No Action Against Snow

The Treasury Department inspector general has closed its investigation into whether Treasury Secretary John W. Snow had a conflict of interest when he owned millions of dollars of bonds issued by government-sponsored finance companies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while he was the Bush administration's lead spokesman on policy toward the companies.

The Justice Department's civil and criminal divisions decided not to take any action over the investments, which the Treasury Department disclosed in May 2004, according to a memo released by the inspector general under the Freedom of Information Act. The investigation found no evidence that Snow knew his money was invested in the companies' securities, the memo said.


Alltel to Spin Off Phone Division

Alltel said a $4.9 billion deal to spin off its telephone division to shareholders will enable it to expand its core wireless business. The new company will be combined with Valor Communications Group of Irving, Tex. The deal's total value will be $9.1 billion, including $4.2 billion in assumed Alltel debt, based on Valor's closing stock price on Thursday. Chief executive Scott Ford said the spinoff was not designed to make Little Rock-based Alltel an attractive acquisition.


Capital One Changes Voting Rule

Capital One Financial revised its corporate governance rules so directors must receive a majority of shareholder votes cast when running uncontested. Under the new policy, a nominee who receives less than a majority will be required to tender his or her resignation to the McLean-based financial service company's board, which would then decide whether to accept it and on what terms.


Republican Leaves FCC

Republican Kathleen Q. Abernathy left the Federal Communications Commission, giving Democrats a temporary 2 to 1 majority. Abernathy had been a commissioner for 41/2 years. Her term expired last year, but under federal rules, she could stay until this month.

President Bush has nominated Republican Deborah T. Tate from Tennessee to fill one empty seat at the commission -- the one created by the March departure of Chairman Michael K. Powell. No one has been nominated for the seat Abernathy vacated.


Delta Unfazed by Strike Vote

Delta Air Lines said the decision by its pilots' union to ask rank-and-file members to authorize a strike does not change the company's position on its need for $325 million in concessions, nor its willingness to negotiate a deal. Delta lawyers have said that the airline believes it could impose new terms on its pilots starting Dec. 16, even if a bankruptcy judge doesn't rule on its contract rejection request by then. A spokesman said the airline would consider extending the deadline "if we felt a consensual agreement could be reached."


4 Get Prison for Fixing Prices

Four former Irving Materials executives were sentenced to prison for a price-fixing scheme that resulted in the largest domestic antitrust fine in U.S. history. Former company president Fred "Pete" Irving, his son Price Irving, Daniel C. Butler and John Huggins were each sentenced to five months in prison and five months probation. All pleased guilty.

From January 2000 to May 2004, Irving executives met with their competitors to set the prices charged to homeowners, building contractors and the government for ready-mix concrete in the Indianapolis metropolitan area, according to court documents.


Ford to Meet With Gay Advocates

Ford Motor will meet on Monday with representatives of the Human Rights Campaign and other gay advocacy groups that launched an e-mail protest campaign after Ford decided to stop advertising Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles in gay-oriented magazines.

The groups are concerned that Ford stopped the ads in response to pressure from the American Family Association, a conservative religious group.


Trading Error Draws Official Ire

The Japanese government rebuked the Tokyo Stock Exchange and one of the country's biggest brokerages after a typing error caused Mizuho Securities to lose at least $225 million on a stock trade.

A trader at Mizuho Securities tried to sell 610,000 shares of job-recruiting firm J-Com for 1 yen (less than a penny) each. It had actually intended to sell 1 share at 610,000 yen ($5,041).

The number of shares in Mizuho's order was more than 40 times the number of J-Com's outstanding shares, but the Tokyo Stock Exchange processed the order anyway.


A Softer Stand on Subsidies

France is ready to accept the European Union's offer to cut farm tariffs and subsidies, Trade Minister Christine Lagarde said.

Lagarde and other French officials had said the Oct. 28 offer by E.U. Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson overstepped his negotiating mandate when he offered to make the cuts.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.