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Hhouston-based reliant energy is entering the European market by buying one of the largest power companies in the Netherlands, NV Energieproduktiebedrijf, for $2.4 billion, Reliant officials announced. They said Reliant would take an initial 40 percent stake in the company, have majority ownership no later than 2002, and complete the acquisition within seven years.

Barely five weeks after announcing they'd merge in a $23.9 billion deal, the French banks Socit Gnral and Paribas found themselves the targets of a takeover bid by Banque Nationale de Paris. The latter surprised financial analysts across Europe by announcing a $37.2 billion offer. If it's accepted, the resulting entity would be the world's largest bank, with assets of almost $1 trillion. But executives of Socit Gnral and Paribas said the move was "risky" and "cannot be portrayed as friendly."

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Without detailing why, the newly merged automaker DaimlerChrysler called off its intensive discussions on buying a 30 to 50 percent stake in Japan's troubled Nissan Motor Co. A spokesman said only that the "opportunities" of a close relationship were not "achievable as quickly as expected." Nissan said it would continue similar discussions with other automakers, among them France's Renault.

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