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Japanese companies continue to expand reach abroad

The Asahi Kasei Corp. of Japan agreed Monday to buy Zoll Medical, a health care equipment maker in the United States, for $2.2 billion, becoming the latest Japanese company to expand abroad.

Under the terms of the deal, Asahi will pay $93 a share, a 24 percent premium to Zoll’s Friday closing price.

While merger activity overall has slowed down in the past year, dealmakers point to a few pockets of sustained interest. One of them is Japanese companies pursuing markets overseas even as their home markets stagnate.

About $82.8 billion worth of cross-border deals involving Japanese buyers have been announced in the past 12 months, nearly quadrupling the previous year’s volume, according to data from Capital IQ, a research firm.

—Mark Scott and Michael J. De La Merced, The New York Times

Chancellor defends Germany’s nuclear power deadline

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany defended over the weekend her government’s decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022 and replace it with renewable energy sources, dismissing critics who said the government would never make the deadline.

Merkel made the decision nearly a year ago after a devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, caused a meltdown at a nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. The accident heightened anxieties about nuclear safety and set off new soul-searching about the wisdom of relying on nuclear power.

Merkel conceded in her weekly podcast that, “of course, we need a lot of new investment” for the plan to be carried out. But she insisted that her decision was the right choice.

—Melissa Eddy, The New York Times

Sarkozy, in rousing talk, takes conservative stand

PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy, trailing in opinion polls six weeks before the election, gave a rousing address to some 50,000 supporters on Sunday, striking strongly conservative notes on immigration, Islam and protectionism.

Trying to recreate the excitement of his victorious 2007 campaign, Sarkozy gathered his Cabinet; his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy; the former prime minister Edouard Balladur; Bernadette Chirac, a politician and the wife of former President Jacques Chirac; and even the actor Gerard Depardieu to hear him threaten to pull France out of the European Union’s visa-free Schengen agreement unless Europe provides better protection from illegal immigration.

—Steven Erlanger, The New York Times