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AIR POLLUTION ExxonMobil to spend $571M to cut emissions Washington (AP)-ExxonMobil Corp. will spend an estimated $571 million for pollution controls at seven oil refineries in a settlement with the government and three states over alleged violations of clean air laws. The company also will pay fines totaling $8.7 million and spend $9.7 million to retrofit city buses, restore coastal habitat in Louisiana and sponsor other environmental projects around the refineries. Under the settlement, annual emissions of acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide are to be cut by 42,000 tons and those of smog-forming nitrogen oxides are to be reduced by 11,000 tons. ANTITRUST RealNetworks settles suit against Microsoft Seattle (AP)-Digital media company RealNetworks Inc. has announced a legal settlement with long-time adversary Microsoft Corp. RealNetworks said that it has reached three deals with Microsoft worth up to $761 million. That includes a $460 million up-front cash payment to settle the antitrust dispute. Another part of the agreement gives RealNetworks an additional $301 million in cash and services designed to help the company’s products reach a wider audience. Seattle-based RealNetworks sued in December 2003, accusing Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft of illegally forcing Windows users to accept Microsoft’s digital media player. Samsung to pay $300M fine for chip price-fixing Washington (AP)-South Korea-based Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and its U.S. subsidiary, Samsung Semiconductor Inc., maker of memory chips for computers and other electronic gadgets, will plead guilty to price fixing and pay a $300 million fine. The government had accused the companies of conspiring to fix prices of memory chips between April 1999 and June 2002. The victims of the alleged price-fixing were Dell Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Apple Computer Inc., International Business Machines Corp. and Gateway Inc. The investigation started in 2002, a year after memory chip prices began to climb even though the high-tech industry was in a tailspin. BREACH OF CONTRACT Bridgestone Firestone to pay Ford $240 million Nashville, Tenn. (AP)-Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire has agreed to pay $240 million to Ford Motor Co. to settle claims related to the tiremaker’s 2000 recall of defective tires. Bridgestone Firestone, the North American unit of Japan’s Bridgestone Corp., and Ford reached a settlement that will help cover the costs of the automaker’s 2001 tire-replacement program, which followed the tire recall. At least 271 people were reported killed and hundreds more injured in accidents involving Firestone ATX and AT tires, and the maker recalled 6.5 million of them. Bridgestone has spent about $440 million on recall-related costs. Bridgestone has blamed the accidents on defects in some Ford vehicles, while Ford maintains the tires were entirely at fault. Bridgestone said it severed business ties with Ford that had lasted nearly half a century in May 2001. Ford then began replacing more than 10 million Firestone tires for its own customers. REGULATORY ACTION State, feds reach $52M deal over water breaches Honolulu (AP)-Federal and state agencies have reached an agreement with the Hawaii Department of Transportation over storm water violations that will end up costing the state about $52 million. The federal consent decree announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency includes a $1 million penalty, $1 million to be spent on a new system to oversee environmental issues in the department, and $60,000 to be spent on training construction contractors in storm water controls. The department will also be required to spend an estimated $50 million over the next five years to fix federal Clean Water Act violations at the state’s airports and highways, including updating storm sewer systems for Oahu’s highways. Spitzer drops criminal charges against broker New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has announced that he is dropping criminal charges against former Banc of America Securities LLC broker Theodore Sihpol, who had been accused of helping large institutional investors illegally engage in mutual fund “late trading.” Sihpol, 38, had just settled civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission, agreeing to a $200,000 fine and a five-year ban from the securities industry. In June, Sihpol was acquitted of 29 out of 33 criminal charges brought against him by Spitzer, with a New York state jury deadlocked on the remaining four counts. Spitzer subsequently refiled those counts. He maintains that “late trading,” the practice by which brokers allowed large investors to place trades of mutual fund shares after the 4 p.m. market close, is a crime because it disadvantages smaller investors, who must wait until morning to make their trades. -New York Law Journal

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