mergers & acquisitions

News Corp. Agrees to Buy IGN

News Corp. made its latest acquisition in the Internet sector as its newly formed online unit, Fox Interactive Media, agreed to pay $650 million in cash for online video-game company IGN Entertainment. IGN is a network of online video games and game-related Web sites as well as two movie sites and a male lifestyle site. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter, subject to regulatory approvals.

EBay May Have an Eye on Skype

EBay reportedly is in talks to buy Skype Technologies, a voice-over-Internet provider that charges for calls from computers to mobile phones or traditional fixed lines, for $2 billion to $3 billion. Luxembourg-based Skype, which has more than 50 million subscribers, was developed by the same programmers who produced the Kazaa music and video file-sharing service. EBay chief executive Margaret C. Whitman has been expanding services and buying companies to continue the Internet auction company's rapid growth.

COMPUTERS

Dell to Slow Pace of Expansion

Dell will reduce the pace of opening new call centers and other investments as sales growth declines, Chief Financial Officer James Schneider said. The company, which said on Aug. 12 that revenue this quarter may miss analysts' estimates, has been spending more in recent quarters to "catch up" to rivals, Schneider said at a Citigroup technology conference in New York that was broadcast on the Internet. Dell opened seven call centers in the past year for a total of 30 and is building a $115 million factory in North Carolina, spokesman Jess Blackburn said. Operating expenses are rising faster than sales, a reversal of Dell's usual trend, Schneider said.

National Semiconductor, whose chips boost the battery life in mobile phones, said first-quarter profit fell 27 percent, to $85.6 million from $117.7 million in the comparable quarter a year earlier, on restructuring charges. Sales dropped 9.9 percent, to $493.8 million, in the quarter ended Aug. 28.

Netflix forecast a $50 million pretax profit in 2006 as the number of subscribers hits 5 million a year earlier than planned, chief executive Reed Hastings said. The online video rental service also set a new goal of 20 million subscribers in five to seven years.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.