Business & Finance

Sprint Corp. was poised to sell more than 6,000 cellular phone towers to Global Signal Inc. of Sarasota, Fla., for about $1.2 billion, reports said. The deal, which could result in the towers being leased back to Sprint, is expected to free up cash to reduce debt. Meanwhile, a potential stumbling block to Sprint's proposed $35 billion takeover of Nextel Communications fell away Monday when the latter accepted a federal government plan to revamp its network to prevent interference with police communications and those of other public safety agencies, The Los Angeles Time reported.

In their scramble to stay competitive with aggressive manufacturers elsewhere in Asia, four Japanese electronics companies announced major deals affecting their plasma and liquid crystal display (LCD) businesses. Fujitsu Ltd. said it will sell its LCD operations to rival Sharp. Corp., a move that will result in the transfer of a technology it helped to pioneer more than 30 years ago but that since has been overtaken by Samsung and LG Electronics of South Korea and by Taiwan's AU Optronics Corp. Terms of the deal weren't made public. The benefit for Sharp is Fujitsu's patents, hundreds of engineers, and sales network, which will "further expand Sharp's capabilities in the small and midsize LCD segment," such as cellphones, hand-held game consoles, and high-definition TV sets, a joint statement said. Meanwhile, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic products, and Hitachi Ltd. said they'll form a partnership to develop, build, and market plasma display panels, which are used in the largest high-definition TVs. Growing consumer demand for both smaller LCD and wider-screen plasma TV sets in the final quarter of last year has eaten into the glut of unsold units in warehouses, dropping retail prices by an estimated 20 percent to 30 percent, reports said.

Riggs National Corp., the parent of Washington's embattled Riggs Bank, rejected revised merger terms by PNC Financial Services Group of Pittsburgh and sued its would-be partner. Riggs called the new terms - which cut last July's bid of about $779 million by 20 percent - "unacceptable." PNC insisted it had acted in good faith and cited what it called subsequent "deteriorations" at Riggs, which pleaded guilty in January to failing to report suspicious transactions in the accounts of foreign depositors. Deposits also have declined at Riggs' branches.

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