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The $7 billion acquisition of Tosco Corp., announced Sunday by Phillips Petroleum Co., is expected to create the second-largest US refiner and No. 3 marketer. But the transaction, which also includes the assumption of about $2 billion in Tosco debt, is expected to undergo a tough examination by federal regulators. If approved, the deal would be the latest in a wave of high-profile mergers in the energy sector. Bartlesville, Okla.-based Phillips currently employs 12,400 workers, while Tosco, of Stamford, Conn., has about 25,000. The companies indicated they expect layoffs as result of the merger.

In a $1.34 billion stock swap, oil drilling specialist Patterson Energy Inc. said it would buy rival UTI Energy Corp. The combined company would be the No. 2 US land-based drilling services contractor, with more than 300 rigs in North America. Patterson is based in Snyder, Texas; UTI in Houston.

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A deal worth up to $1.5 billion that would rescue the world's oldest mutual life insurance company from its deep financial troubles was announced by Halifax PLC, the No. 1 home mortgage lender in Britain. The company said it will acquire the products, assets, and sales force of Equitable Life over the next three years. Equitable's difficulties stem from an obligation to pay more than $2 billion in bonuses on guaranteed annuity rate policies written decades ago when interest rates were high; they have since dropped. It announced in December it would stop writing new policies after the last of 15 potential buyers decided against offering a bid.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society