News In Brief


Some websites cause controversy because they post information whose accuracy they can't vouch for and get caught in a mistake. Then there's, the URL of the New Zealand Golf Association. How could that possibly offend anyone? Well, because it posted the handicap and recent playing history of every registered golfer in the nation. Not surprisingly, there have been complaints. Since late last week, the site has carried this notice: "currently closed for maintenance."


Speaking of New Zealand, the Novotel lodging chain, which operates there and in Australia, has announced the results of a survey of guests' habits. As you might imagine, they fall along gender lines. Examples: Men tend to tip better but lock themselves out and sleep through wake-up calls more often. Women are messier, steal more towels, and have more accidents in the parking lot, but complain less about the no-smoking policy.

Top mega-mergers: all were completed in 1999 or later

A year and a day after America Online and Time Warner announced plans to merge, the companies crossed their final hurdle to closing the deal. The Federal Communications Commission gave its approval Jan. 11, although with significant conditions - including a requirement for some of AOL's popular instant-messaging services to be compatible with rival services. Regardless, the merger now ranks as one of the biggest deals to date worldwide. The top mergers, when they were completed, and the value of each (in billions) upon that date, using information from Thomson Financial Securities Data and wire reports:

1. Vodafone AirTouch-Mannesmann, April 2000 $161

2. Pfizer-Warner-Lambert, June 2000 116

3. America Online-Time Warner, January 2001 106

4. Exxon-Mobil, November 1999 81

5. Glaxo Wellcome-SmithKline Beecham, December 2000 74

- Associated Press

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