Business & Finance

Ending weeks of speculation, shipping and mailing giant Deutsche Post announced plans to buy Exel PLC of Britain for $6.7 billion. If approved by European Union regulators, the deal will give Deutsche Post, operator of the DHL courier service, a warehousing and freight-forwarding empire with 500,000 employees and combined annual earnings of $63 billion. United Parcel Service of the US, which had been considered a possible rival suitor for Exel, had yet to be heard from Monday morning, but industry analysts said they doubted it would offer a counterbid now.

In a wave of other mergers Monday:

• Spinnaker Exploration Co., a Houston producer of oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico, agreed to be acquired by Norway's Norsk Hydro for $2.45 billion.

• Orica Ltd., the world's No. 1 maker of explosives, and Macquarie Bank, both of Australia, said they will buy rival Dyno Nobel ASA for $1.7 billion. The latter is based in Oslo and was founded by the late Alfred Nobel, for whom the annual peace, economics, chemistry, physics, medicine, and literature prizes are named.

• Computer services provider LogicaCMG announced it will pay $1.1 billion for Unilog, a software developer and consultant. Logica is based in London; Unilog in Paris.

Despite the fact that it will allow 1,100 layoffs and the closure of an engine plant, members of the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract with Ford Motor Co. Sunday. It also calls for the lowest pay increases in two decades - 3.5 percent over the life of the deal. Next up: DaimlerChrysler, whose contract with the CAW expires Tuesday at midnight.

A statement was promised Monday by Sumitomo Corp., Japan's third-largest trading company, to address published reports that it will acquire TBC Corp. of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., for $1.1 billion. The latter is a leading distributor of replacement tires in the US, Canada, and Mexico and operates more than 1,000 Tire Kingdom and Big O retail outlets.

Siemens, the engineering conglomerate, said it will cut 2,400 jobs at its money-losing computer services division and replace that unit's chief at his own request. The changes affect only Germany and bring to more than 35,000 the number of layoffs at Siemens since 2001.

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