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Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Friday, March 24, 2000

Microsoft decision may come Tuesday

WASHINGTON -- The judge in the government antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. alerted both sides he is ready to render his verdict Tuesday unless the parties report progress toward a settlement, sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

Settlement discussions supervised by a mediator intensified this week after U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson said he has written his opinion and is ready to announce it, the sources said. Jackson, who heard arguments Feb. 22 on whether the world's largest software company violated antitrust laws, made his comments to lawyers for both sides during a meeting earlier this week in his chambers in Washington, the people said. Lawyers for both sides were prepared to go to Chicago this weekend to discuss a possible settlement with mediator Richard Posner, a federal appeals court judge.

Starwood plans Asia expansion

SINGAPORE -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc., the world's No. 1 hotel owner, said it will invest between $500 million to $1 billion in Asia Pacific, and tap growth in the region.

"For us, Asia is underweight in capital investment," said Ted Teng, president of the hotel division in Asia, "It's a long-term investment, and we want to invest $500 million to $1 billion over time." No time period for the proposed investments was given.

The company, known for its brands like Westin and Sheraton, will look to buy hotels or invest in key cities such as Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. By year end, it wants to operate 100 hotels in Asia, up from 69 now.

In other news . . .

Bullet SAN FRANCISCO -- Charles Schwab Corp.'s co-CEOs sent an unprecedented letter of apology for poor service to the biggest online broker's 6.5 million clients this week. The one-page letter acknowledges that clients have been having trouble getting through to its customer representatives. The company said it is adding 2,000 service representatives to the 7,000 it already has.

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