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JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SEES PROBLEMS WITH CONRAIL DEAL

A proposed division of Conrail by CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corp. poses "significant competitive problems" for some electric utilities, the Justice Department said in newly filed documents.

The transaction would reduce competition in at least three markets for shipping more than $100 million worth of coal used in the generation of electricity, said Michael P. Harmonis, an attorney in the department's antitrust division.

Rather than calling for the Surface Transportation Board to block the $10 billion transaction, however, a department economist suggested the railroads be required to guarantee additional track access to competitors.

Dunlap puts Sunbeam on block
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- A year into his makeover of Sunbeam Corp., chairman Al Dunlap effectively put the home-appliance maker up for sale today.

Sunbeam hired an investment banker and Dunlap said he will consider "any and all types of transactions."

Sunbeam has retained Morgan Stanley & Co. to advise the company on its options.

Microsoft threatened Compaq
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Microsoft Corp. threatened to terminate Compaq Computer's license for its popular Windows 95 operating system after the PC maker tried to steer Internet surfers to Netscape Navigator instead of Microsoft's browser, the Justice Department alleges in court papers.

Details of that incident were cited by the department in papers filed in U.S. District Court this week accusing Microsoft of using its dominance in the software market to muscle PC manufacturers into using its Internet Explorer program.

Pataki signs phone 'slamming' bill
ALBANY (AP) -- Reacting to growing consumer complaints, Gov. Pataki has signed legislation to protect New Yorkers from getting "slammed," the practice of switching consumers' long-distance telephone companies or rates without their consent.

The two new laws approved Wednesday, and billed by Pataki as the first of their kind in the United States, go into effect in 90 days.

They authorize fines for slamming and prohibit the use of promotions promising prizes that actually are forms by which consumers unwittingly give authorization to change their phone service.

401(k) limit going to $10,000
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The IRS announced new cost-of-living adjustments Wednesday for retirement plans that allow workers to increase annual contributions to their nest eggs.

The annual limit on 401(k) contributions will rise on Jan. 1, 1998, from $9,500 to $10,000, the Internal Revenue Service announced.

The limit on similar deferred compensation plans for state and local governments and tax-exempt groups -- the so-called 457(b)(2) plans -- will rise from $7,500 to $8,000 next year.

Kraft exec to head Quaker
CHICAGO (AP) -- A day after stepping down as head of the Kraft Foods business at Philip Morris Cos., Robert S. Morrison was named today as the new chief executive of Quaker Oats Co.

Morrison, 55, succeeds William D. Smithburg, who announced in April he would retire at the end of the year, an apparent casualty of Quaker's disastrous experience with the Snapple beverage line, which cost it more than $1 billion in losses.

Quaker also reported its third-quarter profit fell to $77.5 million, or 58 cents a share, from $133 million, or 98 cents a share, a year ago. The earnings exceeded forecasts.

In other business news
First Union Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., the nation's sixth-largest bank, agreed Wednesday to pay $58.5 million to 239 workers who were laid off when it acquired two financial institutions. Plaintiffs said it was a record settlement of an age discrimination suit.

The number of new claims for jobless benefits jumped up by 8,000 last week, rising above 310,000 for the first time in six weeks but remaining at a level reflecting a tight labor market, the Labor Department reported today.

Frontier Telephone Corp. of Rochester must rebate $953,000 to its customers for failing to meet quality standards last year, the state Public Service Commission ruled. The rebates total a one-month reduction of $2.60.

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