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Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

$120 million SEC fee resolves part of Royal Dutch/Shell case

WASHINGTON — A $120 million fine levied on Royal Dutch/Shell by the Securities and Exchange Commission resolves the company's part in the SEC inquiry into the overstatement of oil and gas reserves, but the role of individuals is still under investigation, regulators said yesterday.

The SEC and the oil giant announced that the settlement, which the company agreed to in principle last month, has been made formal. Under the accord, the world's third-largest publicly traded oil company also agreed to spend $5 million on an internal compliance program.

The $120 million civil fine is the third-largest imposed by the SEC for alleged accounting fraud, behind WorldCom's agreement to pay investors $500 million in May 2003, and $150 million in a fine and restitution by Bristol-Myers Squibb announced earlier this month.

Delta Air Lines

More financial info sought by creditors

ATLANTA — Some of Delta Air Lines' creditors are insisting the struggling carrier provide more information on its turnaround plan before they will respond to the company's proposal for more flexibility in restructuring its debt.

A panel of 34 financial institutions holding roughly $1.3 billion of Delta debt said yesterday that it wants substantial information on the company's business plan, financial condition and restructuring plan.

The committee said it thinks other debtholders also will seek the information before responding to Delta's debt proposal.

Delta spokeswoman Peggy Estes said the airline had no comment.

Chicago Board Options Exchange

Justice investigates antitrust allegations

NEW YORK — The U.S. Justice Department is investigating possible antitrust violations at the Chicago Board Options Exchange and the American Stock Exchange, according to the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) annual report.

Antitrust regulators are probing an alleged "product allocation agreement" between the CBOE and Amex, but the report provided no further details. Both the CBOE and the NASD-owned Amex deal in options contracts on equities.

Neither CBOE nor Amex would comment, but both said they were cooperating with the investigation. A Justice official refused to comment.

UFJ Holdings

Sumitomo offers $29 billion deal

TOKYO — Pushing ahead in its unsolicited pursuit of UFJ Holdings, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group yesterday offered to buy the smaller Japanese bank for stock valued at more than $29 billion despite UFJ's agreement to merge with Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group.

A merger of UFJ with either of the two larger Japanese banks would create the world's biggest bank.

The Sumitomo Mitsui offer was made almost two weeks after UFJ and Mitsubishi Tokyo announced they would combine operations by October 2005.

Compiled from The Associated Press

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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