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DEFENSE-INDUSTRY BIDDING WAR BEGINS Northrop Corporation began its tender offer for Grumman Corporation as planned yesterday, but Wall Street is waiting for a higher bid in the contest between Northrop and rival Martin Marietta Corporation. Northrop offered $60 a share for Grumman on Thursday just days after the Bethpage, N.Y.-based jet fighter maker announced it had accepted a $55-a-share offer from Martin Marietta Corporation. Martin Marietta, a Bethesda, Md., maker of weapons and electronics systems, has been one of the fastest-growing companies in the weapons industry, which has been shrinking in recent years due to Defense Department budget cuts. Los Angeles-based Northrop, which had been viewed as a possible takeover candidate itself, surprised Wall Street with its offer. Speculation is now rife about possible outcomes, including a bidding war, potential lawsuits, and even a bid by Martin Marietta for Northrop. Christian Democrat defeat

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's failure to rein in record postwar unemployment was blamed yesterday for his party's big loss in the opening round of Germany's marathon 1994 voting season. The main question before parliamentary voters in Lower Saxony on Sunday was not whether the Christian Democrats could win, but how badly they would lose. Mr. Kohl's CDU got only 36.4 percent of the vote, allowing the Social Democrats to retain the area's leadership. Disney plans, problems

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The state of Virginia on Saturday sweetened its offer to $160 million in incentives for Walt Disney Company to build its American history theme park. Critics of the project protested it would spoil the pristine countryside. Supporters argued that the state needs its 19,000 jobs and millions in tax revenues. In related news, the Walt Disney Company and its creditors said yesterday they have agreed on a rescue plan for the Euro Disney theme park, threatened with bankruptcy two years after its gala opening. The plan calls for issuing $1.03 billion in new Euro Disney stock. The proceeds will be used to repay lenders. Russian science trial

Russia's chief prosecutor has dropped criminal proceedings against a Russian scientist who was briefly imprisoned after being accused of revealing state secrets about the Kremlin's chemical weapons programs. The politically embarassing case against Vil Mirzayanov was scrapped after acting Prosecutor-General Alexei Ilyushenko ruled there was not enough evidence to prove Mr. Mirzayanov had broken the law when he published a 1992 article saying Russia was clandestinely developing a chemical-weapons program in violation of international agreements.

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