News In Brief

Ameritech corp. agreed to sell 20 Midwestern cellular properties for $3.27 billion to GTE Corp. and a private partnership, meeting conditions imposed by the Justice Department on its planned merger with SBC Communications. The deal will eliminate all cellular properties overlapping with SBC, Ameritech said. Up to 1,700 Ameritech employees would transfer to GTE as a result of the sale. The $61 billion merger of the two regional phone companies is still under state and federal review.

Seeing light at the end of the tunnel when their larger brethren don't, small and medium-sized companies in Japan show increased confidence in the nation's battered economy, a new report indicated. A closely watched Bank of Japan quarterly survey found optimism among small firms three percentage points higher than in the final quarter of 1998. Among medium-sized firms it was up four points. But among the largest companies confidence fell another two points from the December figure, which at the time was the lowest in four years. The survey compares the percentage of companies that consider themselves optimistic with those that view business conditions as worsening.

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