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A proposed merger between General Dynamics Corp. and Newport News Shipbuilding was rejected by the Pentagon. The $2 billion deal would have created a single builder for US nuclear submarines. Defense Secretary William Cohen said that would reduce competition in other sectors of military shipbuilding and the loss in competition would outweigh any potential savings to the Navy.

A first-quarter net loss of $17.9 million will cause Mattel Inc., to close some plants and lay off more than 3,000 workers, the company announced. The world's largest toymaker, best-known for its Barbie doll, is merging with The Learning Company.

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A new international fight over opening up markets in Japan to foreign competition was anticipated by analysts after a small telecommunications company there spurned a takeover offer by Britain's Cable & Wireless Plc. in favor of a competing bid by Nippon Telegraph & Telephone (NTT). Both offers for International Digital Corp. were believed to be about $525 million. As a founding shareholder, the British company has a signed agreement granting the right of first refusal in buying additional International Digital stock as it becomes available. Sources close to Cable & Wireless said it was weighing an appeal to the World Trade Organization. NTT declined to comment.

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