Business & Finance

Sony Corp. and three partners announced a tentative agreement to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the Hollywood movie studio, for about $4.8 billion, including $1.9 billion in assumed debt. Sony, Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners beat out rival bidder Time-Warner. Sony also said it has reached a distribution agreement with Comcast, the largest US cable provider, that would allow video-on-demand and new cable channels featuring Sony and MGM content.

A $1.8 billion joint venture was announced by electronics giant Toshiba Corp. and Canon, a leading maker of cameras and copying machines, to produce next-generation, flat-panel screens for TV sets. The Japanese companies said the first of their surface-conduction, electron-emitter displays would come off the production line next August. They projected annual sales of almost $2 billion by 2010.

AT&T Wireless agreed to sell the almost half-interest it owns in Canadian cellphone operator Rogers Wireless Communications Inc. back to the latter's parent, Rogers Communications of Toronto. The deal was valued at $1.4 billion. The buyer had tried to reacquire the shares three years ago, then again last May, but was rejected both times. Rogers Communications is Canada's largest cable-TV provider.

Delphi Corp., the world's largest auto supplier, said the closure of its Flint West facility in Michigan put it on track to reduce its hourly work force by up to 6,000 people by year's end. Delphi, a 1999 spin-off from General Motors, said it eventually will close operations in Anaheim, Calif.; Olathe, Kan., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., as well. The Troy, Mich., company faces increasing pressure from auto- makers to lower prices.

Without offering details, Wachovia Corp., the fourth-largest US bank, said Monday it aims to slash between $600 million and $1 billion in costs over the next three years, CBS MarketWatch reported. The Charlotte, N.C., company reportedly wants to bring its expense ratio closer to the average for US commercial banks.

Federated Department Stores Inc. announced that it will streamline the identities of its five regional chains (Bon-Macy's, Burdines-Macy's, Lazurus-Macy's, Rich's-Macy's, and Goldsmith's-Macy's) by putting all of their outlets under one nameplate. The conversion will begin in January and will add 184 stores to the 239 already in the Macy's stable. Federated also operates the Bloomingdale's chain.

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