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Microsoft, E.U. Reach Accord

Tuesday, March 29, 2005; Page E02

Microsoft said it would use an "N" to designate Windows XP versions stripped of the company's media player to comply with an antitrust judgment from the European Union. The agreement with the E.U. came after antitrust regulators rejected Microsoft's first choice, "Windows XP Reduced Media Edition," on grounds it would discourage sales and mislead customers. The "N" would stand for "not with media player." A year ago, E.U. regulators ordered Microsoft to produce for European consumers a version of Windows without media player software for viewing video and listening to audio. Regulators had ruled that Microsoft abusively wielded its monopoly to lock out competitors.

SunGard Sold to Investment Firms

SunGard Data Systems, a financial data company, has been bought by a consortium of seven private investment firms for $11.3 billion, the companies said. The consortium is made up of Silver Lake Partners, Bain Capital, Blackstone Group, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Providence Equity Partners and Texas Pacific Group. SunGard's board of directors approved the merger, and it is expected to be completed in the third quarter, subject to stockholder and regulatory approval.

A Japanese commission ruled that relaxing domestic cattle testing standards for mad cow disease won't put consumers at risk, raising the possibility that Tokyo will reopen its market to U.S. beef imports. Testing will exclude low-risk cattle younger than 21 months. (Katsumi Kasahara -- AP)


Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts agreed to pay $17.5 million to stockholders who complained they were being jilted by the casino company's bankruptcy reorganization plan. In addition to the cash payment, the Official Committee of Equity Security Holders -- which represents about 20,000 holders of Trump Hotels shares -- also would share in the proceeds from the sale of land that had been earmarked for Chairman Donald Trump.

A federal judge granted a delay of nearly nine months in the fraud and money-laundering trial of a former senior vice president at Qwest Communications International. Attorneys for Marc Weisberg sought the delay, citing the complexity of the case. Weisberg is the highest-ranking former Qwest executive to face criminal charges since the government began investigating the telecommunications giant in 2002.

Eastman Kodak has been asked by the Justice Department to provide more information about the company's proposed acquisition of Creo. Kodak, the world's largest photography company, wants to buy the Canadian maker of digital-printing equipment to reduce its dependence on film.

IAC/InterActiveCorp, billionaire Barry Diller's Internet company, will give $250 million in cash to its Expedia unit to provide it with capital when it is spun off as a public company. Expedia, which will consist of travel businesses Hotels.com, Hotwire, Expedia.com and other Web sites, will have a revolving credit line of $500 million at the time of the spinoff, IAC reported in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The spinoff is expected sometime in the second quarter, after IAC's purchase of Ask Jeeves closes.

Digital Impact, an online direct marketer, said it agreed to be bought out by Acxiom, one of the country's largest consumer data brokers, for $3.50 per share, or about $140 million, a significant premium to its Thursday closing price and an earlier offer from InfoUSA. Boards of both companies have approved the deal, and all of Digital Impact's directors and key officers have agreed to sell their shares. Acxiom and Digital Impact expect to close the offer in 30 days, subject to regulatory approvals.

T-bill rates were mixed. Interest rates on three-month bills fell to 2.78 percent from 2.8 percent the previous week. The rate on six-month bills rose to 3.09 percent from 3.035 percent. The actual return to investors is 2.839 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,929.73, and 3.183 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,843.78. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, rose to 3.38 percent last week from 3.31 percent the previous week.

Google said it has agreed to acquire San Diego-based Urchin Software, which makes software to help companies analyze their Web site traffic. Terms were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close by the end of April.

Nasdaq will seek regulatory approval to let its customers trade New York Stock Exchange-listed stocks through its own electronic platform. The transactions will be executed through its Brut electronic exchange, which it acquired from SunGard Data Systems for $190 million.

Toys R Us was sued by a pension plan representing Pennsylvania ironworkers that says its shares are undervalued in a $6.6 billion plan to take the company private.

VeriSign would retain control of the world's fourth-largest Internet domain -- ".net" -- after beating out several other companies in a competitive bidding process, the Internet's key oversight body said. VeriSign and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers will immediately begin negotiations on a new contract for maintaining a registry of the 5 million addresses ending in ".net". The second-ranked bidder, Sterling-based NeuStar, would only be considered if those talks fell through, ICANN spokesman Kieran Baker said.

DreamWorks Animation, creator of "Shrek," said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that stockholders including Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, Lee Entertainment and Vivendi Universal Entertainment plan to sell $500 million worth of shares. The shareholders are taking advantage of an almost 40 percent increase in DreamWorks Animation's shares since its October initial public offering. Founders Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg aren't selling stock, the company said.

L. Dennis Kozlowski, former chief executive of Tyco International, and ex-finance chief Mark H. Swartz were not authorized to award themselves bonuses, a former director testified at their fraud and larceny trial. Peter Slusser said he never heard about more than $100 million in cash payments and forgiven loans to the executives.

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