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IBM agreed to buy the consulting arm of auditor PriceWaterhouseCoopers for $3.5 billion in stock and cash. The first major acquisition since Samuel Palmisano took over as IBM chief executive in March will add 30,000 employees to the computer hardware giant's Global Services unit, already the world's largest provider of technology services. It is also IBM's leading source of revenue, accounting for about 40 percent of annual sales.

Guidant Corp. said it will acquire Cook Group Inc., a smaller rival in the medical device industry, in an all-stock deal valued at up to $3 billion. The purchase is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval. Guidant is based in Indianapolis; Cook in Bloomington, Ind.

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Oracle Corp., the world's second-largest software company, said it plans to almost double its operations in Bangalore, India, by 2006, hiring 1,800 more workers. They will be assigned to a center that provides "shared services" for the company's global operations and, ultimately, perhaps customer support. Oracle, based in Redwood City in California's Silicon Valley, cut 200 jobs there last month. Asked whether the company was moving some functions to India to lower operating costs, a spokesman said it viewed "intellectual capital" as a more important factor.

Siemens, the electronics and engineering giant, will cut 900 jobs in one unit and sell off another, it said in a pair of announcements. The layoffs, all in the company's building technologies division in Germany, will take place over three years. No other details were provided for the sale of Siemens's "project business" unit, which employs 1,300 people.


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