Business & Finance

A strike that idled production at Boeing just as it was flush with orders for new planes appeared all but over Sunday as the company reached a tentative settlement on a new three-year contract with the union representing its 18,400 machinists. The deal, which will be put to a ratification vote Thursday, allows work to resume at plants in the Seattle area; Portland, Ore.; and Wichita, Kan. It reportedly was the fastest settlement in four decades with the union and calls for no wage increases. But Boeing will pay bonuses, will increase pension payments, and drop its demand that employees contribute more to their healthcare plan.

By a better than 80 percent vote Sunday, members of the Canadian Auto Workers Union ratified the three-year contract reached last week with DaimlerChrysler. Meanwhile, the union said it was in "intense" negotiations with General Motors to try to reach a settlement on a new contract before a midnight strike deadline arrived.

In a wave of mergers announced Monday:

• Ending a year-long takeover struggle, Dutch banking giant ABN Amro signed a contract to acquire controlling interest in Banca Antonveneta SpA of Italy for $3.68 billion. ABN Amro had to overcome alleged favoritism on the part of Italy's central bank governor, who was wiretapped in the process of discussing a strategy that would keep Antonveneta in Italian hands. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has called for his resignation.

• In a stock-swap valued at $1.9 billion, Shick Technologies Inc. of Long Island City, N.Y., agreed to buy Sirona Dental Systems of Germany. The companies are leaders in making advanced equipment for oral imaging and for tooth restoration, respectively. Sirona formerly was known as Siemens Dental.

• Media researcher and yellow-pages publisher Eniro AB of Stockholm agreed to a $1 billion takeover of Findexa Ltd. The latter is Norway's No. 1 provider of telephone and business-to-business directories.

• The largest publicly traded electric, water, and natural gas utility in Europe, E.on, said it will pay just under $1 billion for Caledonia Oil & Gas Ltd. of Britain.

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