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Verizon Wireless, the No. 1 US cellphone carrier, awarded a three-year, $5 billion supply contract to Lucent Technologies, the companies announced. The deal is aimed at allowing Verizon to increase data-transmission speeds by 10 times, to introduce faster mobile Internet service, and could double the existing network's voice capacity.

AmeriSource Health Corp. and Bergen Brunswig Corp., two of the US's largest distributors of pharmaceuticals, were expected to announce a $2.4 billion merger. According to The Wall Street Journal, the deal would create a company with almost $35 billion in annual revenues, delivering pharmaceuticals and related supplies to drug stores, hospitals, and health-maintenance organizations. Ameri-Source also will assume $1.3 billion in debt, the Journal reported. AmeriSource is based in Valley Forge, Pa.; Bergen Brunswig in Orange, Calif.

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In a $2.1 billion deal designed to make it the world's largest advertising company, Interpublic Group will acquire Chicago-based True North Communications, The Wall Street Journal reported. True North is the parent of Foote Cone & Belding and the Bozell Group; Interpublic's stable of agencies includes McCann-Erickson WorldGroup and Lowe Group.

In major layoff news:

* In the ongoing effort to make itself attractive for a takeover by General Motors, South Korea's bankrupt Daewoo Motor Co. announced it will cut 6,500 overseas assembly-line and sales jobs by year's end. The company already has reduced its domestic work force by more than 30 percent since Jan. 1.

* Citing a net loss of about $900 million last year, the largest partner in Europe's giant Airbus Industrie said it will eliminate 3.000 jobs by Jan. 2, 2003. Paris-based EADS NV (European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co.) owns 80 percent of Airbus.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor