Business & Finance

Cisco Systems Inc. is taking a noncash charge of up to $500 million for the year's first quarter as a result of post-Enron accounting rules, The Wall Street Journal reported. In a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the San Jose, Calif., computer networking giant said the expense reflected the value of stock-option grants to 270 employees of Andiamo Systems, an in-house startup.

Food marketing giant ConAgra Inc. announced it is selling its Bumble Bee seafood brand to a consortium of private investors led by the latter's senior managers and Centre Partners Management LLC of New York. The deal also includes ConAgra's Clover Leaf and Paramount seafood brands and canneries in California, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Ecuador. Terms were not disclosed. Bumble Bee, which was operated as a separate company based in San Diego, will remain there. ConAgra's headquarters are in Omaha, Neb.

Cash-strapped Weirton Steel Corp. filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code. The employee-owned company cited debts of $1.41 billion, compared to assets of $654 million. But it said it has secured enough financing to continue operations for 18 months while it restructures. Weirton, based in the West Virginia city of the same name, is the US's sixth-largest steelmaker but the No. 2 producer of tin.

In a deal to bring back Napster, the controversial, defunct online music-swapping service, software maker Roxio Inc. said it paid almost $40 million to buy a new enabling platform from Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. The technology, known as pressplay, was a joint venture aimed at selling music legally online, but reports said it had only about 100,000 subscribers and was losing money. Roxio bought the Napster name last November, and analysts said its challenge would be to marry the two and market them as a paid service. The deal comes less than a month after Apple Computer unveiled its iTunes online music store. In its first 16 days, iTunes sold more than 2 million tracks at 99 cents apiece.

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