Business & Finance

Two of the largest US industrial unions announced plans Tuesday to create an even bigger and more politically powerful organization that fuses the United Steelworkers with the Paper, Allied Industrial, Chemical, and Energy Workers International. The combined entity will have roughly 800,000 dues-paying members, exceeding the size of two other major unions, the United Auto Workers and the International Association of Machinists. Spokesmen said the new organization intends to forge closer alliances with labor organizations in other countries in hopes of creating protections against the outsourcing of jobs to places where labor is cheap.

Almost $1.5 billion worth of shares in MAN AG, the No. 3 builder of trucks in Europe, were offered for sale by major investors - a hint that the company may merge with a rival or be sold and perhaps split up, reported. On the other hand, the share sale by insurance giant Allianz, by Commerzbank, and by Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurance company, is consistent with their individual decisions to refocus on core business by reducing their holdings in industrial powerhouses, analysts said. Merger speculation has centered on Swedish truckmaker Scania AB. MAN is based in Munich, Germany.

Bell South completed its sale of assets in Latin America, transferring Argentine cellphone operator Movicom to Spanish wireless giant Telefónica Moviles SA for just under $1 billion. The companies reached agreement last March on the sale, in pieces, of 10 such properties.

LaSalle Bank Corp. announced plans to cut 500 jobs at its Standard Federal branches in Michigan and Illinois. LaSalle is the holding company for Standard Federal, which is based in Troy, Mich., as well as for its own LaSalle banks, based in Chicago. About half of those laid off could be rehired to fill other positions created by a reorganization of the company, the report said.

Tupperware Corp. will cut about 250 jobs at its Hemingway, S.C., plant as it imports more plastic food-storage containers, reported Tuesday. Tupperware, based in Orlando, Fla., anticipates annual savings of $6 million under the new arrangement.

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