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Having failed in March to buy US insurance giant Aetna, the Dutch financial group ING said it had reached an agreement to pay $6.1 billion for Minneapolis-based ReliaStar Financial Corp. ING also will assume $1 billion of ReliaStar's debt. The move vaults ING, Europe's fifth-largest financial institution, from 19th to No. 8 in the US life-insurance and annuity market.

In a $2.1 billion, all-stock deal, Siemens AG, the German industrial/technology conglomerate, is buying Shared Medical Systems Corp. of Malvern, Pa., a healthcare computer services provider, the companies announced.

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Rexall Sundown Inc., a leader in the vitamin and nutritional supplement market, said it has agreed to be taken over by Numico NV, the largest maker of infant food products in Europe, for $1.8 billion. Rexall is based in Boca Raton, Fla. Numico broke into the vitamin field in the US last year with its purchase of specialty distributor GNC.

A dispute over transmission rights between Time Warner Inc. and the Walt Disney Co. resulted in 11 Disney-owned ABC stations being pushed off local cable systems, at least temporarily. A Time Warner spokesman said 3.5 million homes were affected in seven key markets, among them New York, Los Angeles, and Houston. At issue was the amount of money Disney has demanded that Time Warner cable systems pay for carrying several Disney channels. A deadline in the matter had been extended five times since the beginning of the year.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society