Business & Finance

Instinet Group, which offers anonymous electronic trading of stocks worldwide, has put itself up for sale, The New York Times reported. The company, a 2001 spinoff of the Reuters news agency, could fetch more than $2 billion at auction, the newspaper said. Its headquarters are in New York.

In a deal valued at $1.35 billion, the nation's largest employee-owned research and engineering company, Science Applications International Corp., agreed to sell its Telcordia software unit to a private investment consortium led by Providence Equity Partners and Warburg Pincus. Telcordia, based in Piscataway, N.J., provides support services to telephone companies and once was part of the AT&T system before the latter's breakup in 1984. Warburg Pincus is based in New York; Providence Equity Partners in Providence, R.I.

The founders of Pilgrim-Baxter & Associates, a New York money-management firm, will pay penalties of $80 million each to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges that they profited improperly from permitting favored investors to engage in market-timing. In an agreement characterized as "virtually unprecedented," Harold Baxter and Gary Pilgrim, both of whom were forced to resign last year, also accepted lifetime bans from the securities industry. The fines are the largest yet imposed on individuals in the widespread market-timing investigation by the SEC and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D). Their former company also paid a $100 million fine in the case in June. Although market-timing isn't illegal, it can negatively affect long-term investors by driving up transaction and tax costs when used selectively.

Automaker MG Rover won a test of its jobs-for-life pledge to thousands of unionized employees. The company was owned by Germany's BMW in 1997 when it made the pledge to the Transport & General Workers and two other unions. But it was sold three years later to British investors, who threatened layoffs at its Birmingham, England, plant. With union backing, one worker sued on the basis of the pledge, but a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that the assurance isn't enforceable and that the plaintiffs have no standing to pursue the matter further. An MG Rover spokesman, however, said the company would work with the unions to avoid layoffs "wherever possible."

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