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Rite Aid to buy chain of drugstores

In a bold step to keep pace with the industry leaders, the nation’s third-largest drugstore chain, Rite Aid Corp., said Thursday it will purchase the U.S. Eckerd and Brooks operations of Canada’s Jean Coutu Group Inc. for about $2.55 billion in cash and stock.

It’s Rite Aid’s first major acquisition since a turnaround team arrived to bring the company back from the brink of bankruptcy six years ago.

At the same time, Rite Aid said the deal will make it the largest drugstore chain on the East Coast.

Rite Aid will pay $1.45 billion in cash and 250 million shares valued about $1.1 billion.


NWA strike ruling rests with judge

Union negotiators have left town, leaving a federal judge as Northwest Airlines Corp.’s last hope to block a flight attendant strike that could begin as early as tonight.

Flight attendants are angry that Northwest imposed pay cuts and work rules that the rank-and-file had rejected, and they say they’ll begin sporadic, unannounced strikes after 7:01 PDT tonight. Northwest, already operating under bankruptcy protection, has said a strike like that could kill it.

Just nine hours before the strike deadline, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero will have to make a snap decision on whether to intervene.


‘Dual hybrid’ will boost gas mileage, GM says

Two electric motors, a V-8 engine that can work on only four cylinders, a really smart computer, and a four-speed transmission that joins them into one package.

GM calls it “dual hybrid” technology and says that soon it will make pickups or big sport utility vehicles as fuel efficient as some cars.

The technology, showcased Thursday, will start showing up in the 2008 model year with the GMC Tahoe SUV. It will be available on the GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade SUVs and the Chevrolet Silverado pickup – GM’s top-selling vehicle – later that year.

GM says the hybrids, similar to those in use in the transit buses of 39 cities, are so versatile that they will boost fuel economy by 25 percent over the current SUVs and pickups.


Drink makers settle suit over benzene

Preston, Wash.-based TalkingRain Beverage Co. and Atlanta-based In Zone Brands Inc. are settling a lawsuit filed by parents worried about cancer-causing benzene in kids’ drinks.

The companies have stopped using ingredients that can form benzene, a chemical linked to leukemia.

The drink makers denied that their products caused any harm but agreed to change their ingredients. They also agreed to refund or replace drinks made before the switch.


AOL to sell TV shows through video portal

“Hitch,” “24” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” are among the movies and television shows that AOL will sell through its new video portal under deals the Internet company has forged with major Hollywood studios.

The partnerships, announced Thursday, represent AOL’s latest efforts to become the destination for online video as the company tries to offset revenues it expects to lose from a recent decision to drop subscription fees for many high-speed customers.

The offerings also mark the latest experiments in online distribution as studios and TV networks try a range of tactics, including showing programs at no charge on their Web sites to selling already-aired episodes.

– Compiled from wire reports