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Business in brief: Bids requested for helicopters

The Air Force will request new bids for a $15 billion contract awarded to Boeing Co. last November to replace 141 search-and-rescue helicopters used in combat.

The deal was put on hold after protests were filed by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp., the losing bidders.

In two sets of protests filed the past year and backed by the Government Accountability Office watchdog agency, the companies questioned the clarity of the Air Force’s original requests for bids.

On Wednesday, the Air Force confirmed it had given revised drafts for bids to all three companies, which have just over a week to identify any problems.

The proposed revisions, experts say, mean that the contract winner could be someone other than Chicago-based Boeing because resubmitted bids will be permitted to make major changes on everything from price to helicopter specifications. However, the revisions fall short of reopening the competition.


Microsoft ends antitrust dispute

Microsoft Corp. said Wednesday it had withdrawn the two last challenges to an EU antitrust order – a move that shuts the book on its past legal fights and lets it focus on avoiding future trouble with European regulators.

After a battle with the European Commission that lasted for years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, the world’s largest software maker yielded Monday when it pledged to comply with key parts of a 2004 antitrust decision that an appeals court upheld last month.

Microsoft said Wednesday that it told the EU’s appeals court it was dropping a challenge to the 280.5 million euros ($357 million) fine that regulators imposed in July 2006 for not complying with an earlier demand that it share technical information with rivals.

It also withdrew a second appeal that asked the EU’s Court of First Instance to annul the commission’s order that Microsoft license its intellectual property to open source systems such as Linux.


Credit cards compromised

At least 94 million Visa and MasterCard accounts may have been exposed to potential fraud in a data breach at TJX Cos., more than double the previous estimate by the discount retailer.

The figure was included in court filings this week that cited officials from the two biggest credit card associations.

The filings in a bank case against TJX indicated that fraud-related losses involving Visa cards alone range from $68 million to $83 million, spread across 13 countries.

“These are going to be sold off for a period of time in the future, so it’s going to continue for some time out there,” Joseph Majka, Visa USA’s vice president of investigations and fraud management, said in court documents unsealed late Tuesday.

Even before the latest numbers, independent organizations that track data breaches had called the case the largest ever.


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