France Telecom, Europe's second-biggest telephone company, said it will acquire all of the Global One telecommunications venture from partners Sprint and Deutsche Telekom for $4.36 billion in cash and debt.

General Motors is combining its North American car and truck engineering and manufacturing to get more new models into showrooms faster and to cut costs. The move will eliminate duplicate processes in those areas over the next 18 months. Other functions, including financial, human resources and planning, will be combined into one North American region next year. The only jobs lost will come through attrition, GM said.

Shares of Qualcomm, developer of the world's fastest-growing cellular phone standard, fell 16 percent after the company warned that its chip and cell-phone shipments may drop this quarter. Qualcomm shares dropped $24.12 1/2, to $129, in trading of more than 68 million shares, making it the most active U.S. stock.

The Energy Department will delay deliveries to its emergency oil reserve in hopes of easing the recent surge in fuel prices and will closely monitor heating oil markets, Secretary Bill Richardson said. The department will renegotiate contracts to postpone delivery on 5 million barrels of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Louisiana and Texas, Richardson said.

INTERNATIONAL

BCE, Canada's largest telecommunications company, will spin off 94 percent of its $54 billion stake in Nortel Networks, a move aimed at boosting BCE's share price. The Montreal-based owner of Canada's leading phone and wireless companies owns 39.2 percent of the 1.37 billion Nortel shares outstanding. It expects to complete the spinoff by the end of the second quarter. Nortel is North America's No. 2 phone-equipment maker after Lucent Technologies.

Cap Gemini, Europe's largest computer services company, said full-year profit rose 42 percent as gains from online business products and cost cutting offset slower growth in the United States. Net income after the amortization of goodwill rose last year to $266 million, or $3.63 per share, from $188 million, or $2.84 per share, in 1998. Sales rose 9 percent to $4.31 billion.

EARNINGS

Amgen shares fell 7.57 percent after the world's No. 1 biotechnology company said earnings growth would slow this year because it will boost spending to introduce new products next year. Shares of Amgen fell $5.25 to close at $64.12 1/2. When the company reported fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday, it said it expected earnings per share to increase by about 3 percent to 5 percent this year, after soaring 24 percent in 1999.

Avon Products reported a 4.3 percent decline in fourth-quarter earnings, to $141.7 million, caused in part by Brazil's falling currency and slow U.S. sales.

Shares of BMC Software, whose software speeds up corporate databases, fell as much as 10 percent after the company said fiscal third-quarter earnings dropped 37 percent because of slowing sales in North America. BMC closed down $4.31 1/4, at $39.37 1/2, in trading of 19.1 million shares. The shares have dropped 50 percent since the start of the year.

Bergen Brunswig, the third-largest U.S. drug wholesaler, said its first-quarter earnings fell 47 percent, to $14.7 million, and warned it will not meet estimates for 2000 because of continuing problems at recently acquired businesses.

Conoco reported that its fourth-quarter earnings quadrupled, to $324 million, because of higher oil and natural-gas prices.

DuPont said its fourth-quarter profit fell 15 percent as raw materials costs rose and its Pioneer agricultural unit lost money. After a charge related to the acquisition of Pioneer, the company lost more than $1 billion. DuPont said fourth-quarter profit from operations fell to $583 million, from $682 million in the year-earlier period.

Ford said fourth-quarter earnings rose 7.9 percent, to $1.81 billion, on higher sales of profitable sport-utility vehicles and luxury cars and smaller losses in Europe and South America. Full-year net income was $7.24 billion. Excluding gains and charges and the spinoff of Associates First Capital, last year's profit from operations was $6.12 billion.

Georgia-Pacific said its fourth-quarter earnings rose sixfold, to $175 million, on increasing prices of paper and some wood products.

Ingersoll-Rand, the maker of Bobcat construction equipment and Schlage locks, said fourth-quarter profit from operations rose 11 percent, to $141.2 million.

Louisiana-Pacific, citing increased prices for its paper and other wood products, said fourth-quarter profit from operations rose fivefold, to $32.2 million.

Merck said fourth-quarter profit rose 12 percent, to $1.57 billion, as new drugs such as the painkiller Vioxx helped boost sales for the No. 1 U.S. drugmaker.

Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing said fourth-quarter profit rose 28 percent, to $444 million, paced by overseas sales, which benefited from economic rebounds in Asia.

New Era of Networks, which makes software used to link incompatible computer systems, reported a fourth-quarter loss of $5.14 million due to acquisition costs, as revenue rose 41 percent.

Philip Morris said fourth-quarter profit from operations rose 2.7 percent, to $1.81 billion, boosted by higher cigarette prices.

Rohm & Haas shares rose 8.3 percent after the world's second-biggest maker of specialty chemicals reported that its fourth-quarter profit was higher than analysts expected. Shares in Rohm & Haas, which makes chemicals used in products ranging from paints to computer equipment, rose $3.31 1/4, to $43.31 1/4, on the New York Stock Exchange. The Philadelphia-based company said late Tuesday that fourth-quarter profit from operations rose 35 percent, to $101 million, as sales almost doubled.

Texaco said fourth-quarter earnings from operations quadrupled, to $370 million, as oil prices reached their highest levels since 1991. Including special items, such as asset write-downs and employee separation costs, earnings were $318 million, compared with a loss of $213 million a year earlier.

LOCAL BUSINESS

Aether Systems, a provider of wireless data services based in Owings Mills, Md., agreed to acquire Richmond-based LocusOne Communications for $40 million in cash. The deal is expected to close at the beginning of February. Closely held LocusOne provides wireless data systems to companies that distribute goods and services using their own delivery fleets. The technology helps customers such as Office Depot improve efficiencies through tracking, tracing and reporting of inventories that flow through their supply chains.

Markel, a Glen Allen, Va.-based insurer, plans to reduce by about 24 percent its payment for Terra Nova (Bermuda) Holdings after Terra Nova discovered it will post a loss for last year. Markel lowered to $13 a share from $14 the merger's cash portion, according to a news release it issued with Terra Nova. The overall tab for Terra Nova, which has 26 million shares and $175 million of debt, would be about $855 million.

Sylvan Learning Systems of Baltimore, which tutors students and trains teachers, agreed to sell its computerized-testing unit to publisher Thomson Corp. for $775 million and said fourth-quarter profit will be "significantly" below the 48-cent average estimate of analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial.