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Those of you who spent all weekend gearing up for the Super Bowl missed out on an exciting round in the battle for control of Internet access in Europe.

(It was exciting to us, at least.)


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campaign to win over the hearts of



shareholders escalated another notch, as the British-U.S. phone operator announced a joint venture with France's




The two plan to create a European Web portal that would rival




AOL Europe

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, a joint venture between

America Online




. They will also look at joining together to form a pan-European telephone network.

But the alliance is contingent upon Vodafone winning control of Mannesmann, Germany's leading wireless company, which has repeatedly spurned Vodafone's advances.

Mannesmann brass remained opposed to Vodafone's $170 billion hostile takeover bid Sunday; investors have until Feb. 7 to decide.

British generator



, which has been looking for a U.S. acquisition for some time, is reportedly eyeing two companies. The

Sunday Times

of London reports that the company is looking at a bid for Kentucky's

LG&E Energy


worth as much as $2.7 billion. Meanwhile, the

Sunday Business

reports that PowerGen may be preparing a $1.6 billion bid for the distribution business of

Midlands Electricity

, which is owned by




In Germany,

Nortel Networks


was selected as the solutions integrator for the launch of


, an application service provider. The two partners estimate that the deal will be worth $200 million during the next three years.

Separately, Nortel wrapped up its acquisition of


this weekend, a deal worth $3.25 billion in stock.

British Sky Broadcasting

is prepared to spend a quarter of a billion pounds, or nearly $406 million, on Internet investment, the London's


newspaper reported Sunday. The move follows last week's announcement by U.K. media giant


that it will invest the same amount of money in the Net.

Back home,

Harold Greene

, the federal judge who oversaw the government's antitrust case that led to the dismantling of


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, died Saturday. He was 76.


Kenya Airways

plane carrying 169 people plunged into the sea after taking off from the Ivory Coast capital of Abidjan late Sunday,


reports. The aircraft, an Airbus A310, was heading to Nigeria. On Friday, Kenya Airways announced a $750 million plan to replace its Airbus fleet with Boeing B767-300 aircraft.

And in Japan, stocks fell in early Monday trading. The


average was down 39.70 points to 19,395.08, a loss of 0.2%, by the close of the morning session. Earlier, however, the Nikkei had dipped to 19,224.47.

In the Papers

The Internet may have incited a price war among insurance companies, but their policy premiums are not the only prices that have dipped in the past year. One analyst tells


that Swiss insurer

Zurich Financial Services

looks attractive because it has become heavily discounted. ZFS is jointly owned by

Zurich Allied


of Switzerland and

Allied Zurich


of the U.K.

The Sunday

New York Times

features an interview with


chief exec Thomas Middelhoff, who left AOL's board following its merger with

Time Warner


. Middelhoff would not comment on speculation that Bertelsmann would sell its stake in AOL Europe, but he did say that the company needs to make more acquisitions, namely in magazine publishing and music.

Predictions of the demise of major record labels have been greatly exaggerated, the

Washington Post

reports. The majors still have their marketing muscle, which is continuing to attract many up-and-coming bands despite the distribution advantages offered by the Internet.

David Rheingold is a New York-based freelance writer. At the time of publication he had no positions in any of the securities mentioned, although holdings can change at any time.