Business & Finance

The bid by a Chinese company to take over oil industry giant Unocal has run into a new snag: a call by Congress for a federal review of such a deal that would take almost five months to complete. In the meantime, Unocal shareholders would have voted on whether to accept CNOOC's $18.5 billion buyout proposal or to merge with US rival Chevron for $1.5 billion less. CNOOC's pursuit of Unocal worries members of Congress on security grounds, and the conference committee trying to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the energy bill voted late Monday to require the Energy Department to study the implications of Chinese demand for oil and natural gas on the US economy. Unocal said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday that its board had almost accepted the CNOOC bid, but decided in the end that the extra money wasn't worth the risk of federal intervention.

Danaher Corp., a leading designer and maker of tools and safety devices, stepped in to keep Switzerland's Leica Geosystems from falling into the hands of a hostile rival. Their merger deal was valued at just under $1 billion and follows Leica's rejection of a takeover bid by Hexagon AB of Sweden. Leica builds laser-based measuring devices, global positioning system receivers, and optical scanning equipment. Danaher is based in Washington, D.C.

TV Guide, the nation's top-selling weekly publication, announced plans to overhaul its format, a move that will dramatically lower readership guarantees to advertisers. Beginning Oct. 17, a large format will be introduced that's heavy on lifestyle and entertainment coverage and light on TV listings (25 percent of the editorial mix vs. the current 75 percent). The changes reflect competition from on-screen viewing guides supplied by cable systems and from online programming information. The magazine's parent company, Gemstar-TV Guide International, said the guaranteed circulation to advertisers would drop from 9 million readers to 3.2 million and that it expects losses of up to $110 million in fiscal years 2005 and 2006 as a result.

Trading in shares of PlaneStation Group, the operator of budget airline EUJet was suspended, and the company appeared near collapse. In a statement Monday, it said its No. 1 lender "is no longer able to support the company" with additional credit. EUJet, which has been flying since last September, is well below its passenger target and has had to discontinue service to some destinations. PlaneStation is based in London.

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