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Ford of Canada cut the likelihood of a strike by the Canadian Auto Workers union in half by making a better contract offer, the union president says.

Sunday's offer by the automaker rekindled stalled negotiations between Ford and the CAW, which represents almost 13,000 workers in Canada. The present contract expires at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

"We were all very optimistic we could put together a good agreement here. Fifty percent means there really is a possibility this can be done without a strike," union President Buzz Hargrove said.

A strike at Ford could affect production of some of the company's most profitable vehicles. Its Windsor, Ontario, plant makes engines for the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles, the Ford Windstar minivan and other trucks.

The average production line worker earns a base wage of $16.22 an hour Canadian.

Rolls-Royce OKs deal with Vickers
LONDON (AP) -- Aircraft engine-maker Rolls-Royce PLC has reached an agreement to buy Britain's Vickers PLC for about $933 million, saying it wants to become a leading world manufacturer of marine power systems.

Vickers' board has approved the deal, which was disclosed today.

Vickers' products include Challenger tanks, the British army's main battle tank, motor vehicle and defense systems and components for gas turbines.

Rolls-Royce makes marine power systems, as well as aircraft engines.

VoiceStream Wireless acquires Aerial
BELLEVUE, WASH. (Bridge News) -- VoiceStream Wireless Corp. said it has agreed to buy Chicago-based cellular telephone operator Aerial Communications Inc. for about $1.8 billion in stock, giving it a coast-to-coast network that will reach three-quarters of the U.S. population.

VoiceStream said it will pay 0.455 share for each share of Aerial, valuing Aerial at $25.51 per share--a 28 percent premium to its closing stock price on Friday. Aerial shareholders can opt to receive $18 per share in cash in lieu of stock.

The purchase of Aerial represents a major building block in VoiceStream's effort to assemble a nationwide wireless network. Aerial serves 330,000 customers in markets ranging from St. Petersburg, Florida to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

VoiceStream last year agreed to buy East Coast wireless provider Omnipoint Corp. for $5.5 billion in cash, stock and assumed debt.

With the addition of Aerial, VoiceStream said its network will reach 22 of the 25 largest markets in the United States.

French supermarket to sell cars
PARIS (AP) -- Coffee, tea or cars? The French supermarket chain Auchan will be selling all three items, and enticing loyalty card holders with hefty discounts on the automobiles, a published report said.

Customers holding Auchan cards would be offered discounts of 5 percent to 24 percent on dealer prices for 25 car models, weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche reported Sunday.

The 1.2 million people with the Auchan card -- which costs $8 -- can claim discounts on models from leading manufacturers such as Renault, Peugeot, Ford and Volkswagen, the newspaper said.

All the cardholder needs to do is make a toll-free call to Auchan's partner IES, which then buys the requested model outside of France, passing on the differences in pricing set by automakers from one country to another.

According to Le Journal du Dimanche, Auchan sees this as a test exercise, and doesn't rule out eventually selling cars straight out of its stores.

This week in business
Here are the major business and economic events scheduled for this week:

Tuesday -- The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing to compare traditional pension plans with cash benefit plans, and their impact on workers; the Commerce Department will report on international trade for July, and the House Banking and Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on Russian bank corruption.

Wednesday -- The Federal Reserve will release its survey of regional economic conditions as compiled by the Fed's 12 regional banks, and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries begins a meeting in Vienna.

Thursday -- The Labor Department will report on weekly jobless claims.

Saturday -- Finance ministers from the Group of 24 poor nations will meet in Washington.

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