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Bell Atlantic's chief executive said Thursday his company plans to file an application with federal regulators in the next few days to enter the New York long-distance telephone market.

With favorable action from the Federal Communications Commission, Bell Atlantic would become the first regional telephone company to receive such approval.

"We feel very confident about the application," Bell Atlantic CEO Ivan Seidenberg told reporters after unveiling his company's plans while appearing at a Capitol Hill summit with other chief executives in the telecommunications industry.

New York's Public Service Commission already has held public hearings on whether Bell Atlantic is complying with a 1996 federal telecommunications law. The law requires local and regional phone companies to show they have given potential rivals sufficient access to their lines to create local phone competition as a condition for offering long-distance service.

The state Public Service Commission can then inform the FCC on the state of competition in New York once Bell Atlantic files its application.

True North combines two ad agencies
CHICAGO (AP) -- True North Communications, parent company for two leading advertising firms, announced Thursday that it had consolidated the companies to form the largest U.S. ad agency and the fifth-biggest worldwide.

The realigned company, FCB Worldwide, combines FCB with a large part of Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon and Eckhardt Inc., which True North bought out in December 1997.

The move includes Bozell's international offices along with offices in Detroit and Costa Mesa, Calif.

The enlarged FCB Worldwide now has combined estimated billings of about $8 billion, making it the largest in the United States. It also will be one of the largest in the world, ranking behind such ad agency powerhouses as Dentsu Inc. and Young & Rubicam in terms of billings.

Mortgage rates move higher in week
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages ticked up to 7.88 percent this week. The average was up from 7.83 percent last week, according to a weekly survey released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the mortgage company.

Fifteen-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, averaged 7.49 percent this week, also up from the average of 7.45 percent last week.

On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 6.21 percent this week, up from 6.18 percent the previous week.

Separately, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America said that mortgage loan applications for the week ending Sept. 3 decreased 13.8 percent from the previous week and were down 49.3 percent compared to the same week last year.

In other business news
Merger partners Cyprus Amax Minerals Co. and Asarco Inc. said Thursday their boards of directors have rejected a $2.7 billion all-stock offer by Phelps Dodge Corp. to acquire both companies.

Reebok International Ltd. said Thursday it plans to lay off 10 percent of its 6,600 workers worldwide in an attempt to cut costs and restructure its business. The cuts include 120 jobs out of the 1,200 people that work at the company's Massachusetts headquarters.

Sony Corp. of America joined a growing list of companies rushing to market the latest device for couch potatoes by taking a stake in TiVo Inc., a maker of digital video recorders that could one day replace VCRs. Sony plans to invest more than $25 million in Sunnyvale, Calif.-based TiVo and will become one of the company's two producers of "personal video recorders" -- set-top devices that rely on hard drives rather than videotape to record television shows. TiVo had already signed up Philips Electronics to manufacture the devices, which began selling at Best Buy stores on Thursday.

Pokemon trading cards, so popular that stores are finding it hard to keep them in stock, are joining G.I. Joe and Monopoly in the toy lineup of Hasbro Inc. The toy maker said Thursday it is buying Wizards of the Coast, a games company that not only sells Pokemon cards but also owns the best-selling game Magic: The Gathering as well as Dungeons & Dragons. The deal is valued at $325 million. Pokemon (pronounced po-KEE-mon) is an inexpensive card game that debuted as a low-tech video game and burgeoned into an empire. It was started in Japan by Nintendo as a Game Boy video game in which players find, capture, collect and train 150 pet monsters.

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