Business & Finance

DaimlerChrysler has decided to acquire majority control of

its struggling Japanese affiliate, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., the financial news service reported. Citing Mitsubishi sources who insisted on anonymity, it said DaimlerChrysler aims to raise its stake from the current 37 percent to at least 50 percent "as soon as 2006." By not doing so now, DaimlerChrysler avoids adding $10.7 billion in debt to its ledger as well as having Mitsubishi's losses count against its own bottom line, the report said. A spokesman for DaimlerChrysler wouldn't comment on the report, except to call it "speculation."

Pacific Gas & Electric became solvent Monday, emerging from the California energy crisis that sank it into bankruptcy in 2001. To square accounts with creditors, the utility is expected to charge its 4.8 million electricity customers at least $6.2 billion above market prices through 2012, or a minimum of $1,300 each.

In its race with faster-growing cellphone service providers, China Telecom will pay $3.4 billion for 10 land-line networks in some of the nation's poorest provinces, reported. The deal also includes the assumption of $4.8 billion in debt. Last October, China Telecom bought six other provincial land-line networks, but it still lags cellphone operator China Mobile in the $50 billion-a-year market.

Boeing Co. is to sign a contract Thursday worth up to $1.5 billion to supply eight long-haul 777 passenger jets to Taiwan's EVA Airways, the companies announced. The deal is an extension of a contract signed four years ago for seven 777s with an option to buy eight more.

Purdue Pharma, a leading maker of prescription drugs, was expected to announce plans Tuesday to lay off about 300 employees. The Stamford, Conn., company recently lost a patent fight over its lucrative but controversial painkiller, OxyContin, opening the door to competition from generic brands. Purdue is appealing the ruling, and although generic versions of the drug have yet to reach the market, a spokesman said the layoffs are necessary to "keep the company strong ... during a period of reduced revenues."

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