Business & Finance

Coca-Cola settled a long-running antitrust case by agree-ing to change its sales practices in Europe, a deal expected to increase competition in the $21 billion-a-year soft drink market there. The settlement, announced Tuesday, ends a five-year probe by the European Union and allows Coke to avoid a fine and, potentially, years of litigation. It also calls for the company to end exclusivity deals with stores and restaurants and to yield 20 percent of the space in its coolers to rivals, provided the coolers are the only ones in a given store.

Citigroup moved to restore damage to its reputation by firing three senior executives who failed to head off regulatory problems in Japan, the Financial Times reported. They were identified as Sir Deryck Maughan, chairman of Citigroup International; Thomas Jones, head of investment management; and Peter Scaturro, head of Citigroup's private bank. The bank was ordered closed last month for violations of Japanese law.

Mortgage giant Fannie Mae, whose accounting practices previously were under informal investigation, said in a regulatory filing Tuesday that it's now the subject of a formal inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The second-largest US financial institution behind Citigroup is accused of manipulating its books to meet earnings expectations.

With the unanimous consent of its board, Cox Communications Inc. will become private by year's end, The Wall Street Journal reported. It said the Cox family of Atlanta has upped its offer for the 38 percent of the cable-TV and telecommunications giant it doesn't own from $32 a share to $34.75 - or more than $8 billion. The Journal said the family also has reached an understanding with other shareholders who had sued to prevent the takeover.

Major League Baseball was expected to announce an 11-year deal with XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. that would make every team's games available to subscribers. Analysts said the $650 million pact represents a plum catch for XM in its competition with Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. Both offer more than 100 channels, many of them focused on specific music genres and talk shows.

Constellation Brands Inc., the world's largest seller of wines, is attempting an unsolicited takeover of rival Robert Mondavi Corp., The Wall Street Journal reported. The report valued Constellation's offer at just under $1 billion and said Mondavi's board was willing to consider it. Constellation is based in Fairport, N.Y.; Mondavi's headquarters are in Napa, Calif.

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