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WorldCom Inc. this morning offered to buy MCI Communications Corp. for $30 billion, topping a deal MCI was on the verge of closing with British Telecommunications PLC.

The WorldCom bid, if successful, would be the largest merger in corporate history, ahead of the $25.6 billion combination of Bell Atlantic Corp. and Nynex Corp.

WorldCom's bold attempt to become a giant in U.S. telephone and Internet service takes advantage of recent troubles between BT and MCI over projected losses in MCI's local telephone business.

WorldCom, the nation's fourth-largest long-distance company, has been on a buying binge to increase its business of providing Internet service. In the last month it struck a deal to acquire CompuServe Corp. and divide it with America Online.

Also today, WorldCom said it would acquire Brooks Fiber Properties Inc., a local telecommunications services company, in a $2.9 billion deal.

UPS pilots reject contract offer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- United Parcel Service pilots today overwhelmingly rejected what the company termed its "last, best and final offer" for a five-year contract. But pre-emptive measures taken by federal mediators likely will delay any strike until after the busy holiday season.

All but 39 of the 1,900 pilots whose votes were counted turned down the offer from the nation's largest shipping company, the Independent Pilots Association announced.

The offer would have increased salaries by 19.8 percent over the life of the contract. The pilots previously had said they would reject any proposal that included raises of less than 21 percent.

Boeing to build plant in Alabama
DECATUR, Ala. (AP) -- The Boeing Co. on Tuesday selected Decatur, Ala., as the site of a new rocket plant that could create up to 3,000 jobs.

The aerospace giant said it would build the common booster core for its Delta IV rockets at a 2 million-square-foot facility in Decatur in northern Alabama.

Clinton levels unfair trade charges
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Clinton administration today accused South Korea, Japan, Canada, the European Union and Australia of unfair trade practices, starting a process that could eventually lead to economic sanctions.

The charge against South Korea came despite 11th-hour negotiations held over the past several days in which the South Koreans sought to keep from being singled out.

Sony, Cineplex to merge theaters
NEW YORK (AP) -- Sony Corp. of America and Cineplex Odeon announced Tuesday they are merging their theater businesses to form the world's largest movie theater company with more than 2,600 screens in North America.

The combined company will be named Loews Cineplex Entertainment and will have more than 460 theater complexes. The merger involves Cineplex Odeon and the Loews Theatres Exhibition Group, which consists of Sony/Loews Theatres and its joint ventures with Star Theatres and Magic Johnson Theatres.

In other business news
In its first civil fraud action against a city, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged Tuesday that Syracuse and two city officials misled bond investors. The SEC alleged that Syracuse issued "materially false and misleading" financial statements in connection with municipal bond offerings in December 1995 and February 1996 that totaled $23.1 million. The statements made it appear the city had a surplus of $400,000 when, in fact, there was a deficit of $9.4 million.

Nucor Corp., the nation's fourth-largest steelmaker, has lowered prices 7 percent for hot-rolled steel, widely used in the construction industry, reflecting increased competition in the industry.

A federal administrative judge ruled Tuesday that Toys "R" Us Inc. used its muscle as the nation's largest toy seller to prevent toy manufacturers from supplying low-priced shopping clubs. Toys "R" Us said it will appeal.

Ticketmaster Group said Tuesday it is working with Intel Corp. on an Internet ordering service that will let ticket buyers actually see how close their seats are to the stage.

Union Pacific Railroad has canceled its unconventional plan to use a ship to move freight from Los Angeles to the East Coast.

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