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Strong Financial Corp. is up for sale, the company confirmed Wednesday, saying it has hired Goldman Sachs to explore possible deals. The move was widely expected following the resignation earlier this week of founder/chief executive Richard Strong. He, along with the firm, is under investigation for improper mutual fund trades. Strong Financial manages $42.7 billion in assets, making it an attractive buy despite the scandal, analysts said. Some estimated it could fetch $1 billion.

Northrop Grumman and Raytheon won a $4.5 billion contract from the Defense Department Wednesday for part of the national missile-defense system, beating out a rival Lockheed Martin-Boeing team. The eight-year project involves development of an "interceptor" rocket capable of downing enemy missiles shortly after takeoff. It will create almost 3,000 jobs by 2007 at sites in Alabama, Arizona, Missouri, Maryland, and California, Northrop said.

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For the first time, Major League Baseball has turned to the institutional credit market to obtain financing, reports said. The reports quoted chief financial officer Jonathan Mariner as saying MLB was taking advantage of low interest rates and long-term payback periods to sell $455 million worth of 10-year notes to help cover losses. The buyers: FleetBoston Financial Corp. and Bank of America, which has agreed to acquire FleetBoston. Of the 30 MLB franchises, 19 participate in its central financing program, Mariner said. The new funding will be in addition to MLB's traditional source, a revolving credit line using its network TV contracts as collateral, the reports said.


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