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Check out which companies are making headlines before the bell:

Alcoa—The aluminum producer will split into two separate publicly traded companies, one focusing on upstream activities, the other concentrating on "value-add" businesses. The upstream company will retain the Alcoa name, while the other will be named prior to the closing of the split. Alcoa anticipates completing the split in the second half of 2016.

Media GeneralNexstar Broadcasting is offering to buy the local TV station owner for $14.50 per share in cash and stock. Media General currently has a deal in place to buy TV station operator and magazine publisher Meredith Corp.

The Williams Companies—Williams will be combined with Energy Transfer Equity in a deal worth $37.7 billion, including assumed debt.

Baker Hughes—The oilfield services company and rival Halliburton announced proposals to divest additional businesses, in hopes of winning regulatory approval for Halliburton's pending purchase of Baker Hughes.

Citigroup—Credit Suisse upgraded the bank's stock to "buy" from "hold," citing an attractive risk/reward profile despite potential short term headwinds.

JC Penney—The retailer's shares were upgraded to "buy" from "neutral" at Sterne Agee CRT, saying it's more confident in the company's turnaround plan following a meeting with new CEO Marvin Ellison.

Newell Rubbermaid—Jefferies began coverage of the household products maker with a "buy" rating, also adding the stock to its "franchise pick" list. It points to accelerating sales growth compared to its peers, among other factors.

Abbvie—Citi upgraded the drug maker to "neutral" from "sell," following a 15 percent drop year-to-date as well as an extended timeline before AbbVie's best-selling Humira faces generic competition.

Vodafone—The mobile operator pulled out of asset exchange talks with Liberty Global. The two sides could not agree on the value of their assets.

Novo Nordisk—Novo Nordisk received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for its diabetes drug Tresiba, clearing the way for the Dutch company's largest-ever drug launch.

Royal Dutch Shell—Shell is ending exploration in the Arctic waters off Alaska after failing to discover a sufficient amount of crude oil. The company may take a charge of up to $4.1 billion as a result.

Comcast—The NBCUniversal and CNBC parent will buy a 51 percent stake in Japan theme park operator USJ for $1.5 billion. USJ is the operator of Universal Studios Japan.

Sanofi—The drug maker won European approval for its cholesterol treatment Praluent.

Facebook—Facebook introduced new advertising products aimed at television advertisers. That comes ahead of New York City's "Advertising Week" event, with Facebook also announcing it now has 2.5 million active advertisers compared to 2 million in February.

Sprint—The mobile operator will not participate in a scheduled auction of government airwaves set for early 2016, saying it has adequate spectrum for its future needs.

Fiat Chrysler—The automaker's tentative four-year labor agreement with the United Auto Workers Union is running into strong opposition from members, judging from early voting. Final results are not expecting to come until the middle of next week.

Atmel—Atmel is in play once again, with Reuters reporting that Cypress Semiconductor is putting together a bid for the chipmaker. Atmel has already agreed to sell itself to Dialog Semiconductor.

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