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Cendant Corp. agreed to pay $2.8 billion to settle a shareholder lawsuit accusing it of fraud. The marketing and franchising company - whose brands include Days Inn and Ramada hotels, the Avis car-rental agency, and real estate brokerage Century 21 - saw its stock price plummet last year after announcing accounting irregularities that forced it to restate earnings from 1995 to mid-1998. In addition to a cash reimbursement for certain shareholders, the settlement requires Cendant to set up an audit board of independent directors.

A joint venture between Microsoft and Ericsson, the Swedish telecommunications giant, was announced in Stockholm. In a statement, Ericsson said the two companies will develop systems that allow users to stay in touch via mobile phone and the Internet - to include e-mail, personal files, and other types of data - while on the move. The announcement confirmed rumors that Microsoft has been seeking a foothold in the mobile-phone industry. Ericsson, Sweden's largest company, will hold majority interest in the new venture, the announcement said.

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