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Eli Lilly reportedly offers $6.1 billion for ImClone

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co. reportedly is the secret suitor that's been courting ImClone Systems and is offering approximately $6.1 billion for the biotech company.

Indianapolis-based Lilly is in advanced talks about the deal, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The newspaper said Lilly is the unnamed large pharmaceutical company that ImClone's chairman, Carl Icahn, has said offered three weeks ago to acquire the company for about $70 a share, pending a review of its books.

ImClone shares shot higher on the news, rising $2.95, or 4.7 percent, to $65.35, and an additional 20 cents in after-hours trading.

The deadline for the review of ImClone's books to be completed was just before midnight Wednesday, at which point ImClone said it would reveal the suitor's identity and whether there was a firm deal or the potential buyer had backed out.


Southwest adding city

DALLAS (AP) -- Southwest Airlines Co. plans to begin service next March to Minneapolis, its first new city in more than a year, even as the airline faces a "very significant risk of slowing demand" due to an economic slowdown, Chief Executive Gary Kelly said Wednesday.

The Minneapolis service will initially be limited to flights to and from Chicago.

Southwest serves more than 60 U.S. cities, including Buffalo, but has curtailed growth in recent years.

The airline's chief financial officer said Southwest has "very limited financing needs" and little immediate exposure to the turmoil in the financial markets.


Paper skips debt payment

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Star Tribune said it skipped a $9 million quarterly debt payment to senior creditors to save cash as it tries to restructure its debt.

All options were on the table, including a bankruptcy filing, chairman and publisher Christopher Harte told the newspaper, according to a story published Wednesday on its Web site.

Harte said the newspaper is profitable, but is carrying $432 million in debt. Avista Capital Partners, which bought the state's largest newspaper in March 2007, doesn't disclose revenue and expense figures for the Star Tribune.


Deal inked on digital movies

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Five Hollywood studios have agreed to help pay for a $1 billion-plus rollout of digital technology on about 20,000 movie screens in North America, a precursor to showing movies in 3-D.

Digital Cinema Implementation Partners, a consortium of major theater chains including Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment, announced the deal Wednesday. The rollout in the U.S. and Canada, covering about half of all screens, is planned to start early next year.

More than 20 movies in 3-D are set to hit theaters through 2010, but only 873 locations in the U.S. and Canada, with 1,264 3-D screens, can currently show them, according to The Walt Disney Co., a signatory to the digital rollout.

Disney expects 1,500 to 2,000 locations, many with multiple screens, to be able to show 3-D movies by the end of 2009.

Other studios in the deal include Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox, General Electric Co.'s Universal Pictures and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

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