Business & Finance

The newly announced $9 billion merger of Duke Energy Corp. and rival Cinergy could trigger further consolidation in the energy industry, analysts suggested Monday. It will create a company with 5.4 million retail customers in the Midwestern and Southeastern states and annual revenue of about $27 billion. If shareholders and regulators approve, the all-stock deal will allow Duke to complement its gas-fired power plants with Cinergy's coal-fired plants. It will, however, result in the loss of about 1,500 jobs as the companies meld their operations. Cinergy is based in Cincinnati, and Mayor Charlie Luken (D) said he'll assemble a committee to analyze the deal and warned that he and the Ohio Consumers Council will oppose it if its impact on the city is judged to be negative. Duke Energy is based in Charlotte, N.C.

ChevronTexaco announced that it's simplifying its identity, effective immediately. To convey a "clear, strong, and unified presence" in the global marketplace, the company said Monday it will revert to its former name, Chevron Corp., dropping "Texaco," which it took on after a 2001 merger. The roughly 1,200 service stations displaying the Texaco name and signs will continue to do so, however. Chevron also has agreed to buy rival Unocal in a $17 billion deal that awaits shareholder and regulatory approval.

Vodafone Group, the giant cellphone service provider, said its Italian subsidiary, Omnitel, will buy back $10.2 billion worth of shares. The program will be carried out in two stages: one next month and the second in October.

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., the supermarket chain known to customers as A&P, announced plans Monday for a restructuring that calls for selling its Midwest operations to concentrate efforts along the Eastern seaboard. The Montvale, N.J., company also may put A&P Canada, which operates Dominion and Food Basics stores, up for sale, MarketWatch reported.

Another 1,000 employees will be laid off this year by Abbey National, the British bank taken over last November by Spain's Santander Central Hispano, the latter announced. Originally, the reorganizing company said it would cut 3,000 jobs. The announcement comes as more bad news for a British economy that in less than a month has seen the loss of almost 6,000 jobs at collapsed auto-maker Rover and electrical network builder Marconi Corp.

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