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EU Approves J&J Takeover of Synthes

The European Commission approved Thursday a takeover of the U.S. surgical equipment company Synthes by pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson in exchange for J&Js divestment of other units.

The acquisition was said to be worth around $21.3 billion or 16.2 billion euros.

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Ford Plans $760M Assembly Plant in East China

Ford Motor Co. plans to build a $760 million auto assembly plant in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, part of a doubling of its production capacity in the world's biggest vehicle market as it strives to catch up with rivals.

The investment in the factory with joint-venture partner Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Limited will add annual capacity of 250,000 vehicles when it begins operations in early 2015, the company said Thursday.

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Iran Oil Sales to European Countries Not Halted

Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Ghassemi said on Thursday that oil sales to Germany, Greece and Spain had not been halted as reported by state media last week.

"We are still selling oil to all of Europe except Britain and France," Ghassemi told a press conference.

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UNDP: Arab Energy Subsidies Waste Billions

Arab countries are wasting tens of billions of dollars on subsidies for petrol and energy but dare not roll them back for fear of a political backlash, a U.N. report said.

The U.N. Development Program (UNDP) report this week said six of the world's 10 biggest subsidizers are in the Arab world, led by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. People in the three countries pay less than a third of world prices for car fuel and electricity.

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World Bank Suspends Programs in Guinea-Bissau

The World Bank and the African Development Bank have suspended development programs in Guinea-Bissau to protest an April 12 army coup that ousted the government.

The two organizations said they joined the African Union and the ECOWAS regional bloc in "condemning the military coup in Guinea-Bissau, urging a speedy resolution of the crisis, and calling for the restoration of constitutional government to preserve the development gains of the country."

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Starbucks Plans to Expand in China

American giant Starbucks plans to heavily invest in expansion in China as the local population starts to embrace the coffee culture, the company's Asia Pacific president said Wednesday.

"We see opportunities for many, many more stores in China," John Culver told journalists.

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IMF: Protests, Uncertainty Dampen Mideast Economies

Growth in the Middle East and North Africa took a dive in 2011 because of the Arab Spring protests and resulting political upheaval, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the region, stretching from Iran to Mauritania, grew by 3.5 percent last year, down from a healthy 4.9 percent in 2010, the IMF said in its World Economic Outlook.

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Report: Pfizer Nears $9 bn Deal with Nestle

U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is close to reaching a $9 billion deal to sell its infant nutrition business to Nestle, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal said Nestle, the Swiss food giant, had apparently beaten out Groupe Danone and Mead Johnson Nutrition, which had considered a joint bid for the business, and that the final deal could be announced next week.

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Japan's Toshiba to Pay $850 mn For IBM Retail Unit

Japanese electronics giant Toshiba said Tuesday it would pay about $850.0 million for IBM's retail solutions unit, with the U.S. firm saying it would create the world's leading point-of-sale company.

The transaction was expected to be completed later in the year, with the move aimed at retailers who "will benefit from accelerated development of new products and solutions", the Japanese firm said in a statement.

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Argentina Vows To Seize 51% of YPF Oil Firm, Angering Spain

Argentina has vowed to take over a 51 percent stake in the country's biggest oil company, YPF, owned by Spain's Repsol, provoking a furious response from Madrid.

The move was announced to applause on Monday at a meeting between President Cristina Kirchner, her cabinet and Argentine governors, and came despite warnings from Madrid and EU officials.

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