Business & Finance

Rayovac Corp., the batterymaker, announced on Tuesday that it is buying United Industries Corp., a maker of pet supplies and lawn care products, for $476 million. The deal is viewed as another step in Rayovac's efforts to become a more diversified company, adding to a consumer-product line currently focused on low-cost batteries and electronic shaving products. Rayovac, which is based in Atlanta, is expected to assume about $900 million of United Industries debt. United Industries, a St. Louis company, makes Vigoro lawn care products, Cutter insect repellant, and Eight in One Pet Products.

Halliburton Co., the oil-field services giant, said Monday that asbestos liability settlements have been reached that allow two subsidiaries to exit bankruptcy protection and operate without court supervision. To resolve current and future asbestos-related disputes of the Kellogg Brown & Root engineering and construction unit and DII Industries, Halliburton established a $5.1 billion trust fund, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The New York Times Company will soon own 49 percent of Metro Boston, a free daily newspaper that targets young commuters, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The investment marks a growing trend among traditional newspapers to expand advertising through free publications. The Times Company plans to use the Metro's 300,000 daily circulation to promote its other New England papers, including The Boston Globe.

Holiday Internet sales increased 25 percent over last year according to the eSpending Report released Monday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported in its online edition. Consumers spent $23.2 billion, or $4.7 billion more than they did in 2003, marking the busiest holiday yet for e-commerce. In a sign of online shopping's popularity, sold a record 2.8 million products in a single day, or 32 items per second. Clothing and apparel accounted for 16 percent of all online sales, with toys, video games, and consumer electronics other big sellers.

Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert, chairman of Quicken Loans Inc., the nation's online mortgage company, heads a group that purchased the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA basketball team Monday for $375 million. The Cavs are led by 20-year-old superstar LeBron James.

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