Business & Finance

Looking to cut its operating costs, Dutch bank ABN Amro Thursday signed a $2.2 billion outsourcing deal with IBM Corp. and four other technology companies, all based in India. The five-year deal, which will result in 1,500 layoffs of ABN employees, involves management of the bank's global computer network and software development. IBM will get the biggest chunk of the deal, valued at $1.8 billion, and will manage the bank's information technology infrastructure.

A Japanese tariff of 15 percent on US steel imports took effect Thursday as part of Tokyo's battle against American steel industry protection measures. It marks the first time Japan has taken such retaliatory action against a trading partner. The Japanese decision follows similar moves by the 25-nation European Union and Canada.

US-Chinese talks on a dispute over American efforts to restrain surging imports of Chinese underwear and other textiles broke down Thursday, the chief US negotiator said, leaving little chance of a settlement before President Hu Jintao visits Washington next week.

Confectioner and beverage maker Cadbury Schweppes PLC, which is based in London, said Thursday it plans to sell off its European beverages business as it focuses on more profitable lines, including operations in the US. The company, the producer of Dr Pepper, Mott's Apple Juice, and Trident gum, didn't say how much it would seek for the unit, but analysts said it could probably fetch more than $1.8 billion.

Seven-Eleven Japan Co. said Thursday it will launch a $1.2 billion cash tender offer for the 27.3 percent stake it doesn't already own in its US affiliate 7-Eleven Inc., formerly Southland Corp. Seven-Eleven Japan said it expects that taking the world's largest convenience store chain private will help achieve a better-governed group structure.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG said Thursday it is offering $4.5 billion in cash for the remaining stake in Chiron Corp. to complete its takeover of the US-based biotechnology company.

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