From Times Staff and Wire Reports

France to Sell Bank, Drug Firm: The French Finance Ministry said it will sell Banque Nationale de Paris, the nation's third-largest bank, and Rhone-Poulenc, the world's eighth-largest drug company, in the first step of France's $78-billion privatization program. The sale of the two companies will be followed by oil group Elf Aquitaine and Banque Hervet. The four companies, the first of 21 state-owned firms due to be privatized under a five-year plan that could raise $78 billion, will be auctioned in the fall.

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