Business & Finance

Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. joined the ranks of major corporations announcing they will expense employee stock options in their earnings reports. MetLife chief executive Robert Benmosche said the accounting change, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2003, is "part of an ongoing effort to help restore confidence in corporate America." Coca-Cola, General Electric, and Procter & Gamble recently agreed to adopt the practice. Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco Systems have said they won't do so.

Microsoft awarded Hewlett-Packard Co. a contract to provide computer help-desk support to its 61,000 employees and contractors. The multiyear deal is worth tens of millions of dollars, the world's leading software maker said, without announcing an exact figure. Hewlett-Packard sells more computers that use Microsoft's Windows operating system than any of its competitors but is seeking such service deals as a key growth area.

A vehicle-parts and repair chain for which Ford Motor Co. paid $1 billion three years ago is to be sold for barely half that, the world's second-largest automaker announced. Ford said Kwik-Fit Holdings PLC will be acquired by equity partners CVC Capital of London for $504 million. Ford had hoped to realize $1.2 billion from the sale, but settled for much less after the discovery of accounting irregularities at the Edinburgh, Scotland-based division. Kwik-Fit operates 2,500 shops in the United Kingdom and much of western Europe.

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