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France Telecom May Buy Out Its Global One Partners

The deal could be worth more than $10 billion. Also, Ford and the UAW reach an agreement about Visteon, a parts unit of the company.

How do you cap a week during which the biggest-ever telecommunications merger was announced?

With the biggest telecommunications trade conference in the world. An estimated 200,000 people converged on Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday for

Telecom 99


Amid the din of deals and expansions,

France Telecom


said it was willing to buy out its two partners in

Global One

, a U.S.-French-German telecommunications alliance that has been plagued by infighting. Fred Rucker, a member of Global One's executive board, told


he estimated the venture was worth well more than $10 billion.

The other two partners are Germany's

Deutsche Telekom

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and the U.S.'



, the recipient of the record $115 billion bid from

MCI WorldCom


last week.

Deutsche Telekom also plans to sell its 10% stake in Sprint.



has acquired a 15% stake in


, a privately held company in La Jolla, Calif., that makes smart phones. Siemens is aiming to triple its mobile phone sales by 2001. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Redback Networks


wants to ease

traffic congestion in Europe -- online traffic, that is. The company said Sunday it is opening offices in Europe, where cable TV companies, Internet firms and telecommunications carriers are trying to meet a surging demand for the Internet.


World Access


is looking to increase its own access to European consumers. The company is eyeing the purchase of half a dozen telecommunications companies there, Walter Burmeister, president of the privately held

FaciliCom International

, told


. FaciliCom is now merging with World Access.

Global Crossing


, a U.S. network operator, said Sunday it will soon announce acquisitions in Europe or Asia. The company recently bought



Rupert Murdoch

is in talks to buy a 25% stake in Germany's digital television company


, the U.K.'s


newspaper reported Sunday. Murdoch's

News Corp

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is looking to expand its presence in Europe.

Software maker

Real Time Synthesized Entertainment Technology

may soon make its debut on the

Frankfurt Stock Exchange

. The company is a subsidiary of Israel's

BVR Technologies


, which announced Sunday the hiring of two European underwriters for the deal.

J. Sainsbury

, the British supermarket giant, is shopping for a partner. In the face of mounting competition, the company is looking for potential buyers in the U.S. and Europe, the

Sunday Times

in London reported. Its rivals include




, the latter of which was earlier this year taken over by


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Back home,


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and the

United Auto Workers

reached a tentative agreement after a marathon contract negotiation session that lasted nearly 30 hours. Details were not disclosed, but sources told


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the union agreed to let Ford spin off its


parts unit as long as the unit's workers are still considered Ford employees.

Think polo playing in an orchard.



, which makes

Fruit of the Loom



and other brands of apparel, said Sunday it was launching a $525 million bid to buy swimwear company

Authentic Fitness

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, whose brands include

Polo Ralph Lauren


In Canada, just over 94% of the

Canadian Auto Workers




three-year contract proposal, the union announced Sunday.

In the Papers

Deutsche Telekom is in talks with

SBC Communications


, unnamed sources told German weekly newspaper

Welt am Sonntag

. The sources did not reveal the focus of the discussions. Speculation about some sort of Deutsche Telekom acquisition is rampant, especially with the money it stands to gain from selling its stakes in Global One and Sprint.

Virgin Atlantic


denied a report in the

Sunday Times

that the airline was planning cutbacks. A company spokesman told


that, within the next year, Virgin Atlantic actually plans to add routes from London to Chicago, Cape Town, Las Vegas and Nigeria.

After selling the idea of a merger to the customers of banking giants



Wells Fargo

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, CEO Richard Kovacevich is now trying to sell them on a myriad of financial services. He told


that cross-selling is the key to Wells Fargo's growth. The company is looking at buying small Midwest banks, but would not comment on speculation that targets may include


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Commercial Federal

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is trying to keep shareholders as other companies invade its turf. Exodus, which operates server farms, has seen its losses drop 41% this year, but CEO Ellen Hancock told


she predicts a turnaround within the next two years.


also features an interview with Anthony Weber, who manages the


Alleghany/Veredus Aggressive Growth Fund. His stock picks include

Optical Coating Lab



Varian Semiconductor



Terayon Communications










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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.