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DALLAS (AP) -- Canadian National Railway Co. and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. plan to merge their rail operations in a $6 billion deal that would create the largest railroad in North America.

The aim of the deal announced today is to provide a unified rail transport service throughout Canada and the United States.

The combined company would have about 50,000 miles of track. Rails would extend from Los Angeles to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and from the Gulf of Mexico to Vancouver, British Columbia.

The new company, which would be called North American Railways and be based in Montreal, would outrank Union Pacific Corp. as the biggest line on the continent, according to the new company. The companies currently employ about 67,000 people and generate more than $12.5 billion in annual revenue.

Monsanto to merge with Pharmacia

St. LOUIS (Bloomberg) -- Monsanto Co. and rival drugmaker Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc. agreed to merge in a $26.6 billion stock transaction and sell part of the agriculture business that has dragged down Monsanto's share price.

Monsanto stockholders will exchange each share for one in the combined company in what's described as a merger of equals without a premium. Pharmacia holders will get 1.19 shares for each of theirs, valuing them at 1.1 percent below Friday's close.

A merger would add Monsanto's blockbuster arthritis drug Celebrex to a raft of new products that have helped Pharmacia reverse its troubled fortunes following the merger that formed it in 1995. The combined company would sell up to 20 percent of Monsanto's agriculture unit in an initial public offering.

Together, Monsanto and Pharmacia would create a company with drug sales of more than $9 billion a year, on a par with 11th-ranked Eli Lilly and Co., and a combined research and development budget of $2 billion a year, rivaling industry leader Pfizer Inc.'s $2.8 billion.

Saturn workers approve contract

SPRING HILL, Tenn. (AP) -- Auto workers on Sunday overwhelmingly approved a new contract with Saturn Corp. that would alter the risk-reward arrangement that helped make Saturn "a different kind of car company."

Union workers voted 2,220-271 for the four-year contract covering Saturn's 7,200 workers in Spring Hill and about 100 at the company's engineering center in Madison Heights, Mich.

Intel ships faster Pentium III chips

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Bloomberg) -- Intel Corp., the world's biggest chipmaker, said Sunday it is shipping new Pentium III microprocessors that leapfrog Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s products in the race for the fastest personal computer chips.

Intel is shipping 800 megahertz Pentium IIIs, which run at faster speeds that AMD's 750MHz Athlon chips. Before this chip, Intel's fastest chip ran at 733MHz.

Cummins to split engine venture

COLUMBUS, Ind. (Bloomberg) -- Cummins Engine Co., the world's largest maker of high-power diesel engines, will take a fourth-quarter charge of $44 million, or $1.15 a share, to split an unprofitable diesel-engine venture in Europe.

Cummins, which has a plant in Jamestown, formed the joint venture with Wartsila NSD, the largest unit of Finland's Metra Oyj, in 1995 to develop and build high-speed diesel and natural-gas engines for use in power generation and shipping. The Cummins Wartsila venture, which employed about 900 people, was expanded in 1997 to include marketing, sales and service of the engines.

This week in business . . .

These are the major business and economic events scheduled for this week.

-- Tuesday -- Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee meets. Treasury Department releases federal budget statement for November.

-- Wednesday -- Commerce Department releases third-quarter, final Gross Domestic Product.

-- Thursday -- Bond market closes early (2 p.m. EST) and commodity markets are on an abbreviated schedule. Commerce Department reports personal income and spending for November, durable goods for November. Labor Department reports weekly jobless claims. Federal Open Market Committee releases minutes of Nov. 16 meeting.

-- Friday -- Christmas Eve. Most financial markets around the world are closed.

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