News In Brief

A Los Angeles jury ordered General Motors to pay $4.9 billion to six people who were burned in 1993 when their car exploded after being hit from behind by a drunk driver. GM quickly responded to what the plaintiffs' lawyer said was the largest product-liability award to date in the US by sympathizing with the victims but vowing to appeal on grounds that the vehicle met US safety requirements.

One month after acquiring controlling interest in a Japanese telecommunications company, Britain's Cable & Wireless Communications Plc. is about to announce a merger with domestic rival NTL Inc., a published report in London said. The Observer newspaper estimated the value of the combined companies at $20.2 billion. It said Cable & Wireless was making the move after failing to complete a merger with the No. 2 British cable provider, Telewest Communications, but that the latter could yet be lured into negotiations for a three-way partnership. On June 9, Cable & Wireless won a majority stake in Japan's International Digital Communications.

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