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As expected, Microsoft appealed its record $606 million punishment at the hands of the European Commission for violation of antitrust rules. The software giant announced late Tuesday that it has asked the European Court of First Instance to cancel the fine, which was imposed March 24, and to annul an accompanying order that it share trade secrets with competitors on the Continent. Copies of the 100-page appeal were not made public, but the company said it is arguing that the fine and the order unfairly punish it for being successful and impinge on future technological innovation.

MGM Mirage and Mandalay Resort Group extended their merger-talks deadline from Tuesday to Friday as they hash out details of a possible multibillion-dollar deal to create the world's largest gambling company, a source close to the negotiations said. MGM Mirage's offer remains at $4.85 billion in cash and the assumption of $2.8 billion in debt. If completed, the deal will place about half the hotel rooms on the Las Vegas Strip in the hands of the combined company.

Thomas A. Lee Partners will assume a majority stake in Refco Group Ltd, a New York financial-services company with about $20 billion in assets, CBS MarketWatch reported. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but Refco reportedly is valued at $2.25 billion. The buyer, a leading private equity firm, is based in Boston.

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A merger valued at $2 billion appeared all but certain between Spain's fourth-largest real-estate developer and Socièté Foncière Lyonnaise SA, one of Europe's largest property managers, Bloomberg.com reported. It said the deal would give the buyer, Inmobiliara Colonial of Barcelona, a portfolio of properties in Paris to add to its holdings in Spain, where rental rates have been declining. Socièté Foncière Lyonnaise is based in the French capital.

Struggling theme-park operator Euro Disney won an OK from major creditors for the sale of new stock and bonds in what would be its second bailout in a decade. The company had warned that without a restructuring of finances, it would have to default on $2.9 billion in debt. Its main business is Disneyland Paris, but it also runs the adjacent Walt Disney Studios park, where attendance has been disappointing, plus hotels, golf courses, and conference centers.

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