News In Brief

Liberty Financial will sell two of its divisions to Sun Life Financial Services of Canada for $1.7 billion in cash, the companies announced. The units are Keyport Life Insurance and Independent Financial Marketing, which distributes annuities and mutual funds to small and medium-size banks. Sun Life is based in Toronto; Liberty Financial in Boston. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Newell Rubbermaid Inc. said it will cut 3,000 jobs over the next three years. The Freeport, Ill.-based company, which also markets under the Parker and Little Tikes brands, reported a 50 percent drop in first-quarter earnings. The cuts are part of a $100 million cost-saving plan that also calls for consolidating manufacturing plants.

The latest casualty of the downturn in global telecommunications, Viatel Inc., filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code and laid off 350 more employees. The company, while based in New York, provides clients in 59 European cities with long-distance voice and data transmission via its fiber-optic network. But it lost $1.6 billion last year, has been unable to arrange for new lines of credit, and missed two debt payments last month. In February, it cut 700 jobs.

The former chairmen of Sotheby's and Christie's International, the world's largest auction houses, have been indicted on price-fixing charges, the Justice Department said. A federal grand jury in New York charged Alfred Taubman, ex-chief of Sotheby's, and Sir Anthony Tennant, his Christie's counterpart, with conspiring to fix commission rates charged to sellers from 1993 to 1999. Christie's and Sotheby's, based in London and New York, respectively, together control at least 90 percent of live auctions of art works, jewelry, and furniture. If convicted, each man could face three years in prison and a $350,000 fine.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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