BRIEFS Global Crossing auction postponed

NEW YORK -- The bankruptcy auction to buy Global Crossing's vast fiber-optic network and other assets was postponed again Wednesday, the second such delay in as many weeks.

The decision to put off the auction for another two days comes amid increasing speculation about likely bidders for the world's most extensive data network -- and with the ongoing technology meltdown, probably one of the most underutilized.

Despite the delay, Global Crossing still expects that a winning bid will be chosen in time to seek court approval at a bankruptcy hearing scheduled for Aug. 7.

GE to start counting stock options

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- General Electric Co. announced Wednesday it will start counting employee stock options as expenses in its earnings reports, joining other major companies adopting the practice after a wave of accounting scandals.


As one of the world's most valuable companies, GE's move adds momentum to an issue that has gained urgency as a result of the scandals.

GE said it will expense the fair value of employee stock options starting this quarter. The move will reduce this year's net income by less than $30 million, or less than one cent per share.

Merger to create largest black-owned bank

LOS ANGELES -- Boston Bank of Commerce and Family Savings Bank have agreed to merge, a deal that will create the nation's largest black-owned bank, the banks confirmed Wednesday.

The combined entity will have about $460 million in assets.

The deal is aimed at establishing a nationwide network of banks in black neighborhoods.

Last year, Boston Bank merged with Founders National Bank, whose celebrity shareholders include former Los Angeles Laker Earvin "Magic" Johnson, singer Janet Jackson, and former Motown Records president Jheryl Busby.

Reliant Resources shares drop 19%


HOUSTON -- Shares of Reliant Resources Inc. fell more than 19 percent Wednesday after the energy merchant's debt was downgraded to junk status by Moody's Investors Service.

The company said it was being unfairly lumped with other, troubled energy companies. It said its liquidity and business fundamentals remain solid.

Moody's, however, expressed concern whether the company could generate enough cash flow to meet debt requirements coming due next year. The company must refinance about $2.9 billion in bridge bank financing next February and $800 million of its $1.6 billion revolving credit line six months later.

Verizon reports $2.1 billion loss

NEW YORK -- Infected by the same malaise that has sickened the entire telecom sector, Verizon Communications Inc. posted a $2.12 billion net loss on Wednesday, after being hit with an earnings charge, weak demand and tough competition.

The company also cut its earnings and revenue outlook for the year. New York-based Verizon is the nation's largest local telephone carrier and a major provider of long-distance and cellular service.

For the second quarter, Verizon lost 78 cents a share, compared with a $1.02 billion loss, or 38 cents a share, a year earlier.

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