Comcast begins sale of Nextel stakeComcast Corp....

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Comcast begins sale of Nextel stake

Comcast Corp. started selling its entire 11.2 million-share stake in Nextel Communications Inc., Nextel officials and an analyst said.

Cable TV giant Comcast is selling the stake, about 11 percent of Nextel's shares outstanding, to resolve potential conflicts with another partnership consisting of Sprint Corp., Tele-Communications Inc. and Cox Communications Inc., analysts said. Comcast could make as much as $86.8 million from the sale.

Aetna to set aside $750 million

Aetna Life & Casualty Co. said yesterday that it will set aside $750 million to pay claims to clean hazardous waste, reducing its second-quarter earnings by $488 million, or $4.31 a share.

The insurer said it will purchase $335 million in reinsurance to cover additional costs and that it plans to replenish about $450 million of capital in its property and casualty business by the end of the year.

The move is the result of a study to determine Aetna's potential losses from paying policyholders' costs for cleaning up polluted land and damage caused by asbestos.

Vote set on Nasdaq reforms

The National Association of Securities Dealers' board will vote tomorrow on proposed reforms to the Nasdaq stock market that could result in better prices for individual investors.

The vote comes 14 months after an academic study criticized pricing practices in the nation's second-largest stock market as profiting traders at the expense of small investors. The study touched off antitrust lawsuits against brokerage firms and government investigations of Nasdaq.

A plea from Barings figure

The main figure in the collapse of Barings Bank, Britain's oldest investment bank, pleaded to be tried at home rather than be thrown "to the wolves" at a "show trial" in Singapore.

British fraud investigators responded to the plea by saying they had no evidence to warrant bringing trader Nick Leeson back to Britain.

Mercedes reaches China accord

Mercedes-Benz AG said it reached a preliminary agreement on a $1 billion joint venture to produce vans and engines in China, beating out competition from Chrysler Corp. and Ford Motor Co.

Mercedes officials said the company expects to sign a letter of intent in Bonn tomorrow with Nanfang-based South China Motor Corp. The agreement calls for Mercedes to produce 60,000 minivans and 100,000 gas and diesel engines annually.

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