Business & Finance

IBM, the world's top maker of computer hardware, was expected to announce a $1 billion plan for wresting business away from Microsoft, the Financial Times reported. It said the effort will call for wooing software developers worldwide to translate their applications so they'll run on IBM platforms through such inducements as joint marketing deals, low-cost development tools, and access to large customer accounts. Analysts said encouraging the creation of "middleware" - software that can link core business applications - could reinvigorate IBM, which dropped out of the corporate applications market in 1999.

Time Warner Inc. completed the $2.6 billion sale of its Warner Music Group to an investor consortium led by ex-Universal media chief Edgar Bronfman Jr. Monday - a deal that creates one of the world's largest independent music companies. At least three senior executives of Warner's Atlanta and Elektra record labels immediately were pushed out, a source close to the situation said, suggesting that more layoffs would follow despite Bronfman's assurances as recently as January that no major shakeup was planned. A Warner Music spokesman declined to comment.

Two venerable publishing companies surprised industry analysts by announcing they'll merge to form a company worth more than $2 billion. Taylor & Francis Group PLC and its new partner, Informa Group PLC, both of London, trace their respective roots back to the 1700s. The latter issues books, magazines, newsletters, research reports, and CD-ROMs for the financial services, communications, medical, trade, and legal sectors. Taylor & Francis publishes specialty journals and books for the academic, industrial, and social science markets.

Billionaires David and Frederick Barclay abandoned their attempt to buy majority interest in the holding company that controls Hollinger International, one of the world's leading newspaper publishers. The British investors struck a secret deal to acquire Hollinger Inc. from Conrad Black, its former chairman, after he was fired in January in a bitter internal dispute. Hollinger International, which is based in Toronto but whose stock is traded in the US, then won an injunction in a Delaware court blocking the Barclay-Black deal. Hollinger owns such dailies as the Chicago Sun-Times, the Jerusalem Post, and London's Daily and Sunday Telegraph.

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