Business & Finance

Ripplewood Holdings and a group of partners will sell another 34 percent of their stake in Japan's Shinsei Bank via an initial public offering next month, reports said. The shares are valued at $2.8 billion. Last February, the partners, among them Citigroup and Deutsche Bank, sold 35 percent of Shinsei for $2.36 billion. The New York private equity firm and its fellow investors paid the Japanese government $1.17 billion for Shinsei five years ago when the latter was bankrupt and known as Long Term Credit Bank. Analysts say the turnaround may be the most profitable in history.

In a major new contraction of the cement industry, Swiss supplier Holcim Ltd. agreed to buy Aggregate Industries PLC for $4 billion. The latter is a leading British producer of crushed rock and sand. At the same time, Holcim said it will pay $800 million for control of India's Associated Cement Companies. Last September, Cemex of Mexico, the industry's third-largest company, acquired Britain's RMC Group for $4.1 billion. In 2001, Lafarge SA of Paris became the world's cement leader, buying another British supplier, Blue Circle, for $4.6 billion.

Paving the way for expansion into the world's largest telephone market, PCCW Ltd. sold a 20 percent stake to China Network Communications Group for $1 billion. The deal gives the buyer access to Hong Kong, PCCW's base. But it also opens mainland China to PCCW, which has been losing subscribers to its Hong Kong rivals. China already has more fixed-line phone users than the entire population of the US. Yet that is only a fraction of China's 1.3 billion people. PCCW was previously known as Pacific Century Cyber Works.

Target Corp., the No. 2 US discount retailer, will build a regional distribution center in Midway, Ga., that will create 450 jobs when it opens in 2007, the company announced Wednesday. Target is based in Minneapolis.

In a new wave of layoff developments:

• Wachovia Corp., the banking giant, said it plans to eliminate up to 4,000 jobs by the end of 2007. Wachovia seeks to trim operating expenses by at least $400 million a year.

• Deutsche Bank declined to confirm a published report that it plans another 2,000 to 4,000 layoffs. But a spokes-man said details of its new restructuring plan will be announced Feb. 3. In November, the company said 1,920 employees would lose their jobs.

• T-Mobile, the cellphone subsidiary of Germany's Deutsche Telekom, announced 2,200 layoffs between now and the end of next year.

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