The Federal Trade Commission will tell Congress today that legislation "to address online privacy is not appropriate at this time." That's the conclusion of a new FTC report about the progress of self-regulation by companies doing business on the World Wide Web. While such companies need to improve how they handle personal information, they have made strides in notifying computer users about how data is gathered and used, the report said.
Quebecor Printing plans to buy World Color Press for $2.7 billion in cash, stock and assumed debt to create the world's largest commercial printing company. Quebecor, a unit of Montreal-based Quebecor Inc., will first buy with cash as many as 23.5 million shares of common stock representing about 62 percent of the outstanding shares of World Color, based in Greenwich, Conn.
Schlumberger of Dallas will spin off its offshore drilling operations and combine them with Transocean Offshore to create the world's largest offshore drilling company. The new company, to be based in Houston, will be called Transocean Sedco Forex and have about 7,500 employees, officials said. Schlumberger stockholders will receive new shares valued at $3.2 billion as part of the agreement.
Accor, the Paris-based owner of the Motel 6 chain, offered to buy Red Roof Inns for $673 million. Accor plans to merge the two chains to create Accor Economy Lodging, a subsidiary with about 120,000 rooms in more than 1,100 motels. Combined, the two chains would make Accor the No. 2 player in the "limited-services" category of the hotel industry, said John Rohs, an analyst with Schroder & Co. in New York. Days Inn is the industry leader.
Coca-Cola Enterprises, the bottler stung when dozens of Europeans became sick after drinking Coca-Cola products, said the scare would cost it $103 million in the second quarter, up from an earlier estimate of $60 million. The recall will also hurt second-quarter sales, cash operating profit and earnings per share in the affected countries, Coca-Cola Enterprises said.
IBM announced it would pay $810 million for Sequent Computer Systems, a struggling maker of powerful business computers, in a cash deal that aims to fill an important slot in IBM's product line. Sequent is a leading seller of high-end computers and software that use Intel's microprocessor chips. IBM plans to use Sequent's specialized technology in networked machines.
Metropolitan Life, the second-largest U.S. life insurer, said it will buy St. Paul Cos.' car and home insurance business for $600 million to boost its property and casualty unit before it becomes a public company. Met Life said the purchase would make it the 12th-largest U.S. insurer of homes and autos, up from 20th, with annual premiums of about $2.7 billion.
The SEC is stepping up exams of mutual-fund company advertisements to determine whether they are distorting their results by using selective time periods. Fund ads that contain deceptive information or omit significant data might be considered fraudulent even if they contain the most recent yearly results required under SEC rules.
Sprint plans to open a 90,000-square-foot Sprint PCS customer service center in Nashville that will add up to 1,100 jobs to the local economy. Sprint PC, based in Kansas City, Mo., is the wireless telecommunications arm of long-distance provider Sprint Corp.
T-bill rates were mixed. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday rose to 4.600 percent from 4.590 percent last week. Rates on six-month bills fell to 4.540 percent from 4.590 percent. The actual return to investors is 4.733 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,883.70, and 4.724 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,770.50. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, fell to 5.06 percent last week from 5.11 percent the previous week.
A jury in Ceres, Calif., awarded $295 million to the family of a couple and their son who were killed in the rollover of a Ford Bronco. The verdict came three days after a Los Angeles jury awarded a record $4.9 billion to six people who were severely burned when their Chevrolet exploded in a rear-end collision. The jury in the Bronco case deliberated five days before awarding $5 million in compensation to three members of the victims' family and $290 million in punitive damages, Ford said.
Royal & SunAlliance Insurance Group of London has agreed to buy the insurance company Orion Capital, based in Farmington, Conn., for $1.4 billion. The deal would give Orion shareholders $50 a share, a 23 percent premium over its Friday closing share price and a 65 percent premium from the share price a month ago. Orion shares soared $6.56 1/4, to close at $47.31 1/4 a share on the New York Stock Exchange. Both boards have approved the transaction, Royal & SunAlliance said.
Gasoline prices jumped nearly 2 cents in the past two weeks because of rising crude oil prices and increased demand, an industry analyst said. The national weighted average, including all grades and taxes, was $1.2153 Friday, up 1.93 cents a gallon from the previous survey on June 25, said Trilby Lundberg, publisher of the Lundberg Survey of 10,000 gas stations nationwide.
Computer Associates International chief executive Charles Wang's total compensation rose about 41 times to $655.4 million in fiscal 1999, due to a $650.8 million bonus in restricted stock. Wang's annual salary of $1 million for the year ended March 31 was unchanged from the prior fiscal year and his bonus fell 40 percent, to $3.6 million from $6 million, according to a SEC filing. Wang's total pay last year was $16 million.
Argentina's stock market fell 8.7 percent after a leading presidential candidate issued a call for a moratorium on international debt. Although economists say chances of a Russia-style debt default are remote in Argentina, the comments by candidate Eduardo Duhalde added angst to the nation's markets, already rattled by a deepening recession, rising unemployment and looming political turmoil.
Microsoft said it will invest $400 million in Rogers Communications as part of an agreement to develop and sell interactive television services in Canada. Under the agreement, Rogers, Canada's largest cable TV operator, will license Microsoft software to support at least 1 million advanced set-top boxes. The companies will also work together to customize Microsoft software to Rogers's needs and development of new digital services.
Volkswagen said first-half unit sales rose 9.2 percent from the year-earlier period as Europe's largest carmaker revised figures released earlier this month. The maker of the Golf compact and Audi luxury cars said it sold 2.496 million cars in the six months through June. Earlier this month, the company released preliminary figures showing that first-half unit sales grew 8.5 percent.
Nippon Telegraph & Telephone said it will buy back as many as 80,000 of its shares for about $1 billion, the first time the Japanese telecommunications giant has repurchased its stocks. The Japanese government said it would sell some of the NTT shares it holds to keep the government's stake in NTT at 59.1 percent.
MedImmune of Gaithersburg and partner BioTransplant of Charlestown, Mass., reported encouraging results in preliminary tests of an experimental treatment for graft-versus-host disease, a serious and often fatal complication of bone-marrow transplants. Twelve of 17 patients who had exhausted other treatment options improved on the drug, the companies said. Larger tests are underway.
ICF Kaiser International has been awarded a five-year $24.7 million contract to continue providing construction management, engineering and other services to the District's Water and Sewer Authority at its Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Facility. ICF had been providing construction management services at the massive Blue Plains facility since 1994.
CAPTION: (This graphic was not available)Treasury Bills