Business & Finance

Citigroup of the US would lose its place as the world's largest bank if, as expected, merger negotiations between Japan's UFJ Holdings Inc. and Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group are successful, CBS MarketWatch reported. Other news organizations put the combined assets of the two companies at $1.74 trillion. But they said a deal would be contingent on cancellation of the sale by UFJ of its trust-banking operations to rival Sumitomo Trust - a deal that the latter regards as legally binding and is prepared to ask the courts to protect, its spokesman said. Mitsubishi Tokyo is Japan's No. 2 bank. UFJ is the fourth-largest, but has lost money for three straight years and was reprimanded by regulators last month for being evasive in an audit of its loan portfolio.

Riverboat casino operator Harrah's Entertainment Inc. could become the biggest gambling company in the world if a deal with rival Caesars Entertainment Inc. is completed, The Wall Street Journal reported. Specifics have yet to be made public, but Caesars has a market value of about $4.3 billion. In a blockbuster gambling merger last month, MGM Mirage agreed to buy Mandalay Resort Group for $7.9 billion.

Verizon Wireless will buy at least $5 billion worth of network equipment, services, and software from Lucent Technologies, the companies announced Tuesday. The deal will enable Verizon to increase the coverage and capacity of its voice network and high-speed, wide-area BroadbandAccess data network. The new deal includes a smaller one struck in March for $525 million.

Delta Airlines said it will take $1.65 billion in noncash charges in the second quarter, largely related to deferred income taxes and the costs of its pilots' pension plan. The move occurs against a backdrop of higher-than-expected fuel costs and lower returns from the carrier's US business, which has struggled to compete with the rising popularity of low-cost rivals. Earlier this week, for example, JetBlue announced a new sale for the fall of 1 million seats for up to half off regular fares.

ExxonMobil agreed to build a $7 billion plant to convert natural gas into liquid motor fuels and lubricating oil. The facility will be built in Qatar and will be the third of its type there once production begins in 2011, Bloomberg. com reported. Last week, Royal Dutch/Shell announced plans for a rival plant in Qatar that will cost an estimated $6 billion.

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