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SEARS AND KODAK COMBINE FOR 9,000 MORE JOB CUTS

Sears, Roebuck and Co. is eliminating 4,900 salaried jobs over the next 18 months and revising its merchandise offerings as part of a cost-cutting overhaul.

The announcement came as Sears reported a slight gain in third-quarter earnings and outlined a new strategy that moves the retailer further from a traditional department-store company and closer to a discount store.

The nation's fourth-largest retailer, has been losing ground in recent years to such discounters as Kohl's and Target.

And in Rochester, N.Y., Eastman Kodak said today it is cutting between 3,500 and 4,000 more jobs, or up to 5.1 percent of its work force, as the world's biggest photography company struggles to rebound from a yearlong slump in film sales it blamed largely on a lagging economy.

Kodak, which already targeted 3,500 job cuts in April, announced the new job cutting plans today as it reported that third-quarter profits sank 77 percent to $96 million, or 33 cents a share, down from $418 million, or $1.36 a share, last year.

Sales dropped 8 percent to $3.31 billion from $3.59 billion.

Merger on for food giants

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A business marriage of the Pillsbury Doughboy and Betty Crocker moved ahead Tuesday when the Federal Trade Commission deadlocked on approving General Mills's $6.1 billion purchase of Pillsbury Co.

The vote was 2-2, but without a majority vote against the merger, the deal can continue, said William Kovacic, the commission's general counsel.

The purchase of Pillsbury from Diageo PLC, a London-based food and drinks conglomerate, creates the world's fifth-largest packaged food company. Under the deal, General Mills will assume $5.3 billion in debt.

Pillsbury, symbolized worldwide by the Pillsbury Doughboy, is the No. 1 producer of refrigerated doughs in the United States. It also makes Green Giant vegetables, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, Old El Paso Mexican foods and Progresso soups.

General Mills is the nation's No. 1 cereal maker, including Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Trix and Wheaties. It also makes Yoplait and Columbo yogurt, Betty Crocker dessert mixes, Hamburger Helper, Bisquik and snacks such as Chex Mix and Pop Secret popcorn.

Bank fires 2 over anthrax hoax

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., the second-largest U.S. bank, fired two employees over an anthrax hoax, the New York Post reported.

Walter Robokoff, a vice president, told the Post he was fired after leaving an envelope dusted with powder on his desk. The envelope was given to him as a joke by a co-worker, who was also fired, he said.

J.P. Morgan Chase officials declined to comment, the paper said.

Hershey sets layoffs, closings

HERSHEY, Pa. (Bloomberg) -- Hershey Foods Corp., the biggest U.S. chocolate maker, plans to eliminate about 8 percent of its salaried work force and close three manufacturing plants to direct more money to marketing and selling.

The company will take a $275 million, or $1.24 a share, pretax charge for the restructuring, Hershey said in a statement. The company will take the bulk of the charge, or $1.08 a share, this quarter.

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