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Phelps Dodge Launches Hostile Bid for Asarco, Cyprus Amax

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Phelps Dodge

(PD)

announced plans to forge a hostile takeover bid for

Asarco

(AR)

and

Cyprus Amax Minerals

(CYM)

worth $2.5 billion in stock. Asarco and Cyprus declined Phelps' previous offers, attempting to proceed with their own pending merger. Phelps said it would solicit proxies from shareholders in an effort to disband the duo and has also filed legal proceedings against the Asarco and Cyprus, alleging they breached fiduciary duties.

In other postclose news (earnings estimates from

First Call

; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified):

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Whole Foods Market

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said a blow from its main distributor

United Natural Foods

(UNFI)

won't leave much of a bruise on its fourth-quarter report. The supermarket operator said it anticipates the impact to scrape a penny off of earnings. Analysts expect the company to earn 41 cents a share, up from the year-ago 40 cents. In two regions, Whole Foods stores saw sales effected by to "higher than normal out of stock conditions."

Progressive

(PGR)

said it expects third-quarter earnings to disappoint Wall Street analysts, citing higher initial costs to redirect the company's focus and the effects of previous price cuts. The insurance holding company also said it might have trouble posting a GAAP underwriting profit for the period. Third-quarter estimates call for $1.46 a share.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Thomas & Betts

(TNB)

said

AFC Cable Systems

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has iced their planned merger and will accept a rival bid, if Thomas & Betts doesn't up its offer. Thomas & Betts said it informed AFC Cable that it does not plan to offer a competitive bid and will walk away from their former deal under the transaction's agreement. The union, based on Friday's closing prices, was worth about $35.54 a share, or $462 million.

Offerings and stock actions

American International Group

(AIG)

said it will initiate a 10-million share repurchasing program. The company said it currently has an estimated 1.5 billion shares outstanding.

Freemont General

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announced a plans to buy back up to $50 million of its common stock. The company said that its employee benefit trust would purchase the stock.

Miscellany

ARM Financial Group

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said CEO Martin Ruby resigned. The company's treasurer, Peter Resnik told

Reuters

that Ruby's departure was a "mutually agreed-upon decision." Ruby's resignation comes after ARM posted a disappointing second-quarter loss of $173.9 million. ARM has employed

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

to find a buyer for the company.