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Texas pacific group has offered about 1.2 trillion lire ($648 million) for a controlling stake in Piaggio, the maker of the Vespa scooter, Milan's Corriere della Sera newspaper reported. Citing confidential banking sources, it said Texas Pacific was negotiating with representatives of Piaggo's largest shareholders. Texas Pacific - a private investment partnership based in San Francisco, Calif., and Fort Worth, Texas - already controls Ducati, Italy's biggest motorcycle manufacturer.

Japanese auto production is expected to rise for the first time in two years during the July-September quarter, the nation's leading economic daily reported. The Tokyo newspaper Nihon Keizai said a domestic boom in minicars is expected to boost industry output about 3 percent to more than 2.45 million vehicles during the quarter. The daily based its figures on carmakers' projections.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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