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BankBoston and Fleet Financial Group said they'll merge in a $16 billion stock deal that would create a regional giant and the eighth-largest US bank. The combined company, to be named Fleet Boston Corp., would be the dominant lender in New England. Executives said they may cut as many as 5,000 jobs from a combined workforce of 59,000.

DuPont will acquire Pioneer Hi-Bred International, an agricultural-sciences firm best known as a marketer of seed, in a deal worth $7.7 billion, the companies said. As a wholly owned subsidiary, Pioneer will continue to do business under its own name and will maintain its headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. DuPont, based in Wilmington, Del., already owns 20 percent of Pioneer.

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Agreement on the outlines of a "business alliance" between Japan's struggling Nissan Motor Co. and Renault of France was confirmed by Nissan's president. Neither prospective partner would comment on details of the deal, but TV and news-agency reports said Renault was likely to buy a 33.4 percent share in the heavily indebted Nissan, the world's sixth-largest automaker. Last week, DaimlerChrysler ended negotiations to merge with Nissan.

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