AT&T Corp. agreed to sell its cable television business to Comcast Corp. for $52 billion, creating a cable giant double the size of its biggest rival, AOL Time Warner Inc.
With 22 million subscribers, the new company, AT&T Comcast Corp., would reach one of four pay television households.
The deal would put AT&T well on the way to completing the corporate breakup announced 13 months ago by its chairman and chief executive, C. Michael Armstrong.
That announcement, which involved splitting AT&T into three separate businesses serving the consumer, business, wireless and broadband markets, presaged the end of Armstrong's multibillion-dollar experiment in transforming the giant phone company into a multi-platform provider of media and communications services.
Amgen to Buy Rival Biotech Firm Immunex
In a deal that would be the biggest in biotechnology history, Thousand Oaks-based Amgen Inc. agreed to pay about $16 billion in cash and stock for rival Immunex, which is majority-owned by American Home Products Inc.
The deal, which would create a company with annual revenue of $5 billion and 8,700 employees, would put four of the most promising biotechnology drugs on the market today under one roof. And it would combine Amgen's manufacturing expertise with Immunex's scientific know-how in the emerging field of anti-inflammatory drugs.
The centerpiece of the deal is Enbrel, Immunex's successful rheumatoid arthritis drug. Sales of Enbrel are expected to reach $750 million this year, but that is a fraction of what Amgen believes is possible.
Vivendi Reveals Entertainment Deals
Vivendi Universal officially announced its plan to buy the entertainment division of USA Networks Inc., and in a further sign of the French company's global aspirations, said it aims to form a television alliance with John Malone's Liberty Media Corp.
The two companies are discussing ways of producing television programs for their European satellite and cable businesses, Vivendi chief Jean-Marie Messier said. Liberty declined to comment on the alliance.
Vivendi's $10.3-billion deal with USA would put longtime Hollywood executive Barry Diller at the helm of a refashioned Universal Studios. Liberty, which is a large shareholder in USA, would become a major shareholder in Vivendi under the complicated terms of the acquisition.
Vivendi also announced its plan to take an 11% stake in U.S. satellite TV provider EchoStar Communications Corp.
Carnival Makes Bid
for P&O Princess
A potential bidding war between the leading cruise ship operators unfolded as industry leader Carnival Inc. moved to thwart a merger between P&O Princess and Royal Caribbean Cruises.
P&O seemed intrigued and has postponed a key shareholder meeting to consider the Royal Caribbean merger to give its shareholders time to consider "their alternatives." In November, P&O and Caribbean announced a $3-billion deal.
The cruise industry fell into a severe slump after Sept. 11 when demand for leisure travel plunged.
Conexant Unit to Merge With Rival Alpha
Conexant Systems Inc. said it will spin off its wireless communications business and merge it with rival Alpha Industries Inc. in a stock swap to create one of the largest makers of communications chips for cellular telephones.
The combined company would initially have about 4,000 employees and $600 million in annual sales, or about 12% of the fragmented wireless market.
The new Alpha-Conexant company, initially headquartered both in Newport Beach and at Alpha offices in Woburn, Mass., would be the largest wireless chip company able to give manufacturers a complete package of electronics, say analysts and company executives.
Pact With Televisa
Univision Communications Inc. struck an $800-million deal with its Mexican and Venezuelan partners to air exclusive television programming.
The deal, which also includes the purchase of the leading Latin record label, solidified Univision's position as the dominant Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S.
As part of the complicated agreement, Grupo Televisa of Mexico City will increase its holdings in Los Angeles-based Univision to 15%, while Venevision of Caracas, Venezuela, will boost its Univision stake to 19%.
Univision will have sole rights to the world's most popular Spanish-language programs. The deal puts more pressure on its much smaller Miami-based rival, Telemundo, to find quality programming for the U.S. market.
Dow Ends Week Higher, but Nasdaq Slips
Stocks moved broadly higher last week, but the technology sector retreated on concerns that tech industry profits might not justify the sector's recent big gains.
The benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.9%--its biggest weekly gain since early November--and the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 2.3%.
Investors were encouraged by a string of economic reports that hinted the worst might be over for the U.S. economy.