Business & Finance

An appeals court unanimously overturned Federal Communications Commission rules adopted last year that were designed to foster competition for local telephone service, handing a legal victory to former Bell companies SBC, Qwest, and Bell South. A three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals said the FCC acted improperly in letting state regulators require that the Bells lease parts of their networks, thus allowing competitors such as AT&T and MCI to piggyback onto existing infrastructure and lower their startup costs. The court put the decision on hold for 60 days to hear motions to reconsider its decision - the third so far invalidating FCC attempts to write rules for local telephone service.

Ford and Mazda Motor Corp. said 1,000 new employees will be needed for their joint-venture assembly line near Detroit when production of the redesigned Mustang begins later this year. Some of the jobs will be filled by workers from Ford's Edison, N.J., pickup-truck plant, which closed last week. Meanwhile, a state court in Georgia ordered Ford to pay an Atlanta family $33 million for a paralyzing injury sustained by their small daughter, whose fold-down seat in a 2000 Lincoln LS collapsed in an accident.

McDonald's Corp. announced the phase-out of "super sized" French fry and soft-drink options at its more than 13,000 US outlets. The downsizing will be completed by the end of the year, except during special promotions, the fast-food giant said. The decision occurs against a backdrop of public concern about obesity in children and a growing preference for food options that are seen as healthier.

In a $5.47 billion deal involving the swapping of stock and assumption of debt, beer-industry giant Interbrew said it will merge with AmBev of Brazil. The combined companies have a 14 percent share of the world's beer market and will rival Budweiser of the US as the world's largest brewer by volume. Analysts said the deal could accelerate the trendof mergers in the business. Interbrew, based in Leuwen, Belgium, has spent more than $13 billion on acquisitions and joint ventures since 1995.

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