Business & Finance

Charter One Financial Corp. agreed to be acquired by Royal Bank of Scotland in a $10.5 billion all-cash deal that will propel the combined company to seventh-largest in the US in deposits and assets under management. Charter One Financial is based in Cleveland. The merger is expected to result in 1,000 layoffs, the buyer said.

In the third buyout of a Denver natural gas producer in a month, Pioneer Natural Resources Co. said it will acquire Evergreen Resources for $2.1 billion in cash, stock, and assumption of debt. Denver's Rocky Mountain News said the deal is a reflection of the fact that its region is the only one in the US where gas production is growing. Pioneer is based in Irving, Texas.

In a deal estimated at $1.7 billion, real estate investment trust ProLogis and Eaton Vance Management said they'll buy Keystone Property Trust. It will allow ProLogis, which owns 1,200 warehouse and distribution centers, to benefit from Keystone's presence in the East, where the latter maintains 135 such facilities near highways, airports, and seaports. Keystone is based in West Conshohocken, Pa.; ProLogis in Aurora, Colo.; and Eaton Vance in Boston.

Delta Airlines said it will recall 1,060 pilots furloughed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, even as it tries to negotiate a pay cut with their union. Their return stems from an arbitrator's ruling last year that required the carrier to recall pilots once passenger traffic returned to pre-9/11 volume.

Talk of bankruptcy for Alitalia grew louder as trading in its shares and bonds was suspended on Italy's major exchange. The airline's stock price recovered slightly from an almost 16 percent plunge Tuesday but still closed down 13.3 percent. Two sets of talks were under way - between managers and employee-union leaders and among senior government ministers - to discuss ways out of the crisis that is causing the carrier more than $1 million a day in losses. The unions are resisting proposals for thousands of layoffs, but European Affairs Minister Rocco Buttiglione warned, "We are headed for liquidation" unless organized labor shows "some movement forward."

Dean Foods, the largest dairy producer in the US, said late Tuesday it will close as many as 10 plants, even though first-quarter profits rose 9.5 percent. Faced with rising raw-milk and other commodity costs, Dean already has shut its South Gate, Calif., plant, with other closures slated for San Leandro, Calif.; Sulphur Springs, Texas; Madison, Wis.; Lansing, Mich., and Wilkesboro, N.C.

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