Business & Finance

Debt-laden Sprint Corp. agreed to sell its phone directory business to marketing specialist R.H. Donnelley Corp. of Purchase, N.Y., for $2.23 billion.The Sprint Publishing & Advertising subsidiary issues more than 260 white- and yellow-page editions in 18 states and is the US's sixth-largest such publisher. The sale is the latest in a string of similar deals. Qwest Communications, McLeodUSA, and Canada's BCE Inc. also sold their directory units this year for much-needed cash.

Dole Food Co. directors are mulling a $2.5 billion unsolicited offer from chief executive David Murdock for the 76 percent of the company he and his family don't already own. The offer of $29.50 per share is above Friday's $24.49 closing price on the New York Stock Exchange. Dole, of Westlake Village, Calif., is the world's leading producer of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

Peregrine Systems, a leading maker of software, filed for bankruptcy protection and announced the sale of its prized Remedy unit to rival BMC Software for $350 million – far below the $1.2 billion Peregrine paid for it in August 2001. San Diego-based Peregrine also said it planned to sue former auditor Arthur Andersen LLP for $1 billion for failing to detect accounting problems that prompted a $100 million financial restatement and an inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Procter & Gamble is expected to offer "within days" to buy controlling interest in the company that makes Nivea skin-care products, the Financial Times reported. The newspaper said P&G likely would have to bid at least $9.8 billion – the point at which negotiations for a sale to French cosmetics giant L'Oreal broke down over the summer – for Beiersdorf AG of Hamburg, Germany. It also said P&G could find itself in a bidding war with Tchibo Holding, another Hamburg company that owns a 30 percent stake in Beiersdorf, has said it, too, would like controlling interest, and has billions in surplus cash to spend.

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