Widespread layoffs are expected at Kidder, Peabody Group Inc. following PaineWebber Group Inc.'s long-anticipated acquisition of certain assets of the firm from General Electric Co.

PaineWebber strongly covets Kidder's retail business, which employs 1,150 brokers in 50 branch offices, Wall Street observers said. But overlap between the two firms clearly exists in other areas, such as underwriting, public finance, trading, and sales, leaving the fate of Kidder's remaining workforce far more tenuous.

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