Mo. bank to buy largest in Ark.Boatmen's...

Mo. bank to buy largest in Ark.

Boatmen's Bancshares of St. Louis said yesterday that it would buy Worthen Bancshares, the largest bank in Arkansas, for $595 million in stock.


The Stephens family, one of the most powerful in Arkansas and longtime backers of President Clinton, own 26 percent of Worthen's stock. As a result of the acquisition, the family will now own 4.3 percent of Boatmen's.

Boatmen's, the largest bank in Missouri and the 29th largest in the nation, with $27.6 billion in assets, has been rapidly expanding in the Midwest and Southwest and owns banks in nine states.


Boatmen's is paying $34 a share for Worthen, about twice its book value of $17.22.

Insurer cuts dividend, more jobs

Struggling Continental Corp., one of the country's largest property and casualty insurers, said yesterday that it is eliminating its shareholder dividend, cutting more jobs and looking for new sources of cash.

The moves are the latest of a series by the parent of Continental Insurance to strengthen its financial position in light of weak earnings due to high claims for catastrophes. The company's board voted yesterday to eliminate its 25-cent quarterly dividend.

Continental also announced plans to eliminate about 2,000 jobs, or about 16 percent of its work force of 12,255. That's about 500 more jobs than the company said it would eliminate earlier this year.

Mining equipment makers join

Harnischfeger Industries Inc. said yesterday that it would acquire Joy Technologies Inc. in a $391.6 million merger of two large mining equipment manufacturers.

Harnischfeger, a Brookfield, Wis., maker of surface mining equipment, would have annual revenues of $2 billion after acquiring Joy, a Pittsburgh-based manufacturer of underground coal mining equipment.


Owners of each Joy share would receive 0.5652 of a share of Harnischfeger stock. Based on yesterday's closing price of $22.125 for a share of Harnischfeger, the deal is valued at $391.6 million.

New jobless claims up 3,000

The number of new claims for state unemployment benefits rose a modest 3,000 last week as summer hiring continued to taper off, the government said yesterday.

The Labor Department said initial claims totaled a seasonally adjusted 327,000 in the week that ended Aug. 13, up from a revised 324,000 the previous week. The number initially reported was 321,000.

It was the second consecutive weekly increase after two weeks of substantial declines when textile and auto workers who had been idled by seasonal plant closings returned to payrolls.