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Thousands of Boeing employees were expected to jam a Seattle convention hall Wednesday afternoon for an announcement by senior executives that the company's new 7E7 passenger jet will be developed and built in suburban Everett, Wash., a published report said. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer said the event also could include a bonus: word that Japan's All Nippon Airways will be the first customer for the twin-engine, 200-seat plane. Boeing has said the 7E7 - the "E" stands for efficiency - will be delivered to buyers beginning in 2008. The aerospace giant canceled its last two planned projects, the 747X and the sonic cruiser, and has steadily been losing business to its main rival, Europe's Airbus Industrie. So the 7E7, despite its billions of dollars in development costs, is seen as a major morale boost for employees as well as an economic lift to the state.

A letter of intent to formally reverse their $11 billion merger and return both companies "to where they were before" was signed by Russian oil giant Yukos and its intended partner, Sibneft, the Dow Jones financial news service reported. The deal would have been the largest in Russian history. The development follows Sibneft's decision late last month to suspend the merger on the day it was to be finalized and a report last week that the companies considered the transaction dead.

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Celanese, a major producer of specialty chemicals, will be acquired by the Blackstone Group in a deal valued at up to $3.82 billion, the parties confirmed. The takeover, described as friendly, will be financed through cash and assumption of debt. It had been rumored for months. Celanese, based in Kronberg, Germany, is the world's biggest maker of acetic acid and acetate, used in adhesives, solvents, paints, synthetic fabrics, and cigarette fiters. It was spun off in 1999 by Hoechst, one of Germany's biggest companies, which wanted to focus on its pharmaceuticals business. The Blackstone Group, a private equity partnership based in New York, earlier this year bought the auto-parts division of TRW Inc.


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