P&G's Bid for Gillette Advances

Procter & Gamble's $53 billion deal to buy Gillette is close to clearing its last major hurdle with European antitrust regulators, a lawyer familiar with the case said. Frank Fine, a Brussels antitrust lawyer who represents a competitor to P&G and Gillette, said his discussions with regulators indicate they don't plan to block the merger over "portfolio effect" -- the leveraging of overall market power to crowd out competitors.

U.S. antitrust officials, who don't consider portfolio effect, have indicated they are likely to approve the deal. The European Commission is due to announce its decision or recommend further study by July 15.


E.U. Gives Italy Extension on Deficit

The European Union gave Italy until the end of 2007, twice as much time as it usually allows, to bring its budget deficit in line with euro-zone rules. The E.U. head office said Italy has been violating the budget rules underpinning the common currency by running deficits above 3 percent of its gross domestic product in 2003 and 2004 -- and is set to do so this year and next. The E.U. also ordered Italy to cut its debt, currently around 107 percent of GDP, and resolve "the deep-rooted structural problems that have saddled the Italian economy in the last decade."


Global Growth to Slow, U.N. Says

The world economy is expected to grow by about 3 percent this year and next, a loss in momentum from 2004, the United Nations said in its mid-year projections. But the report warned that a smooth moderation of global economic growth in 2005 is threatened by global imbalances and high oil prices.


Paper Industry Shutdown to End

A six-week shutdown of Finland's paper industry was set to end today after labor negotiators accepted a mediation proposal. This week, Prime Minister Matti Taneli Vanhanen insisted that unions and employers continue negotiations that broke down last week. The government said it was concerned that this year's economic growth would be severely hit by the dispute, as the forest industry accounts for 8 percent of gross domestic product and about 25 percent of Finland's exports.

The dispute has cost more than $1.8 billion in lost export earnings and closed dozens of mills, including some of the world's biggest paper makers, UPM-Kymmene and Stora Enso.


Shareholders Approve Bank Merger

Shareholders of Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group and UFJ Holdings approved Mitsubishi Tokyo's acquisition of UFJ, which will create the world's largest banking group by assets. Mitsubishi Tokyo, Japan's second-largest bank, will absorb UFJ, the nation's fourth-largest bank, on Oct. 1, creating an institution with assets of about $1.77 trillion.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.