Economy Briefs: ExxonMobil, Citgo face complex trial

CONCORD — Nearly a decade after it was first brought, a lawsuit accusing two oil giants of widespread groundwater contamination in New Hampshire is expected to present jurors with the most complex and time-consuming trial in state history.

The state sued 26 oil companies and subsidiaries in 2003. It claimed the gasoline additive MTBE caused widespread groundwater contamination in a state where 60 percent of the population relies on private wells for drinking water.

All but ExxonMobil and Citgo have reached settlement agreements.

New Hampshire is seeking more than $700 million in damages to test and monitor every private well and public drinking water system in the state and to cover cleanup costs where needed.

New Hampshire’s is the first MTBE suit brought by a state to reach the trial stage.

CHINA

Firm to acquire major African iron ore mine

BEIJING | State media say a Chinese company is finalizing the acquisition of an Australian mining firm that controls a major iron ore mine in West Africa, a move that would give China a stronger role in setting global iron ore prices.

The official Xinhua News Agency, citing officials from Hanlong Group, says Hanlong will complete the acquisition of Sundance Resources Ltd. for 50 cents per share by March 1.

Sundance controls the Mbalam iron ore mine, which straddles Cameroon and the Republic of Congo.

Xinhua said Saturday that Hanlong is investing $5 billion to develop the Mbalam project — most likely in partnership with Chinese state-owned companies — and build a 340-mile railway and a shipping port.

China is eager to acquire overseas resources to feed its growth.

FRANCE

French panel rejects 75 percent tax on ultrarich

PARIS — Embattled French President Francois Hollande suffered a fresh setback Saturday when France’s highest court threw out a plan to tax the ultrawealthy at a 75 percent rate, saying it was unfair.

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