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Micrsoft targets small businesses

Microsoft Corp. wants to sell smaller businesses on the idea that its products can offer the traditional benefits of desktop computer software while taking advantage of growing Web-based tools.

At a Microsoft-sponsored conference in Dallas this week, the Redmond company plans to promote ways that Dynamics, its specialized applications aimed at small- and mid-sized businesses, can incorporate Web-based applications to quickly get information.

For example, an accountant who is using a Dynamics product with an Excel spreadsheet from Microsoft’s Office suite could incorporate data from a supplier via an RSS feed, technology that immediately notifies a user when new content has been added to a Web site.

Microsoft is facing intense competition from companies such as Inc., which provide specialized business software over the Internet. Such products could potentially threaten Microsoft’s desktop PC applications.

Portland General Electric said Monday it will make its divorce from Enron Corp. final on April 3, which it becomes a publicly traded company.

The move will mark the end of a decade in which Oregon’s largest utility was enmeshed in the West Coast energy shortage, nicked by the dot-com boom and bust and dragged into the accounting scandal that sent Enron, its parent, into collapse. The utility’s stock will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange, under the ticker symbol POR.

PGE, an Enron subsidiary, generates and buys electricity to serve about 775,000 customers, mainly in the northern Willamette River valley, including Portland and Salem.

•The supervisory board of drugmaker Schering AG offered its backing Monday to fellow German company Bayer AG’s 16.3 billion euro ($19.6 billion) offer for the company.

Bayer made its offer on Thursday, trumping a hostile 14.9 billion euro ($17.9 billion) offer made March 13 by a third German company, Merck KGaA. Merck said Friday it was abandoning its takeover bid.

Delta Air Lines Inc. said Monday that it has won approval for a lower interest rate from lenders of its $1.9 billion debtor-in-possession financing, saving the company $30 million a year.

The loans are designed to allow Delta to meet its business expenses while it is under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Delta, which operates the nation’s third-largest airline, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September.

Delta officials said the arrangement also will result in a lower interest in its post-petition financing from American Express Travel Related Services Co.


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