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In a deal valued at $4.9 billion, UnitedHealth Group said it will acquire Oxford Health Plans Inc. of Trumbull, Conn., a company that writes most of its policies in the lucrative New York market. United, one of the nation's largest health insurers, does not expect the merger to result in major layoffs, a senior executive said. United is based in Minneapolis.

Major creditors gave the engineering giant Alstom until Sept. 30 to begin repaying the $3.8 billion it received last year in a bailout backed by the French government. The company, which built the Queen Mary 2 and France's high-speed train, the TGV, warned last month that final figures on its 2003 business year probably would be lower than expected and would run the risk of default on at least two loans in its rescue package. Alstom is based in Paris.

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BP, the oil industry giant, said it will seek a buyer for more than half of its remaining petrochemicals business - or perhaps spin it off via an initial public offering. But its assessment of the assets' value, about $7 billion, was disputed by analysts, who called them "not attractive" and estimated their worth as low as $3 billion.

In new fallout from the California electricity crisis of 2000-2001, Dynegy Inc. and NRG Energy Inc. agreed to forfeit $260 million that their joint venture claimed was due for power supplied to utilities in the state, The Wall Street Journal reported. It said the settlement with state officials and the federal government calls for the venture, West Coast Power LLC, to refund or credit that amount to consumers, beginning later this year. Similar agreements with other big suppliers accused of overcharging may follow, the Journal said.

An announcement was expected as soon as Wednesday that Janus Capital Group will pay more than $200 million in penalties and implement internal reforms in connection with its alleged role in the practice known as market timing. The company is one of several major mutual-fund traders identified in probes of illegal practices in the industry by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office, its counterpart in Colorado, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or all three. Janus's chief, Mark Whiston, resigned last week, following the departures of other executives and lower-ranking employees.


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