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ERNST & YOUNG, KPMG LINK IN $18 BILLION DEAL

And now, the Big Six are becoming four.

Accounting giants Ernst & Young LLP and KPMG Peat Marwick LLP said today they will merge, creating the nation's largest accounting firm with about $18.3 billion in annual revenues.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Just last month, fellow Big Six companies Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse agreed to merge. That combined company will have $13 billion in annual revenues, placing it temporarily on top of the list.

The moves are a reflection of the changing focus of the industry into a one-stop service that combines the traditional auditing and accounting of companies with consulting.

Ernst & Young and KPMG had combined fiscal 1997 U.S. revenues of more than $7.5 billion and 47,500 employees. The firms have 12,800 partners.

Starwood to acquire ITT
NEW YORK (AP) -- After months of resisting Hilton Hotel's uninvited $11.1 billion buyout offer, ITT Corp. said today it has agreed to a $13.3 billion bid from the real estate investment concern Starwood Lodging.

Starwood Lodging has a pending buyout of the Westin hotel brand and is one of the world's biggest real estate investment trust concerns.

By combining with ITT, whose properties include Sheraton hotels and Caesars casinos, Starwood would control one of the world's biggest hotel companies with about 650 hotels in 70 countries and revenues of more than $10 billion.

Starwood is offering $82 a share in cash and stock for ITT shares. Its offer includes $15 a share in cash and the remainder in Starwood shares.

Hilton Hotels has offered $70 a share in cash and stock for ITT with 50.1 percent in cash.

Staples president resigns
WESTBOROUGH, Mass. (Bloomberg) -- Martin E. Hanaka, a Buffalo native, has resigned as president and chief operating officer of Staples Inc. after being arrested earlier this month on charges that he assaulted a woman.

Hanaka also stepped aside as a director of the office-supply retailer. He will continue as a full-time consultant for six months.

Hanaka was arrested Oct. 7 on domestic-assault charges after Cheryl Gordon, a Staples employee, told police that he grabbed her arm and spun her around in her home. He pleaded innocent to the charges and said the two weren't having an affair.

HSN buying Universal TV operations
NEW YORK (AP) -- Home Shopping Network's parent company is buying most of Universal Studios' television operations, including the USA Network and Sci-Fi Network, for $4.1 billion, the companies said today.

HSN Inc., headed by mogul Barry Diller, will change its name to USA Networks Inc. and combine the cable networks with HSN's broadcast stations and controlling interest in Ticketmaster.

Universal will get a 45 percent stake in HSN and $1.2 billion in cash.

Ivester in line to succeed Goizueta
ATLANTA (AP) -- Roberto C. Goizueta, the late Coca-Cola Co. chief, had carefully groomed a successor, and his heir apparent isn't expected to dramatically change the course he helped Goizueta steer.

"His greatest legacy is the way he so carefully selected and then nurtured the future leadership of his company," board member Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, said after Goizueta's death Saturday at age 65 from lung cancer.

Coke's board will meet later in the week and is expected to name M. Douglas Ivester, the company's president, to succeed Goizueta, Coke's chairman and chief executive officer since 1981.

In other business news
Quaker State Corp. has signed a letter of intent to sell Truck-Lite Co. Inc. to Penske Capital Parters LLC for an undisclosed amount of cash. Truck-Lite, which makes safety lights and lights for trucks and trailers, has about 300 employees at its plant in Falconer and another 700 at plants in Wellsboro, Pa., McElhattan, Pa., and Coudersport, Pa., and a distribution center in Sacramento, Calif.

Digital Equipment Corp. said Sunday it will now call its personal computer line Venturis and will sell a model priced at less than $900. It also cut PC prices by as much as 22 percent.

Kellogg Co. said it will take a pretax charge of as much as $150 million to close three European factories in Latvia, Denmark and Italy.

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