Business & Finance

Microsoft won a temporary suspension of the antitrust ruling that it must unbundle its music and video player technology from the Windows operating system it sells in Europe. Regulators for the European Union agreed Sunday not to enforce the order until a court can decide later this summer whether it should remain suspended for the duration of the company's appeals process. Otherwise, the order would have taken effect Monday.

Crown Castle International Corp. agreed to sell its system of radio towers and antennas in Britain for $2 billion to National Grid Transco PLC. The latter manages the natural gas and electricity distribution networks for England and Wales but has indicated it wants to shift some of its focus away from gas to the cellphone infrastructure business. Crown Castle, based in Houston, will use most of the proceeds from the sale to pay down debt, the financial news service reported.

For reasons it would not specify, the state-owned exploration company Japan National Oil Corp. shelved plans for a $1.4 billion initial public offering in its INPEX subsidiary. The sale had been expected next month but will be delayed indefinitely, a memo said. INPEX was set up to acquire an assured supply of crude for Japan, Asia's No. 1 oil importer. It drew heavy criticism from the US in February for agreeing to a multibillion-dollar deal to develop the Azadegan oilfield in Iran.

Royal KPN, the No. 1 telecommunications company in the Netherlands, will spend another $1.2 billion to buy back shares of its own stock, senior executives said. The decision expands a program that began at $900 million. It follows unsuccessful efforts earlier this year by KPN to merge with British cellphone service provider mm02.

SBC Communications Inc., the second-largest provider of local phone service in the US, reached a tentative five-year agreement to avert a strike by 11,500 unionized employees in Illinois and northwestern Indiana. The pact, which must be approved by members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, settled differences over healthcare costs and job security and gives SBC greater control over its cost structure, a spokesman said. SBC is based in San Antonio and operates in 13 states.

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