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Local phone companies filed plans with federal regulators to slash by hundreds of millions of dollars the fees they charge long-distance firms to connect to their networks. Bell Atlantic is proposing to cut its access fees by $235 million; BellSouth proposed cutting charges by $150 million -- $120 million of that in access fees. Ameritech said it will slash its access fees by $87.7 million. Such reductions could lead to lower consumer long-distance rates.
Deutsche Bank said chief executive Rolf Breuer and three board members are being examined by German authorities in an investigation of whether the bank helped clients evade taxes. Meanwhile, the bank is holding an internal inquiry at New York-based Bankers Trust, which it bought last month to become the world's biggest bank, into possible mishandling of an investigation of illegal fund transfers. Chief Financial Officer Richard Daniel and 12 other Bankers Trust officials announced their resignations after the parent company said the probe might result in the dismissal of executives at the U.S. unit. The 13 were involved in the probe of Bankers Trust's illegal transfer of customer funds to boost profits from 1994 to 1996, a practice that ended before Daniel joined the bank in April 1996.
Best Buy will likely offer free personal computers -- possibly within the next 60 days -- to customers who contract with the retailer for Internet service.
Cendant, a hotel-franchising and direct-marketing company that owns such brands as Days Inn and Howard Johnson, will pay as much as $1.1 billion to buy back about 7 percent of its shares to boost its stock price. Cendant's board authorized the purchase of 50 million shares through a Dutch auction, by which the offering price is gradually raised until enough shares are tendered. The company has set a range of $19.75 to $22.50 a share for the auction.
Sun Microsystems chief executive Scott McNealy said the government should resolve Microsoft's antitrust trial by barring the company from making acquisitions. Allowing Microsoft to acquire smaller technology companies is akin to "Standard Oil buying up all the gas stations in the U.S.," McNealy told Congress's Joint Economic Committee. He also suggested that the government require Microsoft to open its Windows operating system and Office software package so competitors could build programs using Microsoft code.
Starbucks is in talks with the Kraft Foods unit of Philip Morris to distribute its Tazo tea line to supermarkets, and it expects to add about 500 coffeehouses in North America this year, President Orin Smith said. The Seattle company also wants to build its presence on the Internet and will announce parts of that strategy over next few months.
SuperValu expects to make more acquisitions of supermarket chains and to benefit in its food-distribution business from the consolidation of the grocery industry, chairman and chief executive Michael Wright said at a conference for investors in Minneapolis. Wright also said he doesn't expect any other bidders to emerge for Richfood Holdings, which SuperValu agreed to buy last week for about $1.5 billion.
Navistar International, the world's fourth-largest truckmaker, and Siemens, Germany's biggest electronics and engineering company, plan to build a diesel-fuel injector plant in South Carolina.
Wendy McCaw, ex-wife of cellular pioneer Craig McCaw, sold 3.61 million Nextel Communications Class A common shares to finance the exercise of stock options. As part of a 1997 divorce settlement, Wendy McCaw received shares with an estimated value of at least $460 million.
Microlog of Germantown named Stephen Smith chief executive and president, effective Monday. Smith comes to the company from SpeechWorks International, a Boston speech-recognition company, where he has been vice president of sales. He replaces David Levi, who took the job on an interim basis after Richard Thompson resigned as CEO in March.
AntexBiologics said it was encouraged by preliminary tests of a potential vaccine against Campylobacter, a germ that causes many cases of food poisoning and diarrhea. The Gaithersburg company said it would move toward advanced tests to prove the vaccine works.