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Bayer, Germany’s biggest drug maker, reported a quarterly loss of $448 million and said liability from 8,400 injury claims related to its withdrawn Baycol cholesterol medication may exceed insurance coverage.

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General Motors Corp. announced that it has contributed about $1.24 billion worth of stock in its Hughes Electronics Corp. subsidiary to its U.S. employee benefit plans. The automaker said the contribution of 149.2 million shares is expected to strengthen its balance sheet and reduce operating expenses associated with employee benefit plans in 2003.

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Hughes Electronics Corp., owner of the DirecTV satellite-television service, said Grupo Clarin may try to force Hughes to buy back Clarin’s $195-million stake in DirecTV Latin America. Clarin, Argentina’s largest media company, asserts that DirecTV Latin America’s decision to restructure its finances allows Clarin immediately to exercise an option to sell its 4% stake, Hughes said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Citigroup Inc. said it planned to buy banks in Texas and Florida to add Latino customers as it competes for deposits and fees from the fast-growing U.S. population group.

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Northrop Grumman Corp. and unions representing more than 4,000 workers at its Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., have agreed to a proposed contract to be voted on today. The proposal would cap increases in health insurance premiums and prescription drug co-payments, and it would raise pay by $2 an hour.

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Employees at Canal Plus, Vivendi Universal’s pay-television unit, went on strike, halting live programming to protest plans to eliminate 443 jobs, or 15% of its workforce in France, a union representative said.

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* J.M. Smucker Co., the biggest U.S. maker of jams and jellies, said it would close three plants and eliminate 335 jobs while consolidating production and distribution. Facilities in Woodburn, Ore., Watsonville, Calif., and West Fargo, N.D., will be shut within 18 months, the company said.


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