Federal Communications Commission
gave its final OK to the merger of
wireless businesses. According to the FCC, the joint venture will operate under Bell Atlantic's
Separately, the FCC also gave the thumbs up to the
. VoiceStream has already closed its purchase of
and said the three merged companies would provide service to more than 200 million customers.
A consortium led by
said it's acquiring a 39% voting stake in
, which provides telephone service over the Internet. Under terms of the deal, the consortium will purchase four million newly issued Class A shares from Net2Phone at $75 a share, or $300 million. The consortium will also purchase 14.9 million shares from
, Net2Phone's controlling shareholder, for $75 a share, or $1.1 billion.
said that it was in talks with AT&T regarding the interest in Net2Phone.
Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
said that it is considering the sale of its
division and would assume a noncash post-tax charge of roughly $350 million in 1999. The insurance company attributed the charge to writing off the carrying interest-only securities at the division. Conseco said the charge would dent its initial 1999 earnings report. Chairman and CEO Stephen Hilbert said that the company failed to produce the level of shareholder value that it should from its purchase of Conseco Finance.
Dutch supermarket chain
said its U.S.-based
division acquired the
convenience stores. According to Ahold, Sugar Creek reports annual sales of about $142 million.
Wesley Jessen VisionCare
said it turned down
Bausch & Lomb's
$34-a-share bid for the company, citing its dedication to its proposed $562 million stock deal with
. Wesley Jessen said Bausch & Lomb's offer doesn't top Ocular's bid, which according to Wesley, would create about $30 million in cost savings.
Earnings/revenue reports and previews
New Era of Networks
expects earnings for the first quarter "to be somewhat better than expectations" and revenues of between $40 million and $41 million. The software company plans to release earnings on April 20. The six-analyst estimate calls for the company to earn 2 cents a share in the quarter.
said it would assume a first-quarter pretax restructuring charge of $3 million and would take on another $8 million charge for ending its pact with
is cutting 5200 jobs and expects to take a $625 million pretax charge in the first-quarter. The copier maker said the restructuring will put earnings growth in the mid-to-high teens for 2001.
Offerings and stock actions
priced a 5 million-share IPO for
above its expected price range of $15-$17 at $34 a share.
, according to a
Securities and Exchange Commission
filing, disclosed that its bricks-and-mortar auction unit,
Butterfield & Butterfield
, received a grand jury subpoena from the
antitrust division. The subpoena "request
s documents relating to, among other things, changes in B&B's seller's commissions and buyer's premiums and discussions, agreements or understandings with other auction houses, in each case since 1992." eBay said it thinks the request may be related to the reported government probe of auction houses for price fixing.
is selling its 24% stake in
, a Dutch semiconductor equipment maker.
The Heard on the Street column in
The Wall Street Journal
said there might be trouble ahead for some of the stocks that hedge fund legend Julian Robertson's
owns, but that can't be sold out of his funds yet. Robertson said
yesterday that Tiger's hedge funds will be shut down. The
pointed out that Robertson, via Tiger, will still hold four U.S. stocks in which it has huge holdings and a sizable portion of the companies' outstanding shares:
United Asset Management
columnist Holly Hegeman took a look at the US Airways situation in a column
The Inside Wall Street column in
, written by Gene Marcial, tees up a positive profile of disk-drive maker
, which used to be a highflier but fell out of favor when the disk-drive business went into a downdraft a couple years ago. The item cites Dane Lewis, an analyst at
, as saying Western has an unappreciated gem in its network storage operation, which Lewis estimates is worth $500 million to $1 billion.
The column also offers up bullish items on
Leap Wireless International
. The column quoted Brian Zimmerman, a money manager at
, which has been accumulating shares of Leap, as saying that "Leap is the most inexpensive wireless company around."
For analysis of the market's preopen tone and trends, see the Wake-Up Call, published separately.