Novartis Seeks to Take Over Chiron

Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis offered $4.5 billion in cash to take over Chiron, a California biotechnology company that has fallen on hard times. Novartis already owns 42.2 percent of Chiron and is offering $40 a share for the other 112 million shares.

Problems at Chiron's British production facility kept it from delivering any of its Fluvirin flu vaccine to the United States last year. Chiron was supposed to have supplied about half the nation's vaccine.

7-Eleven Parent Offers Buyout

Seven-Eleven Japan will launch a $1.2 billion cash offer for the 27.3 percent stake it doesn't already own in its U.S. affiliate 7-Eleven, in a move to take the world's largest convenience store chain private. Dallas-based 7-Eleven said board members would evaluate the offer and advise shareholders by Sept. 19.

The Tokyo-based parent said that in order to better compete in the market, 7-Eleven must boost investment in its merchandising, store renovation, distribution and logistics systems.


Prime Minister Presents Economic Plan

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, right, promised new job incentives and billions of dollars in tax cuts, his latest prescription in an ambitious program to nurse the economy back to health, restore self-confidence and lower persistently high jobless rates.

Villepin emphasized plans to boost French purchasing power and said the second phase of his tenure would focus on social issues alongside his top priority -- creating jobs. His plan also includes state aid to ease the pinch of climbing oil prices and new housing to help the poorest.


New WTO Head Installed

Pascal Lamy, right, stepped into office as the new head of the World Trade Organization, pledging to re-energize stalled negotiations ahead of a crucial global trade summit in December in Hong Kong. Lamy, a French Socialist, was chosen to succeed Thailand's Supachai Panitchpakdi, having convinced both developed and developing nations that he could prod countries toward compromise and break the impasse.

Ministers are trying to forge a trade pact that slashes subsidies and cuts tariffs, opening agricultural markets for poorer countries.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.