Business & Finance

Comcast, the largest US cable TV operator, is poised to enter the telephone business, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The company, which has 21.5 million subscribers, aims to add 8 million customers for its new Internet-based service within five years, the Journal said. Details of the plan are expected to be announced at an investors conference in Phoenix, but the report said the projected price of unlimited domestic phone service when bundled with cable and high-speed Internet service would be $39.95 per month.

Following the industry trend to grow by merging, Alltel Corp., the sixth biggest US wireless carrier, agreed to buy Western Wireless Corp. of Bellevue, Wash., for $4.4 billion. The acquisition will allow Alltel, based in Little Rock, Ark., to add about 1.4 subscribers in Western and rural Midwestern areas, expanding its customer base to 10 million in 33 states.

Newbridge Capital Group, a leading private-equity fund based in Fort Worth, Texas, and the South Korea government agreed to sell their joint control of Korea First Bank to Standard Chartered PLC of London. The buyer will pay $3.3 billion, and the investment will be the largest in South Korea to date by a foreign company, reports said. Standard Chartered, which already earns most of its revenue in Asia, outbid larger British rival HSBC Holdings for the prize.

The high-powered, rear-wheel-drive Dodge Charger will return to dealer showrooms this summer after a two-decade absence, Chrysler Corp. announced. Introduced in the 1960s as a so-called muscle car, the Charger became popular with the street-racing crowd and was featured as the "General Lee" in the long-running TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard" in the '70s and '80s.

Unionized employees of Caterpillar Inc., the heavy-equipment manufacturer, OK'd a new six-year contract Sunday that ends a nine-month stalemate in negotiations. The deal covers about 9,000 members of the United Auto Workers, who work at plants in Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Under it, members will contribute to their own healthcare costs for the first time.

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