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Delta Air Lines and its pilots union reached a tentative agreement on a new contract that could be the most generous in the industry. The settlement, reached Sunday, warded off a strike at the No. 3 US carrier a week before its 9,800 pilots had threatened to walk out. The Air Line Pilots Association said the deal included pay increases of 24 to 34 percent between now and 2005 and increases of 63 percent by 2005 for pilots at Delta Express, the carrier's lower-cost unit. The contract, reached in negotiations presided over by the National Mediation Board, also includes improvements in retirement, job security, and vacation benefits. Union members are expected to vote on it later this week.

Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co. said it will cut 5,000 jobs over the next 12 months even though first-quarter earnings rose 2.4 percent. The St. Paul-based company makes industrial adhesives, fiber-optic connectors, and such household products as Scotch Tape and Post-It notes.

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For the first time in three years, Nissan intends to pay a dividend to its shareholders, the company announced. The Japanese automaker, in the midst of a major overhaul imposed by France's Renault, its controlling partner, said the dividend would be 5.8 cents a share. The restructuring plan, begun in October 1999, involves the layoffs of 21,000 workers and closure of five assembly plants.

Royal Dutch/Shell's $5 billion hostile takeover of oil and gas exporter Woodside Petroleum Ltd. was blocked by the Australian government as "contrary to the national interest." The decision by Treasurer Peter Costello was based on Woodside's massive oil and gas reserves off the northwest coast, for which he said Australian export revenues must be "maximized." Woodside, already one-third owned by Shell, said any new discussions with energy companies would likely be in the form of an asset swap rather than a takeover. Shell initiated the takeover bid last November.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor