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October 01, 1998

McKesson Corp., a leading North American distributor of pharmaceutical and health-care products, said it is buying a health products supply division from Novartis for about $230 million in cash and debt. The purchase of the unit, Red Line HealthCare Corp., will strengthen San Francisco-based McKesson's reach as a distributor of medical supplies and services to the long-term-care industry, McKesson said. Red Line, based in Golden Valley, Minn., has about 750 employees, supplies 10,000 U.S. customers and has annual sales of about $375 million.

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Chrysler Corp. was ordered by a Texas jury to pay $64 million in a lawsuit stemming from a 1996 crash that killed two Visalia people, the largest award ever in a Texas personal-injury case. The auto maker said it would appeal.

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Los Angeles-based Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. has agreed to acquire privately held Steel Bar Corp. of Greensboro, N.C., for an undisclosed amount. Steel Bar would become a subsidiary of Reliance's Phoenix Corp., which it acquired this year as part of its bid to expand into the Southeast.

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Los Angeles-based Erly Industries, through its subsidiary American Rice Inc., which processes and markets rice and olives, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August to prevent foreclosure on American Rice stock.

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