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Italian carmaker Fiat and French state-owned utility Electricite de France launched a $4.2 billion hostile takeover bid for Italian energy and agroindustrial conglomerate Montedison. Fiat and Electricite had joined a consortium of three banks, called Italenergia, to acquire the Montedison holding company and its electricity subsidiary, Edison. The deal is expected to help EdF ease its way into the Italian energy market by using a strong domestic partner to dispel its image as a foreign invader. It would also provide Fiat with a means of diversification, as it is widely expected to eventually sell its core automotive business.

Cathay Pacific Airways pilots will likely begin labor action of some sort today, according to top union officials. The Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association has been negotiating on behalf of about 1,200 of Cathay's 1,400 pilots for a reversal of 1999 pay cuts and benefit improvements, but talks collapsed late last week. John Findlay, the union's general secretary, told a radio station yesterday that it was now "inevitable that the action start," but he refused to specify what actions pilots would take in the "limited" flight disruptions.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor