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Defense giant Northrop Grumman Corp. raised its bid to acquire TRW Inc. to $6.7 billion, a month after the auto parts and missile technology manufacturer's board rejected an unsolicited offer of $5.9 billion. Los Angeles-based Northrop is now offering stock valued at $53 a share, a nearly 13 percent increase over its previous offer of $47 a share. Northrop, which explained the move by citing improving economic conditions, has insisted it conduct due diligence on TRW's books before completing a deal, however, and has urged TRW shareholders "to send a strong message to their board of directors" requesting that this be allowed. Cleveland, Ohio-based TRW has advised its shareholders to take no action and said the board would review the revised offer.

Kamps AG, Europe's biggest bakery chain, dismissed a $10.60 per share takeover offer from global pasta giant Barilla, of Italy, as "far too low." A spokesman for Kamps, however, refused to say whether the Düsseldorf, Germany-based chain considered the offer, valued at $874 million, as hostile. Investors appeared to like it, with Kamps shares trading at $10.76, a rise of more than 13 percent, by midday Monday on the Frankfurt stock exchange.

In a move that would open Japan's insular life insurance market to competition, electronics giant Sony Corp. is in talks with leading US and European insurers on the sale of its subsidiary, Sony Life Insurance Co. Ltd., London's Financial Times newspaper reported. Japanese media reports said Sony was close to a deal with GE Capital Corp., the financial services unit of General Electric, but was waiting for a final offer from Dutch insurer Aegon NV, with a decision expected by the end of the month.


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