Business & Finance

MCI Inc. will write down the value of its assets by $3.5 billion to reflect the declining worth of its phone and data networks. The announcement Monday follows similar decisions by rivals AT&T and Sprint Corp. and comes at a time of adverse regulatory changes and fierce competition from local Bell phone companies.

The unexpected $8.1 billion offer by mining industry giant Harmony Ltd. for control of South African rival Gold Fields Ltd., made public Monday, was rejected as "grossly inadequate" and not in line with the latter's plan to merge with IAMGOLD, a leading Canadian player in the industry. The all-stock bid is contingent on Gold Fields backing out of that merger, which shareholders of both companies are scheduled to vote on Dec. 7. Harmony said it now would bypass Gold Fields' management and appeal instead to the latter's investors, most of whom are outside South Africa.

A $1.8 billion sale of new stock was announced by Prudential PLC, one of Europe's largest insurance companies. The carrier said the sale is aimed mainly at providing fresh capital for expansion as the industry undergoes a transformation, especially in Britain. Next year, new regulations go into effect there that encourage agents to offer policies for multiple underwriters rather than exclusively for one company. Prudential PLC is not related to the giant Prudential Financial Inc. of Newark, N.J.

Levi Strauss & Co. announced it is ending a five-month effort to auction off its Dockers casual clothing. brand. The jeans manufacturer was believed to be asking at least $1 billion for Dockers but had emphasized that it would hold onto the asset if the bidding didn't generate an acceptable price.

Select Medical Corp., which provides long-term acute care at more than 80 hospitals and operates 761 rehabilitation clinics, said Monday it has agreed to be taken private for $2.3 billion in cash and debt. Under the deal, led by Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, a private equity firm in New York, the company would have more money to operate free-standing centers. Select Medical is based in Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Greater Bay Bancorp has begun soliciting potential buyers, The Wall Street Journal reported. The company is valued at more than $1.5 billion and also operates the nation's 17th largest insurance brokerage, ABD Insurance & Financial Services. Greater Bay is based in Palo Alto, Calif.

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