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Kmart Corp., battling sluggish sales and low stock price, unveiled a sweeping restructuring plan that will include the closure of 72 stores. The shutdowns, most of which will occur by Nov. 1, represent about 3 percent of all Kmart stores. About 5,000 workers will be affected, although employees will be given the opportunity to transfer to other stores, a spokesman said.

Nortel Networks said it would invest just under $2 billion in expansion in New England, much of it in a division reportedly being pursued by fiber optics rival Corning Inc. The Brampton, Ontario-based company plans to build a 100,000 square-foot addition onto an existing plant in Wilmington, Mass., and a new "optical system house" in neighboring Billerica, Mass., adding 1,825 employees to its payroll. Nortel and Corning would not comment on a report about their negotiations for the sale of a division that makes lasers. The Wall Street Journal said such a transaction could be worth more than $100 billion.

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Lucent Technologies announced a $1.3 billion stock deal in which it will buy Spring Tide Networks, a provider of switching gear for the Internet. Lucent, the world's largest maker of telecommunications equipment, is based in Murray Hill, N.J.; Spring Tide is in Maynard, Mass.

In a deal valued at $4 billion, the largest privatization in post-Iron Curtain Eastern Europe, France Telecom and a partner will buy a 35 percent stake in Poland's state-owned phone company, Telekomunikacja Polska SA, it was announced in Warsaw.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society