What Did Scott Tell Bill?

DID HE OR DIDN'T HE SPILL his guts? Intuit Chairman Scott Cook insists he didn't share sensitive information with giant Microsoft when the two companies were trying to merge earlier this year. Good thing. Because when the union got called off in May, Microsoft's Bill Gates once again became an arch-rival in PC-based financial planning, electronic bill paying, and home banking.

But wait a minute. A prospectus filed by Intuit in June says: "In connection with the proposed merger, [Intuit] shared business information with Microsoft...and there can be no assurance that Microsoft will not use the information made available to it to compete with the company." Intuit's Chief Financial Officer Bill Lane calls the wording "inadvertent, in retrospect."

Things should look swell for Cook. Intuit announced on July 14 that it had amassed an impressive roster of 19 online banking partners--including American Express and Smith Barney. Microsoft, though, is lining up its own bank partners and is now putting the finishing touches on an improved version of its personal-finance program.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.