Business & Finance

Boeing Co. scored the largest order in its history - a $6 billion contract to build 50 of its new 7E7 jets for All Nippon Airways of Japan. Analysts said the deal is a key to Boeing's efforts to regain market share from its European rival, Airbus. At the same time, they said it represents a heavy blow to Airbus, which has spent the past three years trying with little success to gain a major foot-hold in the Asian market.The 7E7, known as the Dreamliner, is expected to undergo its first test flight next year.

The three-month-old hostile takeover battle for pharmaceutical giant Aventis SA ended abruptly late Sunday when the company agreed to be acquired by smaller rival Sanofi-Synthelabo for $65.4 billion in cash and stock. If OK'd by shareholders and regulators, the deal will result in the industry's third-largest company behind Pfizer of the US and GlaxoSmithKline of Britain. Aventis's board spurned Sanofi's original $57 billion offer and announced Saturday that it had invited Swiss drugmaker Novartis to discuss a merger. But Sanofi is French-owned, Aventis has joint French-German ownership, and the government of France openly campaigned against a takeover by Novartis.

TXU Corp., a major supplier of electricity and natural gas, announced it is selling $4.3 billion in assets while at the same time buying back $1.8 billion of its own stock. The largest of the deals involves its energy holdings in Australia, which will be acquired by Singapore Power Ltd. for $3.72 billion. TXU is based in Dallas.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. was looking for a successor to chief executive Rolf Eckrodt, who resigned in the wake of DaimlerChrysler's decision late last week to invest no more money in the struggling automaker. Details on Eckrodt's move were sketchy Monday. A DaimlerChrysler spokesman said only that it was a "personal" decision.

Members of the United Auto Workers Union rejected the "last, best" contract offer from construction equipment giant Caterpillar Inc. But although the old deal expired at midnight Sunday, the union said the rank and file should report for work Monday as usual. The parties, which have a long history of labor problems, have been in negotiations on a new deal for more than four months. The contract covers 8,000 Caterpillar employees in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Colorado. Caterpillar is based in Peoria, Ill.

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