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London-based HSBC holdings agreed to buy the holding company that controls Republic National Bank of New York, in a cash deal worth $10.3 billion. HSBC said it will pay $72 a share for Republic New York Corp. and its sister company, Safra Republic Holdings. Safra is the holding company for banks in Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Gibraltar, Monaco, and Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. HSBC controls Marine Midland Bank of the US and Britain's Midland Bank as well as Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corp., the leader in Hong Kong. HSBC said it expects the deal to yield annual savings of $300 million within two years.

Amid ongoing street protests in the cities and a drumbeat of heavy criticism of the US and NATO by state-run news media, stock trading on China's Shanghai exchange fell heavily yesterday. Each of the major trading categories closed at least 4.3 percent lower, with two dropping just under 8 percent. Analysts said that likely was as much a reflection of concern about long-term damage to China's relationship with Western trading partners as anger at the accidental bombing of its embassy in Yugoslavia.

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