Other items: Cyber calls not same as phone, court rules; fraud indictment names HealthSouth ex-controller; and the new Nike CEO is given $9.1 million in stock.

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Russia’s state-controlled natural-gas giant OAO Gazprom said yesterday it had obtained large stakes in two Arctic joint-venture projects to develop major gas and oil fields, the latest in its moves to become one of the world’s largest energy companies.

State oil company Rosneft is being folded into Gazprom. Rosneft recently acquired the main production subsidiary of the beleaguered oil giant Yukos. The Rosneft-Gazprom combination will create a state-run company with reserves six times those of Exxon Mobil.


VoIP


Cyber calls not same as phone, court rules

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A Minnesota agency may not regulate calls through cyberspace as it does calls through traditional phone lines, a federal appeals court ruled.

The Dec. 22 order by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upholds a lower-court ruling and is a win for fledgling companies like Vonage Holdings of Edison, N.J., which provides Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission had argued that VoIP companies were providing phonelike service and therefore should be regulated as phone companies are. But those businesses said they provide an information service rather than a telecommunications service.

VoIP converts a phone call into packets of data, sends them across the Internet, and reassembles them into sound on the other end of a call.


HealthSouth


Fraud indictment names ex-controller

A former HealthSouth executive was indicted yesterday in a huge fraud at the rehabilitation giant, becoming the 17th person accused in what prosecutors say was a conspiracy to overstate earnings by $2.64 billion to meet Wall Street expectations.

Hannibal Sonny Crumpler, who worked as controller of HealthSouth’s operating division from 1992 until July 2000, was accused of wire fraud, mail fraud and securities fraud for allegedly working with others to falsify the company’s financial records.

Crumpler’s attorney, Michael Abbott of Atlanta, said his client denies the charges and will plead not guilty.


Nike


New CEO is given $9.1 million in stock

Nike gave its new President and Chief Executive William Perez 100,000 shares of restricted stock worth about $9.1 million, according to a regulatory filing yesterday.

Perez was appointed, effective Tuesday, to succeed the company’s legendary founder Philip Knight.

Perez was also awarded options to acquire 200,000 more Class B common shares at an exercise price of $90.85 each. Class B shares of the Beaverton, Ore., sneaker and apparel maker finished at $90.57 yesterday.

The limits on the new CEO’s restricted shares expire over three years. The stock was granted Tuesday, when Nike shares closed trading at $91.49.

Perez is also due an initial annual salary of $1.35 million, plus an annual target bonus of $1.69 million.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Dow Jones Newswires