Business & Finance


Ernst & Young, the accounting giant, denied allegations by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it violated conflict-of-interest rules by marketing software along with a company it also audited. Ernst & Young said its late-1990s arrangement with PeopleSoft Inc. was "entirely appropriate and permissible." The SEC Monday ordered a hearing within 60 days to determine whether sanctions are warranted.

Teamsters union members approved a strike if contract negotiations with United Parcel Service (UPS) fail. The current five-year agreement, reached after a devastating 1997 walkout, expires July 31. A spokesman for Atlanta-based UPS, the world leader in package deliveries, called the strike vote "routine" and said negotiations "have maintained a good pace."

Retail banks in the western US will be prime targets for BNP Paribas, which announced it has set aside $8.3 billion for further acquisitions, the Financial Times reported. The money will be spent over the next three years. The Paris-based financial institution, France's largest, paid $2.4 billion in December for United California Bank and $2.5 billion last May for the shares it did not already own in BancWest. The latter's headquarters are in Honolulu.

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Adelphia Communications Corp. is in discussions with its founding family on an asset transfer of $2 billion to help restore liquidity and investor confidence, The Wall Street Journal reported. Coudersport, Pa.-based Adelphia, the US's sixth-largest cable TV operator, is facing possible bankruptcy and federal inquiries over the disclosure of $2.3 billion in loans to members of John Rigas's family last year.

Regulators were expected to take a hard look at a $1.7 billion deal that would give E.ON, the giant German energy supplier, just under a 20 percent stake in Ruhrgas AG, the nation's largest natural gas company. In exchange, Ruhrgas's parent, RAG Aktiengesellschaft, would assume half-ownership of E.ON's chemical subsidiary, Degussa.

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