News In Brief

Chevron and Phillips were refusing to comment on a published report that they are close to concluding a merger worth an estimated $78 billion. The Sunday Times of London cited executives of both companies as saying they'd decide whether to follow through on a deal by the end of the year. Speculation about a takeover has surrounded Chevron, the US's No. 2 oil company, since it failed in its bid to acquire Texaco last year.

Hewlett-Packard acknowledged it is negotiating to buy the consulting branch of accounting giant Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The cash-and-stock deal, valued at up to $18 billion, would help the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computermaker honor a July deal with Cisco Systems to service the latter's customers and sell its products. In February, Pricewaterhouse opted to separate its consulting business to avoid regulatory problems.

Computer hackers infiltrated the Web site of Western Union, the company said, making electric copies of credit- and debit-card information of 15,700 customers who had used it to transfer money. The site was left unprotected, a spokesman said, while undergoing routine maintenance. The Englewood, Colo.-based money transfer service notified customers and their credit-card companies, and said it is monitoring accounts, though no cases of fraud had been reported. Western Union established its Internet-based service in June, but planned an official launch of the site later this month.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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