Business & Finance

Microsoft accused antitrust regulators in the European Union of overreaching their authority in fining the company a record $613 million for alleged abuses of its "virtual monopoly" in the software market on the Continent. The company said it would appeal the ruling, suggesting the key to its defense would be that the EU had no right to base the fine on gross sales, since the European market accounts for only about 30 percent of them. Its attorneys also noted that the company's operations already are regulated by the federal government and courts in the US, which permit the same business practices that are at issue in Europe. The EU ruling also gives the software giant four months to share its programming secrets with competitors and three months to offer a version of its Windows operating system without a video and music player. The EU said it will appoint a monitor to ensure that Microsoft complies with the ruling.

The Air Force agreed to buy 22 radar-evading Raptor fighter jets from Lockheed Martin for almost $110 million each. The deal followed Pentagon approval for continuing development of the controversial planes that critics say are more suited to the Cold War era than to modern military demands.

Virgin Atlantic Airways announced it will hire 1,400 new employees by year's end because of "encouraging signs that the market - particularly the all-important business travel sector - is returning to health." The carrier also said it is adding two new destinations: Sydney, Australia, and Havana.

The remaining $2.1 billion stake in Petro-Canada held by the Ottawa government will be offered for sale, the Finance Ministry announced Tuesday, confirming months of speculation. The company is Canada's second-largest oil producer and refiner and operates a nationwide chain of gas stations. It was set up in 1975 as a state-owned hedge against an anticipated global oil shortage, but the government has been privatizing it in pieces since 1991.

Viacom Inc. announced plans for a joint TV production company with China's state-owned Shanghai Media Group. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The venture will focus on programming for children.

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