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DaimlerChrysler appeared to be one step from becoming the world's third-largest automaker, based on reports from Tokyo that it would assume effective control of debt-ridden Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Japan's leading business newspaper, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, said the companies hoped to sign a deal "by May" that would give DaimlerChrysler a 33.4 percent stake in Mitsubishi, making it the latter's largest stockholder. At current share prices, the deal would be worth $1.2 billion. Asked for comment, a senior DaimlerChrysler official said, "If an opportunity for growth arises in Asia, we will take advantage of it."

Internet services provider PSINet Inc. announced it would buy Metamor Worldwide Inc., a business software and service company, for $1.9 billion in stock. The deal is expected to extend PSINet further into the growing business of providing electronic-commerce products and services. The Herndon, Va.-based company also would assume control of Metamor's affiliate, Xpedior Inc., which specializes in e-commerce software. Metamor is based in Houston.

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