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Around the business world

Daily Staff Report

HCA agrees to $21.3 billion leveraged buyout: NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The board of HCA Inc. is recommending the nation’s largest for-profit hospital operator accept a $21.3 billion deal to take the company private in one of the largest leveraged buyouts ever. HCA’s new owners, who are taking on $11.7 billion in debt, need to move quickly to cut costs and revive a company plagued by sliding earnings, slow growth and escalating costs for uninsured patients. Strong 2Q sales, profit boost shares of Merck, Schering-Plough: TRENTON – Shares of drugmakers Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. jumped as both report higher sales and much-improved bottom lines compared with a year earlier, when they had hefty charges and Schering lost money. Both benefited from higher sales of their joint cholesterol drugs Vytorin and Zetia, as well as other key medicines.United to report higher earnings: NEW YORK – UAL Corp., the parent of United Airlines, said it expects to report a bigger-than-expected profit in the second quarter, driven by double-digit operating revenue growth and cost controls.Toy maker’s earnings slump: NEW YORK – Hasbro Inc., the nation’s second-largest toymaker, says earnings and revenue declined in the second quarter, due in part to a drop in Star Wars product sales.Drug maker’s trial trial moving forward: NEW YORK – Next month, drugmaker Wyeth goes into in a Federal court in Little Rock, Ark. to face the first of approximately 4,500 lawsuits filed against it over Prempro, an estrogen-progestin combination prescribed to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. The case marks the beginning of what could be a long process that could compound the financial fallout Wyeth suffered from a clinical study halted in 2002.Advanced Micro Devices to buy graphics chip maker ATI for $5.4 billion: SAN FRANCISCO – Advanced Micro Devices Inc. planned to pay $5.4 billion for top graphics chip maker ATI Technologies Inc., a bold move that could help the world’s No. 2 maker of PC microprocessors match – and exceed – the capabilities of larger rival Intel Corp.AOL’S walls crumbling: NEW YORK – The company responsible for introducing millions of people to the Internet is poised to undergo a transformation that would likely accelerate its decline as a gatekeeper of online access. Under consideration is a proposal for AOL to free up even more of its services in hopes of boosting advertising. The strategy is risky – AOL would lose real revenues today for the promise of a future payoff – but it has little choice.Stocks surge on acquisitions, earnings: NEW YORK – Wall Street rallied sharply as the multibillion-dollar buyout of HCA Inc. and upbeat earnings reports from a pair of drugmakers temper fears of an economic slowdown. The Dow Jones industrial average soars 145 points. By Business Writer Christopher Wang.Global trade talks collapse as top powers fail to reach breakthrough: GENEVA – WTO members call a halt to the Doha round of trade liberalization talks as differences over farm aid prove unbridgeable. It is unclear when the five-year-old talks might restart.BellSouth reports 11 percent jump in 2Q profit: ATLANTA – BellSouth Corp., the dominant local telephone provider in nine Southeastern states, says its second-quarter profit jumped more than 11 percent on a slight increase in sales.Google accused of “click fraud:” NEW YORK – A set of plaintiffs in a class-action suit argues that Google has not exercised reasonable care to prevent “click fraud” and has misrepresented efforts to stop swindlers from repeatedly clicking Web site links to drive up advertising costs.China leaders trying to spread the wealth: BEIJING – President Hu Jintao calls for greater efforts to control sizzling economic growth and spread the benefits of China’s boom to the poor.Vail, Colorado


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