Business & Finance

In a proposal that would offer local channels via satellite television in every state - even Alaska and Hawaii - Hughes Electronics and EchoStar Communications filed an application with federal regulators to merge their Dish Network and DirecTV subsidiaries. Opponents contend that would create a satellite TV monopoly in some markets. EchoStar is based in Littleton, Colo.; Hughes in El Segundo, Calif.

Regulators rejected the $4.8 billiondeal under which US cable TV giant Liberty Media was to acquire six regional networks in Germany. In Berlin, the Cartel Office said the purchase from Deutsche Telekom, which was announced last June, would have made Liberty a virtual monopoly, enabling it to fix prices and force out competitors. Liberty Media, a spinoff of AT&T, is based in Englewood, Colo.

Two weeks after pledging not to, Williams Communications Group warned it may file for bankruptcy after all, with job cuts likely. Williams has $5.2 billion in debt and reported a fourth quarter loss of $372 million. The chairman of the company, which provides high-speed network services, said the recent failures of others in the telecommunications industry, such as Global Crossing, has hindered efforts to restructure its debt. The company was spun off last year by Williams Companies Inc., a Tulsa, Okla., oil, gas, pipeline, and energy-trading conglomerate.

In a new cost-cutting move, American Express signed a seven-year, $4 billion accord with IBM, the Financial Times reported. It calls for 2,000 Amex workers to transfer to jobs at IBM, which will take over technology support for the financial services giant, host its website, and run processing for Amex transactions, the newspaper said.

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