Business & Finance

Cimarex Energy Co., an oil and natural gas producer based in Denver, said it will acquire rival Magnum Hunter Resources Inc. for $2.1 billion in stock and assumed debt. The deal will allow Cimarex to expand its operations into the Permian Basin in West Texas and achieve "measured exposure" to "high-potential" projects in the Gulf of Mexico. It triples Cimarex's proven reserves to more than 1.3 trillion cubic feet of fuel equivalent. The merged company plans to keep an office in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, where Magnum Hunter is based.

Taking advantage of "currently attractive conditions" in capital markets, insurance giant Allianz AG announced it will sell $5.2 billion worth of bonds to increase cash reserves, help refinance its massive debt, and whittle down its investments in some of Germany's leading companies. Allianz owes creditors about $70 billion, of which $14.7 billion is due this year. Some of the bonds in the sale will be exchangeable for shares in BMW, the automaker; in electronics and engineering giant Siemens; and in Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurance company.

Business software giant SAP AG, expecting a growth in profits of as much as 12 percent this year, said it will hire 3,000 more employees. While growth in Europe has been soft, analysts noted that the company enjoyed especially strong sales in the US in the fourth quarter of last year as customers became disgusted at the messy takeover battle between rivals Oracle and PeopleSoft. SAP is based in Waldorf, Germany.

SBC Communications, the nation's No. 2 telephone company, revised downward the number of jobs it expects to cut this year. It announced Wednesday that 7,000 positions will not be refilled when the employees who hold them retire or otherwise leave the payroll. In November, SBC said it planned 10,000 layoffs this year.

AT&T has informed 230 employees at its Syracuse, N.Y., call center that their jobs will end March 25, a local Communication Workers of America official said. The workers, who are paid an average of $50,000 a year, are caught in the company's shift from small business and residential customers to servicing corporate clients. Last year AT&T announced it was reducing its workforce by about 14,000 worldwide, with another 5,100 job cuts planned this year.

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