Business & Finance

IBM agreed to sell its personal computer business to Lenovo Group Ltd., China's largest PC maker, for $1.25 billion in cash, stock, and assumed debt. The deal marks Big Blue's first retreat from an industry it helped to pioneer in 1981. The company is shifting focus to higher-margin businesses such as computer services and software. IBM will keep an 18.9 percent stake in Lenovo, which now becomes the world's third-largest PC maker.

To try to break out of a sales slump, General Motors will offer new rebates as high as $5,500 per vehicle in some regions beginning Friday, reported. GM's share of the US new-car market fell to a record low of 24.8 percent in November. Only customers who use GM's finance unit for loans will be eligible for the rebates.

Telecom Italia announced it will buy the 44 percent of its cellphone subsidiary that it doesn't already own. The deal, valued at $26.7 billion, follows an identical move by France Telecom, which bought out its Orange cellphone subsidiary earlier this year.

Amgen Inc., the world's largest biotechnology company, will buy back $5 billion of its own stock, CBS MarketWatch reported, saying the move reflects confidence in the firm's long-term prospects. The Thousand Oaks, Calif., company has $968 million remaining under its previous buyback program.

Two member-owned companies said they'll merge to become the world's largest dairy cooperative. Arla Foods of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Dutch producer Campina BV did not disclose terms of the deal, but their combined sales this year are in excess of $13 billion. Analysts said the impetus for the merger was an expected 20 percent drop in what supermarket chains are willing to pay for milk under European Union agricultural reforms.

For the second time this year, stockholders frustrated a bid by Canadian mining giant IAMGOLD to take over a competitor. The Toronto company won only 48.2 percent approval by investors in Gold Fields Ltd. of South Africa for a merger of their assets. The rejection opens the door to a possible tie-up between Gold Fields and South African rival Harmony Gold Mining Co. IAMGOLD bid $2.1 billion for Gold Fields; Harmony has offered a $6.2 billion stock-swap. In July, IAMGOLD's own shareholders rejected a proposed merger with Wheaton River Minerals of Vancouver, British Columbia.

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