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Wed, May 21, 2003 - Page 12 News List

World business quick take

Fraud

Fastow pleads not guilty

Enron Corp former chief financial officer Andrew Fastow pleaded not guilty to new charges that he master-minded the accounting scandal that bankrupted the former energy trader. Fastow, who last year pleaded not guilty to 78 counts of fraud and other federal charges in connec-tion with the collapse of Enron, on Monday denied in US federal court in Hous- ton, Texas, that he had also conspired to falsify business records, filed false tax forms and committed insider trading, among other new charges. Fastow, who was not in court, entered the plea through his law-yers. Fastow and 18 others have been charged in the government's investigation of Enron, which lost US$68 billion in market value from its stock market high to its filing for bankruptcy in December 2001.

Internet

Napster plans comeback

The once-wildly popular online music site Napster will make a comeback, its new owner said Monday as it announced plans to acquire the Pressplay music venture and use it as the basis for a new Napster. The announcement Monday by the music software firm Roxio said it was acquiring Pressplay, the online music venture of Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment in a cash and stock deal worth an esti-mated US$39.5 million. "As a result of this transaction, Roxio has acquired a legal digital music distribution infrastructure and catalog rights with all five major music labels," the Santa Clara, California, firm said in a statement. Pressplay will serve as the foundation for the launch of Roxio's new legal online music service under the Napster brand.

Telecoms

Orange offers instant texting

Orange SA, Europe's No. 2 wireless company, said an accord with Microsoft Corp allows customers to have real-time text conversations on their phones through the US company's MSN Messen-ger and Hotmail services. About 35 million Orange customers can send and receive messages simul-taneously between groups of users through their existing phone. They can also receive alerts when new mail lands in their Hotmail account, the France Telecom SA unit said in an e-mailed statement. MSN, the second-biggest US Internet service provider, has about 110 million registered Hotmail users and Messenger has 75 million. European wireless operators are adding services such as games, video and photo messaging to persuade customers to spend more as subscriber growth slows. Orange on April 29 said first-quarter subscriber growth in the UK and France almost ground to a halt.

Biotechnology

Mahathir launches project

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad yester-day launched an ambitious biotechnology hub as part of Malaysia's push towards becoming a developed nation by 2020. Mahathir, performing the ground-breaking ceremony for the BioValley project, invited foreign scientists and investors to set up base there to tap Malaysia's rich bio-diversity. He said the government would invest 100 million ringgit (US$263 million) in the initial phase to build infrastructure and facilities, including three research institutions dealing in genomics, pharmaceu-ticals and agriculture by 2006. The BioValley got off to a good start with three companies signing intent letters to set up base there.

Agencies

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