Nokia said it was able to transfer voice calls between a third-generation and second-generation mobile network, clearing a significant technological hurdle to the launch of the high-bandwidth 3G standard. The "3G" networks are expected to provide new capacity and deliver services such as faster Internet browsing from wireless devices. But operators are reluctant to launch 3G networks until they are confident subscribers won't be disconnected when they move into areas that are still covered only by 2G networks.
Sealed Air Settles Fraud Claims
Sealed Air, maker of Bubble Wrap, agreed to pay $732.8 million in stock and cash to settle asbestos and bankruptcy-fraud claims connected with its 1998 purchase of Cryovac, W.R. Grace's food-packaging unit. Earlier, Fresenius Medical Care agreed to pay $15 million to settle similar bankruptcy-fraud claims over the acquisition of another Grace unit. W.R. Grace creditors and asbestos-injury claimants have sought to prove that the Columbia-based chemical maker fraudulently transferred assets just before filing for Chapter 11 protection in 2001.
EchoStar offered to sell Cablevision Systems the rights to enough spectrum to reach the entire country with a new satellite television service in return for federal permission to buy Hughes Electronics. EchoStar said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission that it would also help Cablevision's new satellite TV company offer local channels and allow it to resell EchoStar's service. EchoStar is trying to complete its proposed $26 billion purchase of Hughes from General Motors.
Toyota said it will postpone for several months a decision on building an assembly plant in one of five U.S. locations. A decision had been expected by early December. Toyota may be delaying the decision to give two of the finalists, Arkansas and Texas, time to assemble incentive packages when their legislatures convene in January. Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama are also finalists for the $750 million plant.
Salomon Smith Barney, Citigroup's investment banking unit, will have no role in arranging the initial stock sale of National Financial Partners, a company run by Jessica Bibliowicz, daughter of Citigroup Chairman Sanford I. Weill. Citigroup is being investigation by regulators for possible conflicts of interest at Salomon. "Sandy and Jessica agreed together that it was more appropriate to use other bankers," Citigroup spokeswoman Leah Johnson said.
World Trade Organization negotiators in Geneva failed to resolve differences between the United States and developing countries over access to essential medicines but hoped to renew efforts in early December, trade officials said. The United States, which wants to protect the patents of its pharmaceutical industry, said it remained committed to supporting poor countries' access to drugs to fight epidemics but opposed extending an agreement to other health areas.
Hong Kong reported that an increase in exports in the third quarter helped its economy expand 2.5 percent, its fastest pace in more than two years. Exports from Hong Kong, a major trade portal for goods made in China, rose 13 percent in October alone.
Greenpeace said it blocked the oil tanker Byzantio, a ship similar to the one that sank near Spain this month, from leaving the Estonian port of Tallinn with 50,000 tons of oil. A spokeswoman said one of the group's workers in an inflatable raft was chained to each of the ship's four mooring lines. The Byzantio is chartered by the same company that contracted the vessel Prestige, which broke in two and sank off the northwest coast of Spain.
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers