The Federal Communications Commission took the first step yesterday in
determining whether cable companies offering superfast Web connections must
allow competing Internet providers on their systems. The effort to develop a
framework for regulating new Internet services comes amid the FCC's review of
the proposed merger between America Online and Time Warner Inc. That deal,
bringing together the nation's top Internet provider and second-largest cable
system, would create a powerhouse in offering high-speed cable connections. FCC
officials insisted that the merger review is independent from the agency's
efforts to craft a broader policy on the issue of cable access. Yet the
commission reportedly is considering requiring as a condition of merger approval
that the companies permit Internet providers other than AOL on their cable
systems. European antitrust officials, meanwhile, are prepared to approve the
AOL-Time Warner merger if the companies call off a separate deal to bring
British music powerhouse EMI Group PLC into their fold, according to sources
familiar with the discussions. The European Union's merger task force wants to
block the $20 billion merger of Time Warner with EMI, fearing a combination of
two of the world's five biggest music companies.
Associated Press, Washington Post
Execs indicted in $9 billion fraud
Two former top executives of a Georgia medical
software company were indicted yesterday, accused of costing investors more than
$9 billion in one of the largest financial frauds in American history. As
co-presidents of HBO & Co. for most of 1998, Albert J. Bergonzi and Jay P.
Gilbertson used sham deals and bad accounting to inflate the company's revenue
and earnings by hundreds of millions of dollars, according to federal
prosecutors in San Francisco, who announced the indictments. If convicted, the
two men each face up to 10 years in jail and a $1 million fine. Lawyers for
Bergonzi and Gilbertson denied the criminal charges, as well as a related civil
complaint filed by the SEC. The indictment comes as the Securities and Exchange
Commission steps up efforts to work more closely with federal prosecutors in
cases of serious financial wrongdoing.
- New York
WebMD to cut 1,100 jobs
finally completed a series of mergers that swelled its employee ranks from 146
to around 6,000 in 18 months, WebMD now plans to eliminate around 1,100
positions, the company said yesterday. WebMD said it anticipates total
annualized savings of $250 million by the fourth quarter of 2001 from the cuts.
But the company said it also expects to take a restructuring charge of $35
million to $45 million in the quarter that will end tomorrow.
- New York Times
Nuclear power companies press
Nuclear power companies called on the U.S.
Energy Department to fulfill obligations to store nuclear waste and said
inaction could cost the department $5 billion in legal settlements with 12
utilities. "The federal government not only owes us action, it owes us money,"
said John Rowe, president and chief executive of Unicom Corp., the owner of
Chicago's electric utility. "We must do everything we can to expedite the
opening" of the Yucca Mountain site planned in Nevada, Rowe
told the Senate Energy Committee. Department officials say they haven't been
able to accept any of the nuclear waste because of congressional funding
cuts. They are asking the Senate to reconsider a $351 million
appropriations bill for 2001, saying they'll need more than $400 million
to keep the waste-storage facility on schedule.
Lenders praise results of global summit
Raging street riots strained the new spirit of
cooperation, but the world's top capitalists insisted yesterday that their
annual money summit built commitment to boosting the livelihoods of the world's
poor. "We are trying to do a job that makes things better," said World Bank
President James Wolfensohn. The World Bank and its sister lending agency, the
International Monetary Fund, wrapped up official business Wednesday, one
day ahead of schedule, amid victory cheers from protesters who claimed that they
had derailed the meetings. The finance leaders said they finished all their
business early and disputed suggestions that they had wrapped up because of the
protests. Police estimate nearly 12,000 anti-globalization demonstrators clogged
the streets Tuesday to chant, "Smash the IMF!"