Business & Finance

Threatened retaliation against the US by the European Union over President Bush's decision to increase steel-import tariffs likely will be delayed, the Financial Times reported. It said two influential EU members won unanimous approval of their view that the retaliatory sanctions due to take effect June 18 were "too inflexible." But the newpaper also said the EU was prepared to impose the sanctions next month after all if a set of exclusions to the higher tariffs – under consideration in Washington – was not deemed satisfactory. Among those exclusions: specialty-steel products made in Europe. The EU sanctions would cover two lists of nonsteel goods, one seeking $375.7 million in compensation, the other $563.8 million.

As expected, online music-swapping service Napster filed for bankruptcy protection. Last month, German multi-media giant Bertelsmann agreed to take over the controversial California-based website under a financial restructuring that would pay its creditors $8 million.

AT&T is the most likely buyer for assets of KPNQwest, a spokesman for the bankrupt Dutch telecommunications group said. KPNQwest's fiber-optic network spans 18 countries and is the largest in Europe. AT&T, the top US long-distance provider, declined comment on the issue.

USA Interactive, the successor to USA Networks, made a $4.5 billion offer that would bring three subsidiaries under its full control. The unsolicited stock bid involves Ticketmaster, online travel agency Expedia, and room-booking service Last week, USA Interactive offered $578 million for Interval International, a Miami-based travel-services firm.

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