Calif. orders insurance refundCalifornia's outgoing...

BUSINESS DIGEST

November 23, 1994

Calif. orders insurance refund

California's outgoing insurance commissioner, John Garamendi, yesterday ordered 28 insurance firms to refund $1.25 billion to customers, his second big effort to enforce controversial Proposition 103. The 1988 law ordered firms selling auto, homeowners' and several other types of insurance to roll back rates 20 percent after state officials found they were overcharging.

OPEC agrees on output

Cash-strapped OPEC producers yesterday clinched a deal on 1995 oil production, agreeing to maintain their combined output unchanged for the next year at 24.52 million barrels a day. The rare unanimous decision was rewarded in the oil markets, which have now driven prices up 30 cents a barrel since last Friday.

Probe of Microsoft intensifies

The Justice Department has intensified an antitrust investigation of Microsoft Corp.'s plan to buy its way into dominance of personal finance software. Microsoft's proposed $1.5 billion purchase of Intuit Inc., the maker of Quicken, would give it the most popular personal finance, budgeting and bill-paying software. The Justice Department's second request for information could delay completion of the deal by months.

Bell, Nynex to sell cellular units

In order to make way for the merger of their cellular businesses, Bell Atlantic Corp. and Nynex Corp. said yesterday they will sell cellular properties in three New England states to Southern New England Telecommunications Corp., one of the nation's largest independent local phone companies, for a combined $450 million. The Bell Atlantic properties to be purchased cover all of Rhode Island and the New Bedford, Mass., area.

Orion launch aborted

An Atlas rocket launch from Cape Canaveral that would have put Rockville-based Orion Network Systems' first communications satellite into space was aborted four seconds before liftoff yesterday when a system malfunctioned. Martin Marietta Corp., the Bethesda-based company that built the rocket, said the launch will not be rescheduled until the reason for the failure is fully understood.

Bank alters commissions

NationsBank Corp. has decided to halt the controversial practice of paying its brokers commissions up to 50 percent higher for selling in-house mutual funds than for funds from other companies. NationsSecurities, launched in 1993 as a joint venture with Dean Witter Reynolds, has been beset by lawsuits charging it misled both its customers and its brokers. NationsBank bought out Dean Witter's 50 percent interest in NationsSecurities this month.

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