News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols, and Stephanie Cook

A bidding war in the $53 billion range has erupted for VoiceStream Wireless Corp. between two European telecommunications giants, reports said - with indications that it may be joined by a Japanese rival. The interactive edition of The Wall Street Journal said a bid for the Bellevue, Wash.-based company is "on the table" from Deutsche Telekom, which openly has been seeking a foothold in the US mobile phone market. USA Today reported a similar offer from France Telecom. Meanwhile, DoCoMo, the cellular phone unit of Japan's Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., which has been pursuing a 10 percent to 20 percent stake in VoiceStream since late May, now is said to be upping its interest to at least 49 percent.

To promote competition and take a new step toward a market economy, local banks in China will be allowed to set their own interest rates on loans and savings deposits within three years, The New York Times reported. But the move, announced by central bank chief Dai Xianglong, does not mean that there is a timetable yet for making the yuan, China's currency, convertible into other currencies or to allow foreign investors to buy stock in Chinese companies. Currently, there is virtually no competition among local banks because all are state-owned and governed by interest rates set by the central bank. Dai also said the local banks eventually could be transformed into publicly held corporations.

The long-expected sale of insurance giant Aetna's financial services and international divisions to Dutch suitor ING has been finalized, the latter announced in Amsterdam. The deal was valued at $5 billion, plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt. ING first tried to buy all of Aetna, but narrowed its efforts to the above units early last month.

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(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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