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PalmSource

Shares of PalmSource, maker of the Palm operating system for handheld computers, surged 78 percent yesterday on news that the Japanese software company, Access, had agreed to pay $324 million for it.

Access was offering $18.50 for each share of PalmSource common stock, an 83 percent premium to the stock’s Thursday closing price of $10.09. PalmSource share price rose $7.89 to close at $17.98 yesterday.

PalmSource has seen its market share erode since its separation from Palm, a darling of the tech investors in the high-flying 1990s. Microsoft and Symbian have gained in handheld operating systems.

Internal Revenue Service

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Reimbursement rate increases

The Internal Revenue Service, recognizing higher gas prices around the country, yesterday increased the mileage-reimbursement rate that workers claim when they use personal cars for work.

The decision raised the rate to 48.5 cents a mile for the last four months of the year, after which the tax agency plans to look again at gas prices and re-evaluate the rate. It had been 40.5 cents a mile.

Fannie Mae

Inquiry will be done by year-end

Fannie Mae investigators plan to complete by year-end a report into an estimated $10.8 billion in accounting errors at the government-chartered mortgage-finance company, said former U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman, who is heading the probe.

Fannie Mae’s directors last September hired Rudman, a Republican from New Hampshire, to lead an investigation after the company’s regulator determined Fannie Mae used improper “cookie jar” reserves and broke accounting rules when using financial contracts to reduce risk.

The company, following a ruling by the Securities and Exchange Commission, announced the start of an earnings restatement in December and ousted CEO Franklin Raines and CFO Timothy Howard.

Microsoft

French court sends 6 to jail for piracy

A French appeals court sentenced six people to as long as two years in jail and ordered them to pay 70,000 euros ($87,000) in damages for illegally copying Microsoft software.

The ruling yesterday by the Versailles Court of Appeals upholds a conviction last year at the first-instance tribunal in Nanterre, France. The four men and two women, who worked for two family-run software wholesalers, were found guilty of illegally selling licenses between 1997 and 1999 that allowed users to run the software on several computers at once, documents said.

France had the highest rate of software piracy in Europe last year, with an estimated 45 percent of installed programs being used illegally compared with a worldwide average of 35 percent, the Business Software Alliance, a lobbying group, said on its Web site. Microsoft had sought 20 million euros (about $25 million) in damages.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News