Business & Finance

Juniper Networks Inc., which designs and sells Internet traffic routers, announced agreement Monday to pay $4 billion for Sunnyvale, Calif., neighbor NetScreen Technologies. The latter makes devices to help ensure privacy for companies that do business via the Internet. Analysts said the deal should help Juniper in its competition against Cisco Systems, the world leader in networking technology.

A merger valued at $1.6 billion was announced by ChipPac Inc. of Fremont, Calif., and ST Assembly Test Services Ltd. of Singapore. The companies are leaders in the testing and packaging of semiconductors used in cellphones, personal computers, and for other applications.

Alcatel, the telecommunications equipment giant, said it will merge its optical fiber business with Draka Holding NV, which operates companies involved in producing and selling low-voltage and special-purpose cable systems. Analysts said the move will pose a direct challenge to Corning Inc. of the US, the world leader in fiber-optic cable. Alcatel is based in Paris; Draka in Amsterdam.

For the first time in three years, every division of Philips, the Dutch electronics giant, reported a profit in 2003, the company announced. It said net income was $881 million, compared with a $4.1 billion loss in 2002. With momentum on its side, senior executives said Philips would seek "meaningful acquisitions" this year, but they did not offer specifics.

Blockbuster, the video-rental chain, probably will be spun off, its parent company announced. Viacom also said it would take a $1.3 billion charge to reflect a drop in the value of Blockbuster, which reported a 7 percent decline in revenue in the fourth quarter. This is the second time Viacom has announced the same plan, but it decided in 1999 to change course since the business was generating a steady cash flow at the time.

Money-losing Tower Records filed for bankruptcy, but its parent company said it has a preapproved plan to reduce debt by $80 million while obtaining up to $100 million from a new line of credit that will allow operations to continue. The retail music store chain has been hurt by competition from Wal-Mart and by digital downloading on the part of Internet users. Tower Records is owned by MTS Inc. of Sacramento, Calif.

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