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Energy marketer Dynegy Inc. will buy larger rival Enron for $8 billion in stock, the Houston-based companies said Friday. Dynegy also will assume $15 billion in Enron debt. The announcement came after Enron's stock price fell 80 percent over the past three weeks because of concerns the company wasn't revealing serious financial problems to shareholders. Enron, the top US buyer and seller of natural gas and wholesale marketer of electric power, has disclosed that more than a half-billion dollars in debt was kept off its books. Under the deal, ChevronTexaco, which owns more than a quarter of Dynegy, would provide $1.5 billion of the purchase price, plus another $1 billion when the deal is completed.

An assembly plant somewhere in the South is to be built by Hyundai Motor Co., the company confirmed. But the South Korean automaker said it would have no announcement on the location for several months, although current plans envision production beginning by 2005. Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia reportedly are vying for the plant.

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Japan Airlines, the largest carrier in Asia, will merge with smaller domestic rival Japan Air System, the companies announced. No dollar value was reported for the deal, but the combined company will become the world's sixth-largest airline when it is complete in 2004.

In a deal valued at $2.2 billion, the household chemical products group Henkel of Germany sold its Cognis specialty unit to two private investors, Schroder Ventures and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. Henkel also announced it would cut as many as 3,000 jobs. The company is based in Dusseldorf.

Among other major employers announcing layoffs:

• Vodafone, the world's largest mobile communications company, confirmed reports of a major round of job cuts in its Australian operations but wouldn't comment on speculation that the number could reach 1,200, or half of its workforce there.

• Exide Technologies, the world's leading maker of after-market automotive and farm-machinery batteries, will cut another 1,100 jobs from its salaried ranks, bringing to 4,200 the overall number of layoffs since September of last year. Exide is based in Princeton, N.J.

• DuPont's partner in a polyester film venture, Teijin Ltd. of Japan said it will lay off 500 workers, more than 300 of them in the US.


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