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Verizon Agrees to Buy MCI

MCI (MCIP) agrees to be acquired by Verizon (VZ) for $4.8 billion in equity and $488 million in cash. The terms of the agreement give 0.4062 Verizon share and $1.50 cash per MCI share. MCI will pay its shareowners quarterly, special dividends of $4.50 per share.

Qwest Communications (Q) falls after Banc of America says a Verizon (VZ) win for MCI (MCIP) would likely prod Qwest to rationalize its long-distance business sooner rather than later as its two biggest competitors secure substantial incremental margin advantage. S&P keeps its sell rating.

American International Group (AIG) received subpoenas from the New York's Office of Attorney General and the SEC relating to investigations of non-traditional insurance products, certain assumed reinsurance transactions, and AIG's accounting for such transactions.

General Motors (GM) and Fiat S.P.A. ink a deal to end the Master Agreement between the companies and to realign their industrial relationships. GM will acquire certain strategic assets from Fiat. GM is to take about a $840 million charge ($1.49 per share).

Chiron (CHIR) says the SEC issued a formal order of investigation of potential violations of federal securities laws. The company notes an informal SEC inquiry began following suspension by of Chiron's license to make the influenza vaccine in the UK.

OfficeMax (OMX) President and CEO Christopher C. Milliken resigns. Also, the company says its recent investigation reveals certain rebates and other payments from vendors were not recorded and will restate each quarter of 2004. S&P reiterates its hold rating.

Taser International (TASR) gets three follow-on orders for Taser X26 devices and an initial international order from Singapore National Police Force.

Ariba (ARBA) is to pay ePlus Inc. (PLUS) $37 million, after a jury finds all ePlus patent claims tried in court and associated elements were valid and that Ariba willfully infringed every instance.

Bear Stearns upgrades Pacer International (PACR) to outperform from peer perform.

Audiovox (VOXX) posted a 10-cent fourth-quarter loss, vs. 26 cents earnings per share from continuing operations on 21% lower revenue. The company sees $118 million to $122 million in first-quarter revenue.

Medtronic (MDT) says it is voluntarily advising physicians about the potential battery shorting mechanism that may occur in a subset of implantable cardioverter-defibrillator and cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator models.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA) says the FDA has granted a tentative approval for its ANDAs for Levofloxacin Injections of various doses. Final approval is subject to a resolution of ongoing patent litigation.

Leucadia National (LUK)'s WilTel, SBC's prefered provider for domestic voice and data services will be negatively effected by SBC's plans to migrate its Internet-based, long-distance services to AT&T, according to Barron's.

Encysive Pharmaceuticals (ENCY) says the pivotal Phase III STRIDE-2 trial to evaluate safety and efficacy of Thelin in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension met its primary endpoint of improved six minute walk distance.

Arthur Gallagher (AJG) says the jury awarded damages against its unit, AJG Financial Services Inc., in favor of Headwaters Inc. (HDWR), in the amount of $175 million. The company relates to its previously disclosed trial of license deal dispute lawsuit brought by Headwaters.

Goldman downgrades Armor Holdings (AH) to underperform from in-line. On Friday, the company posted 74 cents fourth-quarter earnings per share and forecast 75 cents to 78 cents first-quarter earnings per share.

Bear Stearns upgrades Pacer International (PACR) to outperform from peer perform.

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