NiSource Hikes Its Bid for Columbia Energy - TheStreet

NiSource Hikes Its Bid for Columbia Energy

Also, wireless instant messaging is on the horizon, and analysts see Fortune Brands shares headed for a rebound.
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Those of you glued to the baseball playoffs all weekend may have missed the news of a utility bid, a wireless startup and a few Asian Internet ventures. Take your pick, but we think we had a more exciting time.

Of course, as this goes to press, we have no idea how the

Mets

or the

Yankees

actually fared, so please excuse us while we catch up on the weekend's sporting news. Here's what happened back in the business world.

Utility holding company

NiSource

(NI) - Get Report

is raising the stakes in its attempted hostile takeover of

Columbia Energy Group

(CG) - Get Report

. On Sunday, NiSource offered an all-cash bid of $6.1 billion, a 7% increase over its earlier offer, rejected by Columbia. If shareholders approve the deal, Indiana-based NiSource would become the largest distributor of natural gas east of the Rocky Mountains.

Instant messaging, one of the Internet's hottest features, could soon be coming to a cell phone or pager near you.

OpenGrid

, a startup based in Santa Clara, Calif., has received more than $8 million in funding to bring the technology to wireless devices,

Reuters

reports. Investors include

Motorola

(MOT)

and software entrepreneur

Philippe Kahn

.

In Japan,

Nissan

(NSANY)

will shut down assembly lines at its four main auto plants Monday, Japanese news media reported. The move is part of an internal overhaul.

Sanwa Bank

in Japan is signing onto an Internet investment firm.

Kyodo News

reported Sunday that the bank plans to buy a 10% stake in

Wit Capital Japan

, a joint venture between U.S. online investment firm

Wit Capital Group

(WITC)

and automaker

Mitsubishi

.

Meanwhile, Australia's

Brierley Investments

announced Sunday it had joined with Seattle's

Madrona Investment Group

to explore Internet investments in Asia.

In the Papers

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts'

next target could be in the ATM industry. The

Sunday Telegraph

in London reports the New York-based leveraged buyout group is on the verge of buying

Siemens'

Nixdorf

retail and banking systems division. The deal would be worth 460 million pounds, or $767 million.

Massive conglomerates that offer many different product lines might seem outdated, but

Barron's

reports that beleaguered

Fortune Brands

(FO)

could be poised for a stock-price rebound. Analysts call the Connecticut-based company undervalued, citing its popular products that include Titleist golf balls, Moen faucets and Jim Beam bourbon.

Harman International Industries

(HAR)

is taking the focus off the price of its products -- hi-fi audio and video equipment -- to concentrate on improving its stock price. After three years of stagnant earnings, the company is streamlining its product lines and changing its distribution tactics.

Forget the

Dow's

performance last week for a moment. In an interview with

Barron's

, Tom Galvin, chief investment officer at brokerage

Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette

(DLJ)

, predicts the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

will reach 13,000 by the end of 2000. He believes excess global capacity, the euro and the deflationary impact of the Internet will keep inflation in check. Galvin sees growth potential in technology, financial and advertising stocks.

Another promoter of the euro is Nick Scheele, who heads

Ford's

(F) - Get Report

European operations. He told the

Sunday Business

newspaper in London that the U.K. should adopt the currency.

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.

As originally published this story contained an error. Please see

Corrections and Clarifications.