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Apple South Inc. said Tuesday it plans to sell its 264 Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar restaurants and instead focus on its faster growing chains.

All the restaurants are expected to be sold within 18 months, the company said. The chain's franchiser, Applebee's International Inc., will buy 31 of the restaurants in Virginia.

Apple South will sell its 31 restaurants in Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke and Charlottesville, Va., to Applebee's International for $93.4 million.

The company also signed three letters of intent for the sale of 61 Applebee's restaurants in Mississippi, Tennessee and Washington, D.C., for $115 million. Those purchasers were not disclosed.

The deals will leave Apple South with Don Pablo's, Harrigan's Grill and Bar, Hops Restaurant Bar & Brewery, Canyon Cafe and McCormick & Schmick's seafood restaurants.

MCI hits Bell Atlantic

WASHINGTON (AP) -- MCI accused Bell Atlantic on Monday of breaking a pledge to federal regulators to charge it reasonable fees for hooking into local phone networks.

In a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission, MCI accused Bell Atlantic of violating an agreement with the government that paved the way for Bell Atlantic's takeover of another regional Bell company, Nynex, in August.

MCI, the nation's second-largest long-distance carrier, contends that Bell Atlantic wants to charge it and other potential rivals more than they should be paying under the FCC agreement. That agreement doesn't stipulate specific prices for network access, but does lay out general pricing standards.

Avis to pay out $3.3 million

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) -- Avis Inc. has agreed to pay nearly $3.3 million to settle claims that it failed to do anything about a franchise owner accused of discriminating against black customers.

The settlement announced Monday does not affect customer claims against New Hanover Rent-A-Car, the Wilmington-based Avis franchise owned by John Dalton.

The federal class-action lawsuit filed last year claims blacks repeatedly were denied car rentals at five New Hanover locations in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Ford recalling 47,500 vehicles

DETROIT (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. on Monday announced a voluntary recall of 47,500 vehicles, most of which were F-Series pickup trucks being recalled because of a tire concern.

No accidents or injuries have been reported from the affected vehicles, Ford said.

The largest recall involved about 29,700 1997 F-250, F-350 and F-Super Duty trucks. The trucks may have tires that were cut during the assembly mounting process and could lead to sidewall bulging and eventually flat tires.

Another 3,100 1998 Ranger pickups equipped with 4.0-liter engines were recalled because of a fuel line concern. The problem could cause a fuel leak, Ford said.

About 8,300 1998 Mustang GTs with 4.6-liter engines were being recalled because of a problem that also could result in a fuel leak.

Yields mixed on T-bills, notes

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Interest rates on short-term Treasury securities rose in Monday's auction.

The Treasury Department sold $7.26 billion in three-month bills at an average discount rate of 5.295 percent, up from 5.07 percent last week.

Another $7.27 billion was sold in six-month bills at an average rate of 5.315 percent, up from 5.175 percent.

The Federal Reserve said Monday the average yield for one-year Treasury bills fell to 5.49 percent last week from 5.53 percent the previous week.

Yields on two-year Treasury notes also fell. The high yield was 5.69 percent, down from 5.7 percent at the last auction on Nov. 24.

In other business news

AT&T Corp. said today it is selling its customer services unit, AT&T Solutions Customer Care, to Cincinnati Bell Inc. for $650 million.

The United Steelworkers of America reached tentative agreement with Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Manufacturing to end a two-month strike.

Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner, who recently cashed in stock options worth more than $500 million, also got a 23 percent pay raise this year, to $10.65 million in fiscal 1997 from $8.65 million in fiscal 1996.

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