Business & Finance

Reliant Resources Inc. joined the list of energy traders admitting to having used "swaps" to create the appearance of higher than actual revenues. Reliant chief executive R. Steve Ledbetter said the fake trades were the fault of "misguided" managers who sought to improve the company's standing in its industry but who no longer are on the payroll. The revenues were inflated by about 10 percent over three years. The practice, which caused Enron's collapse, also has been admitted to by rivals Dynegy and CMS Energy Corp. CMS is based in Dearborn, Mich. The others all have their headquarters in Houston.

Vivendi Universal, the international multimedia giant, put its remaining stake in British satellite broadcaster BSkyB on the market, with an asking price of $2.5 billion. The shares will be sold by Deutsche Bank, which has served as their custodian as a condition of Vivendi's 2000 merger with rival Seagram. The Paris-based company also is known to be chafing over concern about its roughly $30 billion debt. A spokesman "categorically" denied published reports that Vivendi came dangerously close to reneging on some debt payments at the end of last year.

A takeover offer valued at $1.53 billion in cash, stock, and assumption of debt was announced by natural gas producer Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. for rival Rio Alto Exploration. Investors in the latter welcomed the bid but said they hoped for a higher offer, perhaps from a third party. A Canadian Natural/Rio Alto merger would make the venture the fourth-largest independent gas producer in North America. Both companies are based in Calgary, Alberta.

A record loss of $6.2 billion for the year ending March 30 was reported by Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (NTT), the Japanese communications giant. The company blamed the reversal – following a $3.6 billion profit the year before – on Japan's economic slump, the costs of a corporate shakeup, and a writedown of assets. NTT president Junichiro Miyazu announced he would step down to pave the way for a new restructuring plan.

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