Business & Finance

Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S said Wednesday it would offer $2.96 billion to take over smaller Dutch rival Royal P&O Nedlloyd. The offer will be formally submitted in June. A.P Moller-Maersk owns Maersk-Sealand, the world's largest shipping company, which has more than 300 container vessels and 750,000 containers.

China Southern Airlines Co. and affiliate Xiamen Airlines Co. announced Wednesday they have signed a deal to buy 45 Boeing aircraft. The planes, B737-700 and B737-800 jets, carry a list price of between $50.5 million and $69.5 million apiece. China is a key battleground in the trans-Atlantic aerospace rivalry between Boeing and Airbus.

UPS Inc., the world's largest shipping carrier, is spending $24 million to build and equip five regional freight hubs at airports around the country as it expands its freight delivery business. The effort will initially add 200 new jobs. The new regional freight facilities will be built in Ontario, Calif.; Rockford, Ill.; Dallas; Philadelphia; and Columbia, S.C. Those airports already serve as regional hubs for UPS's separate small package network.

In layoff news:

• Olympus Corp. is closing two parts plants and reducing its workforce by about 4,000 employees, including many in China, to cut costs in its money-losing digital camera business, the Japanese electronics maker said Wednesday. Olympus's digital camera business has been hit by fierce competition from Canon Inc., Nikon Corp., and other rivals, which has sent prices of digital cameras plunging.

• The National Australia Bank announced Wednesday it will cut 4,200 jobs worldwide - about 10.5 percent of its global workforce - over the next two years to reduce costs. Australia's largest bank will close offices in Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia, as well as its Tokyo-based securities company.

• Automaker DaimlerChrysler AG said Wednesday it reached an agreement with union officials that will see 590 jobs cut at the German headquarters of its Smart car unit in Boeblingen. The cuts are part of a $1.5 billion cost-reduction plan announced in April.

• Sprint Corp., the telecommunications giant based in Overland, Kan., said it will cut 550 more jobs, the final cuts in an already-announced plan to eliminate a total of 5,850 positions. Sprint employs around 60,000 people.

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