Business & Finance

Federal and state regulators were expected to file suit against FleetBoston Financial Corp. for alleged improper trades by its mutual funds unit, reports said Tuesday. Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal and said the suit by the Securities and Exchange Commission and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer will allege that FleetBoston's Columbia Management Group allowed investors to conduct rapid trading in funds that were owned by Liberty Financial, which Fleet purchased in 2001. FleetBoston is being acquired by Bank of America.

Aurora Foods Inc. and Pinnacle Foods Holding Corp., will merge in a reorganization approved by federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, officials disclosed Monday. The plan calls for closing Aurora's St. Louis headquarters and consolidating the combined functions of the two companies at Pinnacle's headquarters in Mountain Lakes and Cherry Hill, N.J. Aurora makes such products as Duncan Hines baking mixes, Log Cabin syrup, and Lender's bagels. Pinnacle markets Swanson frozen foods and Vlasic pickles.

In an all-stock deal valued at $7.7 billion, the third-largest maker of pharmaceuticals in Japan, Yamanouchi Ltd., said it will buy Fujisawa Pharmaceutical, the eighth largest. As a decade of consolidation in the industry continues to play out worldwide, Japanese companies have become especially inviting merger targets, analysts said, because they can't match the research and marketing resources of their rivals in the US and Europe.

Merger talks between two of the world's leading security- services companies, reported earlier this month, have resulted in a $2.8 billion deal, they announced Tuesday. Britain's Securicor PLC and Group 4 Falck of Denmark will call their combined company Group 4-Securicor, with headquarters in Copenhagen. Their combined payroll will have 340,000 employees in 108 countries, pending job cuts due to redundancies.

Heavily indebted Clariant International Ltd., the world's second-largest maker of specialty chemicals, announced 4,000 layoffs and asked shareholders to chip in $732 million in cash to ease its financial concerns. The Muttenz, Switzerland, company makes detergents, dyes for textiles and leather, pigments for inks and paint, additives for plastics, and certain ingredients used in pharmaceuticals.

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