Business & Finance

Microsoft Corp. announced it is abandoning stock options for its 50,000 employees Tuesday, heralding a shift in a practice once widely used by the technology industry but which has come under fire from corporate-reform advocates. Instead, the world's leading softwaremaker said that starting in September, it will give workers shares of restricted stock and will begin expensing share costs on its books as well.

In a surge of acquisitions-related activity:

• Auto parts supplier ArvinMeritor Inc. made a $2.2 billion hostile takeover bid for larger rival Dana Corp., in a move some analysts said may attract rival offers. Dana, of Toledo, Ohio, had rejected previous invitations to discuss a deal. ArvinMeritor is based in Troy, Mich.

• The board of French aluminum producer Pechiney SA unanimously rejected a $3.9 billion unsolicited offer from Montreal-based Alcan Inc., calling it "clearly inadequate." If an eventual deal is reached, their merger would create the world's top aluminum group in terms of revenue.

• Freight-hauler Yellow Corp. agreed to buy rival Roadway of Akron, Ohio, for $966 million in cash and stock, marking a further consolidation in the trucking industry. The deal must still be approved by federal regulators. Yellow is based in Overland Park, Kan.

Telecommunications firm RCN Corp. said it will close a call center in Springfield, Mass., that employs 350 people as part of a consolidation effort. A company spokesman said some workers would be offered jobs at its facility in Wilkes Barre, Penn. RCN is based in Princeton, N.J.

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