Cna Raises The Ax Over Continental

CONTINENTAL INSURANCE IS about to get a lesson in efficiency. CNA Financial, an insurer controlled by Laurence Tisch's Loews Corp., agreed on Dec. 6 to buy ailing Continental for $1.1 billion. The deal, which creates the seventh-largest U.S. insurance group, makes sense--if CNA can get big cost savings. Analysts expect layoffs at Continental, as CNA merges systems, sales offices, and management. Can it work? "It's still up in the air," says Prudential Securities analyst Carol Manning. "It has the potential to be a good deal."

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