Global Crossing agreed to buy Racal Telecom, operator of a fiber-optic network in Britain, for about $1.6 billion from Racal Electronics. The acquisition would be the latest in a series of major deals for Bermuda-based Global Crossing, which has been building undersea and land-based fiber-optic networks to link different continents and countries. In clinching the deal, Global Crossing outbid Energis, a British telecommunications firm, which had earlier offered $1.32 billion for Racal Telecom.

IBM said it has helped form an industry alliance to create better security for electronic-commerce transactions. In addition to IBM, the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance includes Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Intel. The alliance's purpose is to develop a universal standard for equipment and software so that computer-related companies can make personal computers more secure, IBM said.

Stock mutual funds' sales soared in the first week of October as investors were lured by the best week in three months for the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. Investors last week poured $13.3 billion into funds that invest in U.S. and international stocks, the biggest weekly inflow since at least the beginning of 1998, Trimtabs.com Investment Research said. The surge reversed an outflow of $7.5 billion the previous week.

Immunex, one of the world's biggest biotechnology companies, promoted Peggy Phillips to the newly created post of chief operating officer to supervise the integration of the company's sales and marketing units. She most recently was senior vice president for pharmaceutical development. Phillips, who has a master's degree in microbiology, was also general manager for Enbrel, a drug that Immunex says can stop the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.

Phone.com, a maker of wireless communications software based in Redwood City, Calif., has agreed to acquire the wireless business of Apion, which operates a similar business in Europe from Belfast, in a stock deal valued at $239 million. Apion's facilities in Northern Ireland will be used to create Phone.com's first product development center outside Silicon Valley and will serve as the base for expansion in Europe.

PeopleSoft, a maker of business management software, said it will buy Vantive, a maker of software used by companies to improve customer service, in a stock deal worth $433 million. Meanwhile, Vantive disclosed that it expected to report a net loss of 21 to 23 cents a share for the third quarter, because of a shortfall in software license sales in North America. Analysts had predicted it would break even.

Planet Hollywood International closed nine of its company-owned Planet Hollywood theme restaurants, seeking to emerge from bankruptcy protection smaller but profitable. Restaurants were closed in Chicago; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Gurnee, Ill.; Houston; Indianapolis; Maui, Hawaii; Miami; Phoenix; and Santa Ana, Calif. The Orlando-based company, which now owns 39 of the world's remaining 71 Planet Hollywoods (the others are owned by franchisees), said it will file for Chapter 11 protection today.

EARNINGS

Abbott Laboratories said third-quarter profit increased 10 percent, to $587 million, as rising sales of diagnostic products and some drugs made up for setbacks with other medicines.

Applied Micro Circuits, a maker of semiconductors for high-capacity communications equipment, said fiscal second-quarter earnings climbed 95 percent, to $9.1 million, on rising sales of its communications chips.

Harley-Davidson said third-quarter earnings rose 25 percent, to $65.4 million, as a new line of motorcycles and strong demand for existing models drove sales up more than 20 percent. The Milwaukee-based company also said it was raising its production target for 1999.

Rite Aid said it expected to post a loss of $67.9 million in its second fiscal quarter, which would add to a series of problems including allegations that the drugstore chain overcharged customers and sold products after their expiration date. The expected loss amounts to 26 cents a share, after charges, for the quarter ending Aug. 28, compared with analysts' expectations of a profit of 24 cents a share. A year ago, Rite Aid earned 33 cents per share, but the company also said it would restate financial statements for prior periods to reflect a change in accounting methods.

E.W. Scripps, a newspaper and television company, said its third-quarter profit fell 1.9 percent, to $25.6 million. The company attributed the decline to weak TV advertising and lower-than-forecast ratings at the Home & Garden Television cable channel.

INTERNATIONAL

British Airways said it plans to buy 12 new Airbus A-318 jetliners to replace some of its older Boeing planes on short-haul routes--a blow to Boeing, which had hoped to win a high-profile customer for its new 717 jetliner. British Airways, which also took options to buy another 12 A-318s, said it chose the European consortium's 100-passenger jet "for its superior economics, flexibility and commonality with the rest of our short-haul fleet."

DaimlerChrysler said it will invest $27.5 billion in Germany over the next three years, dampening speculation that it will move its headquarters from Germany. Recent press speculation has suggested DaimlerChrysler would move its headquarters from Germany to the United States, to either Auburn Hills, Mich., where Chrysler is based, or New York City.

LOCAL BUSINESS

Carlyle Group, a Washington investment firm, started a $300 million venture-capital fund to invest in Internet companies in Europe. Carlyle Internet Partners Europe will provide equity capital to European Internet and other information technology companies. In all, Carlyle has about $5 billion of capital under management.