DuPont held merger talks with Monsanto early this year as part of a plan to build up its life sciences business, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The talks took place as DuPont was negotiating to buy the 80 percent of Pioneer Hi-Bred International that it didn't already own. Pioneer agreed to sell, though DuPont left open the possibility of a deal with Monsanto after the Pioneer buyout.

SBC Communications' $1.7 billion purchase of wireless telephone licenses throughout Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey from Comcast Cellular Holdings was approved by the Federal Communications Commission. San Antonio-based SBC announced the deal with Philadelphia-based Comcast in January.

Oldsmobile's Cutlass is no more. The last car rolled off the assembly line in Oklahoma City, ending a lengthy run for the nameplate that graced the top-selling automobile in the nation in 1976, when more than 500,000 Cutlasses were sold. Last year the entire Oldsmobile division sold 330,000 vehicles.

US West said it will announce plans for merger talks with Qwest Communications International. US West had agreed to merge with Global Crossing and resisted Qwest's attempts to break up the deal, but Global Crossing share prices have since dropped significantly. US West said Global Crossing had consented to the decision to open talks with Qwest, but added that US West is not saying that Qwest's offer is superior to Global Crossing's.

F.W. Woolworth former employees, claiming they were fired because they were over age 40, are suing the parent company of the defunct five-and-dime chain for millions of dollars in back pay and damages. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the class-action suit on behalf of 300 to 400 fired workers, said its investigation uncovered "a very clear pattern of age discrimination" between September 1995 and November 1997, when Woolworth began closing its stores around the country. A spokesman for Venator, the new name of Woolworth and operator of Foot Locker and Champs stores, declined to comment.

Ford and General Motors reported strong June sales, aided by strong demand for trucks. Ford sold a record 429,571 cars and trucks, while GM had its best month in 10 years with 490,196 vehicles sold.

INTERNATIONAL

Coca-Cola bought everyone in Belgium a Coke after a contamination scare that forced the recall of millions of soft drinks across Europe. A company spokesman said 5,000 workers put coupons in the mailboxes of every home in Belgium; each is good for a 1.5-liter bottle of a Coca-Cola product.

RECALLS

Gerber Products is recalling 300,000 Lil' Sport Spill Proof Sport Bottles because a valve can detach and choke young children, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said. Consumers should return the bottles to the store or call Gerber at 1-800-4-GERBER.

LOCAL BUSINESS

E-Net, the Germantown telecommunications software firm, reported a loss of $3.1 million for its fourth quarter, ended March 31, compared with a loss of $1.6 million a year earlier. For the full year, E-Net lost $9.3 million, compared with a loss of $3.9 million a year earlier, due to increases in research and development and administrative costs. The company took a charge to write down inventory in the fourth quarter.

Crestline Capital said its board of directors authorized an expansion of the Bethesda-based company's stock repurchase program, allowing it buy up to $25 million more of its common stock. The move is intended to increase shareholder value by boosting the stock price. Crestline's repurchase program had been limited to 1.5 million shares; it purchased 1.45 million shares of common stock for about $22 million.