Business & Finance
Investors returned from a national holiday to push Japan's Nikkei index above 13,000 in the busiest trading day in Tokyo Stock Exchange history. The benchmark index closed at 13,148.57, a level it hadn't reached since June 22, 2001. Analysts attributed the gain, in part, to news that North Korea had agreed Monday to give up its nuclear weapons program. Japan and North Korea do not have normal diplomatic relations, and the North has test-fired missiles capable of carrying warheads both in Japan's direction and over Japanese soil in recent years.
Through its US subsidiary, Japanese trading giant Sumi-tomo said it will buy replacement-tire retailer TBC Corp. for $1.1 billion in cash and assumed debt. TBC is based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and operates the National Tire & Battery, Big O, Merchants Tire & Auto Centers, and Tire Kingdom chains.
Bain Capital LLC, the Boston private equity firm, agreed to pay $1.3 billion for the electrical connectors subsidiary of Areva SA. The latter, 95 percent-owned by the French government, is the world's largest builder of nuclear reactors and has said it wants to focus on its core business. Connectors, some types of which sell for one cent apiece, are used in such applications as cellphones, computers, and automobile air bags. Among the Areva unit's customers are IBM, Motorola, Dell Corp., Siemens, and Ericsson, the Swedish telecommunications equipment maker.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. raised its retailing profile in Latin America, buying Royal Ahold's one-third stake in CARHCO, a joint venture with 363 stores in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but CARHCO reported sales of $2 billion last year. Since beginning the sell-off of some prime assets because of an accounting scandal in early 2003, Royal Ahold has dropped from third to fifth among the world's supermarket chains as measured by sales.
Four hours before the deadline for a threatened strike, negotiators for the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) and DaimlerChrysler reached a tentative settlement on a new three-year contract. The pact, which still must be ratified by 11,400 CAW members in Ontario, calls for the company to keep open a casting plant it had sought to close. But it allows DaimlerChrysler to make limited job cuts and holds pay increases to 3.5 percent, the lowest in two decades.