Stocks to Watch: Citigroup's Reed Retiring; Qualcomm, Microsoft in Venture

Ericsson, Volvo and Telia form a joint firm to deliver mobile Web services to the auto industry.
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Citigroup (C) - Get Report co-Chairman and co-CEO John Reed will retire April 18, at the financial giant's annual meeting, the company said. The other co-chief, Sandy Weill, will be sole chairman and CEO after Reed's retirement.

Wireless was the word this morning as a number of companies rolled out news of joint venture agreements.

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

said they formed a wireless multimedia device pact.

Separately Microsoft and

Software AG

said they would team up to link the Windows operating system to non-Windows systems.

Ericsson

(ERICY)

,

Volvo

(VOLVY)

and telecom operator

Telia

said they are forming a joint firm, called WirelessCar, to deliver mobile Web services to the automotive industry.

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

and

America Online

(AOL)

said AOL's

Instant Messenger

will be offered on Nokia mobile phones.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Online auctioneering giant

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

could make a $1.6 billion bid to acquire

Sotheby's

(BID) - Get Report

, London's

Independent on Sunday

reported. Citing unnamed industry sources, the newspaper reported that five-year-old eBay was said to be interested in buying 256-year-old Sotheby's. The

Justice Department

has been investigating price-fixing allegations involving Sotheby's and rival

Christie's

. Also, the two auction houses face dozens of civil lawsuits accusing them of collusion. Last week, two key execs at Sotheby's resigned.

NiSource

(NI) - Get Report

is buying

Columbia Energy

(CG) - Get Report

for $6 billion. NiSource will also assume $2.5 billion in Columbia debt. Upon completion of the deal, Columbia and NiSource will become wholly-owned divisions of a new holding company. Under terms of the deal, Columbia shareholders may receive $70 a share in cash for each share of Columbia they own, plus $2.60 in a zero coupon debt security with a forward equity contract, called SAILS. Columbia shareholders also have the option to receive, in lieu of cash and SAILS, new holding company stock for up to 30% of outstanding Columbia shares.

Under the common stock option, each Columbia share will be exchanged for $74 a share in new holding company stock, subject to a collar. If the average NiSource share price during the 30 days preceding the closing of the deal is greater than $16.50, Columbia shareholders will receive shares of new holding company stock valued at $74 for each Columbia share; if the average NiSource share price during the 30 days prior to closing of the transaction is $16.50 or below, Columbia shareholders will receive 4.4848 shares of new holding company stock for each Columbia share. Columbia closed Friday at 57 11/16, while NiSource closed at 15 9/16.

NetIQ

(NTIQ)

and

Mission Critical

(MCSW)

said they will merge in a stock swap. Mission Critical shareholders will get 0.9413 shares of NetIQ per share.

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

said it will announce a "second major industry exchange" at 11 a.m. EST. Last week,

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

,

Ford

(F) - Get Report

and

DaimlerChrysler

(DCX)

said they planned to combine their online buying efforts for suppliers in a single Net portal. Ford and GM said as part of their combining, Ford would swap half of its stake in

Oracle's

(ORCL) - Get Report

Oracle Exchange

unit for half of GM's stake in

Commerce One

(CMRC)

.

Britain's

PowerGen

(PWG)

agreed to acquire Kentucky-based LG&E

Energy

(LGE)

for $3.2 billion. PowerGen is offering $24.85 a share and expects the deal to be complete by early 2001.

Quintus

(QNTS)

is acquiring

Mustang.com

(MSTG)

in a stock swap valued at $290 million.

3Com

(COMS)

and

Samsung

said they will offer high-speed wireless networks.

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

(

Earnings estimates from First Call/Thomson Financial; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified.

)

DaimlerChrysler

(DCX)

posted fourth-quarter operating profit of $2.4 billion. Adjusted for one-time effects, operating profit was $2.7 billion. Fourth-quarter net income came in at $1.1 billion and on an adjusted basis $1.6 billion. Fourth-quarter revenues totaled $41.7 billion.

Offerings and stock actions

Clorox

(CLX) - Get Report

said it will repurchase up to 2 million shares during the fiscal year ended June.

EchoStar Communications

(DISH) - Get Report

approved a 2-for-1 stock split.

Analyst Actions

SG Cowen

cut

Conexant

(CNXT) - Get Report

to buy from strong buy.

J.P. Morgan

started coverage of

Maxim Pharmaceuticals

(MMP) - Get Report

at buy.

Miscellany

Compaq

(CPQ)

said it cut prices on DeskPro PCs by up to 16%.

Excite@Home

(ATHM) - Get Report

and

Dow Jones

(DJ)

named Don Hutchinson as CEO of

Work.com

.

Journal Register

(JRC)

is selling its Illinois, Missouri and Ohio newspaper assets.

Midwest Express Airlines'

pilots ratified a five-year contract with the airline, which is based in Milwaukee. The airline is a unit of

Midwest Express Holdings

(MEH)

.

The

Securities and Exchange Commission

has notified 52 companies audited by

PriceWaterhouseCoopers

that conflicts of interest involving firm employees' personal investments in the companies could affect the integrity of their financial statements

The Wall Street Journal

reported, citing people at the auditing firm. The list of companies notified included

Lucent Technologies

(LU)

and Compaq. Compaq announced last week it was switching auditors.

The Heard on the Street column in the

Journal

says a top rule-making panel at the

Financial Accounting Standards Board

is considering whether the rules should be changed to restrict Internet businesses from including the entire value of product sales or services they arrange between suppliers and buyers online in their revenue figures. For many dot-com companies, such revenue is an important part of their financial health at a time when they have no profits to show, according to the story.

For analysis of the market's preopen tone and trends, see the Wake-Up Call, now published separately.