Business & Finance

Lockheed Martin and Titan Corp. acknowledged that their proposed merger may be in jeopardy because of a federal probe of alleged bribery by consultants working for the latter. Lockheed, the world's No. 1 defense contractor, anticipates buying out Titan, a specialist in defense and network security technology, for $1.8 billion plus the assumption of $580 million in debt. But either may terminate the deal if it's not completed by March 31, and separate investigations by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission may not be finished before a scheduled meeting next week of Titan shareholders to OK the merger. Reports said Titan consultants may have given cash or "gifts of value" to unidentified "foreign officials," a potential violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Lockheed Martin is based in Bethesda, Md.; Titan in San Diego.

Led by foreign buyers, investors snapped up $5 billion worth of shares in India's state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Friday, the opening of a week-long initial public offering. The sale was the largest in Indian history, and analysts attributed its popularity to ONGC's ratio of reserves to production, which they said compares favorably to those of the world's largest oil companies. In other IPO developments:

• Buying opens Monday for shares in Belgacom in what is expected to generate as much as $4.8 billion, which would make it the largest such sale in Europe in three years. The company's minority investors - SBC Communications of the US, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., and Denmark's TDC - are unloading their 46.9 percent stake to concentrate on their home markets. Belgacom, which is majority-owned by the Brussels government, will not realize any return from the sale.

• Investors are expected to buy as much as $1.7 billion worth of shares this week in China's SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.), a supplier of chips under contract to such industry giants as Infineon and Toshiba. The company is based in Shanghai.

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