PHARMACEUTICALS

Drugmaker Serono Might Be For Sale

Serono's market value increased to $10.8 billion on speculation that the company would entertain acquisition offers. Serono said it hired Goldman Sachs to explore "alternatives" and declined to be more specific. Geneva-based Serono's multiple sclerosis drug Rebif generated $316 million in revenue in the third quarter, and the company predicted that the medication will be the worldwide market leader next year.

Chief executive Ernesto Bertarelli is organizing a defense of his 2003 victory in the America's Cup yacht race.

HOTELS

Icahn Presses Fairmont on Share Price

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, owner of luxury hotels including the Savoy in London, agreed to meet with investor Carl C. Icahn to discuss how to increase Fairmont's stock price, including share buybacks and divesting properties.

Icahn said he owned a 9.3 percent stake in the company and would encourage it to take steps to increase the value of the shares.

EUROPE

Hungary's Rising Deficit Is Criticized

Hungary's failure to cut its budget deficit is hurting neighboring economies, said Joaquin Almunia, the European Union's economic commissioner. "They are having not only negative consequences in their own economy. In the last period, there have also been some negative spillover effects on the other countries in the area that are of serious concern," he said.

E.U. finance ministers criticized Hungary for failing to cut its budget deficit below the 3 percent limit set by the E.U. Hungary plans to cut taxes next year without corresponding cuts in spending.

REGULATORS

France Telecom Fined $94 Million

France Telecom, Europe's second-biggest phone company, was fined $94 million by the French competition authority for failing to open up the market for broadband Internet access from 1999 to 2002.

The penalty is double a fine imposed by a Paris appeals court in January. The court had already doubled the amount after France Telecom objected to a fine the antitrust authority imposed in May 2004.

France Telecom said it would appeal the decision, which is the result of a complaint by Neuf Telecom in November 1999.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.