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Buying Beer, Toasting Microsoft
Heineken and Carlsberg team up to buy British brewer Scottish and Newcastle for $15 billion. Microsoft lifts the tech sector with its sunny outlook. And if your TV goes quiet on Super Bowl Sunday, it may not be the mute button.
 

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EWS AT A GLANCE

Heineken, Carlsberg snap up U.K. brewer

Scottish & Newcastle, Britain’s largest brewer and No. 6 worldwide, accepted a $15.2 billion bid from Heineken and Carlsberg, ending a three-month takeover battle. All three brewers’ shares rose in Europe early today. (Reuters) Under the deal, which will break up S&N, Carlsberg gets the operations in France, Greece, China, Vietnam, and the rapidly growing Russian market; Heineken gets the U.K., Ireland, the U.S., India, and other parts of Europe. (MarketWatch) “Carlsberg probably paid a little bit too much,” said Andy Lynch at Schroders Investment Management in London, but “it’s very good news for Scottish & Newcastle shareholders.” (Bloomberg)

Microsoft sees a rosy year ahead

Microsoft reported a 79 percent rise in quarterly profits, to $4.71 billion, exceeding analysts’ estimates. The software giant also raised its earnings guidance for the rest of its fiscal year, which ends in June, suggesting it expects not to be hit much by an economic downturn. Microsoft shares rose more than 4 percent in extended trading. (BusinessWeek.com) Strong Vista, Office, and Xbox sales buried losses in its online services. “Microsoft is still investing without much to show for it yet in the online business, but that is kind of nitpicking when you look at the results of the company over all,” said analyst Charles di Bona at Sanford C. Bernstein. (The New York Times, free registration)

Stimulus deal reached

The White House and House leaders reached agreement on a $150 billion stimulus package, putting pressure on the Senate to accept the deal as is. The package includes rebates of between $600 and $1,200, plus $300 per child, for taxpayers who earn up to $75,000, and $50 billion in business investment incentives. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) The deal also raised the cap for government-backed mortgages for a year, making it easier for people to refinance home loans of more than $417,000. “It is a nice shot in the arm,” said University of Maryland professor Peter Morici. “It reduces the likelihood of a recession, but doesn’t eliminate it.” (Los Angeles Times, free subscription)

Pepsi bets on golden silence

If silence makes you uncomfortable, a commercial Pepsi will run during the Super Bowl next Sunday might make you squirm. The ad, based on a joke popular in the deaf community, runs for 60 seconds without any sound. In it, two deaf men find their deaf friend Bob’s house by laying on the horn—his is the house that doesn’t light up. Bobbie Beth Scoggins of the National Association of the Deaf said the ad was a historic first and will leave deaf viewers in happy disbelief. “It’s a popular story and we just turned it into an advertisement,” said Pepsi supply manager Clay Broussard, who pitched the idea. “This is the PepsiCo flavor of that joke.” (AP in USA Today)
 

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