General Motors will buy the half of Swedish automaker Saab it doesn't already own by the end of the month, exercising an option valued by some analysts at as much as $735 million. GM will purchase Saab from Investor AB, the holding company of Sweden's Wallenberg family.

Loral Space & Communications agreed to sell two satellites, valued at about $249 million, to Intelsat, which plans to use them to expand its Internet services to customers in the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and India.

Borrowing by U.S. consumers rose by $15.6 billion in November, the biggest leap since a $17.3 billion increase in November 1995, to $1.39 trillion, Federal Reserve figures show. Loans for autos and other major purchases accounted for more than two-thirds of the jump.

SBC Communications, the largest U.S. local telephone company, asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to enter the $6.2 billion long-distance market in Texas. The move came less than a month after the agency granted Bell Atlantic permission to sell long-distance service in New York, making it the first regional phone company to be allowed to offer long-distance connections.

The Federal Labor Relations Board has ruled that the Securities and Exchange Commission must allow a vote on whether the National Treasury Employees Union will represent SEC employees in a single bargaining unit. The case went to the FLRB after the SEC asked for the creation of 11 separate bargaining units to represent the agency's employees across the country rather than the national one proposed by the NTEU. The agency has 60 days to decide whether it will appeal the ruling.

American Pad & Paper, which invented the legal pad in 1888 and is a leading maker of office paper products, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy papers after deciding to lay off 7 percent of its 4,000-employee work force to reduce costs. The Dallas-based company, with 1998 sales of $662 million, has closed four plants since it announced a restructuring in August.

T-bill rates fell. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday fell to 5.235 percent, from 5.360 percent last week. Rates on six-month bills fell to 5.420 percent from 5.585 percent. The actual return to investors is 5.392 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,867.70, and 5.665 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,726.00. 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 6.03 percent last week from 5.95 percent the previous week.

IBM announced that it will make the network computers it sells compatible with the Linux operating system, betting that the "open source" software--which is available free and can be modified by anyone--will be a key player in the future of commerce donducted on the Internet.

DuPont has agreed to license from Monsanto the active chemical ingredient in Monsanto's top-selling Roundup weed killer. The five-year agreement will allow DuPont to sell its own version of glyphosate, which is especially popular among U.S. soybean farmers. The terms of the agreement were not released.

Motorola and IBM are teaming up to deliver Internet access, navigation, e-mail and emergency assistance to drivers in their vehicles. The companies expect to work with automakers and parts companies to develop systems that work with 24-hour service centers using computers and equipment built by IBM.

Fruit of the Loom, the largest U.S. maker of underwear and T-shirts, named turnaround specialist Brian Wolfson as chairman to lead the company from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Wolfson, formerly chairman of the board's executive committee, replaces William Farley as chairman.

Gasoline prices at the pump fell more than half a cent per gallon in the past three weeks as crude oil prices dropped and Y2K panic failed to materialize, industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said. Prices nationwide fell 0.68 cents to a weighted average of $1.3344 per gallon on Friday, according to the Lundberg Survey of 10,000 stations.

RECALLS

Thousands of pounds of smoked seafood products were recalled because the fish may be contaminated with listeria, a bacteria that can cause life-threatening infections, the Food and Drug Administration announced. Royal Baltic of Brooklyn, N.Y., last month recalled several batches of smoked fish products sold in four states. Yesterday's announcement expands the recall to encompass what the FDA said was potentially thousands of pounds of Royal Baltic products sold nationwide. Consumers who have purchased any of the products should return them to the place of purchase for a refund. The products include: assorted plate packages of Siomga (salmon), Captain (sea bass) and Trout, lots 411 through 912; Smoked Captain (sea bass) in packages, lots 410 through 2211, and bulk pack, lot 1111; Smoked Royal Trout, lots 511 through 1211; Smoked Turbot in packages, lots 1611 through 2911, and bulk form, lot 1511; Imperial European-Style Smoked Salmon, lots 911 through 2211; Lake Trout in packages, lots 226 through 267, variety packs, lots 97 through 157, bulk form, lot 226, and bulk pack, lot 2710; and Smoked Siomga, lot 2710.

EARNINGS

MBNA, the world's third-biggest credit-card issuer, said fourth-quarter earnings rose 34 percent, to $320 million, as it added new customers through marketing agreements and acquisitions.

LOCAL BUSINESS

PSINet, one of the largest providers of Internet services for businesses, said its fourth-quarter spending accelerated to keep pace with strong demand. The Herndon-based company said it expects revenue of about $185 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31, up from $93.9 million a year earlier. PSINet also said it will take a fourth-quarter charge of $75 million to $90 million for its $720 million acquisition in November of Transaction Network Services, which provides electronic commerce services.

E-Trade Group's purchase of Arlington-based TeleBank, an Internet bank, has been approved by federal regulators, sources said. The $1.8 billion merger is expected to be completed by tomorrow. Approval had been stalled over regulators' concerns about a nonfinancial company owning a U.S. bank. Softbank, a Japanese Internet investor, owns about 25 percent of E-Trade.

CAPTION: Treasury Bills (This graphic was not available)