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Going public to end legacy of founder

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) said it will sell shares to the public, upending a major legacy of its founder and recently retired chairman, who insisted the defense contractor be owned by its workers.

The San Diego-based company, one of the nation’s largest employee-owned businesses, said it will sell up to $1.73 billion in common stock early next year.

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The number of shares, the exact date of the sale and the price have yet to be determined.

The company said it will use the proceeds to pay a special dividend to its employee-owners.

SAIC is enmeshed in some of the government’s most-sensitive work, from redesigning Army combat systems to bioweapons defense and improving electronic snooping for the ultrasecretive National Security Agency.


Talks with Apple aimed at iTunes

Sony Music Entertainment, the music arm of the world’s second-biggest consumer-electronics maker, is in talks to offer songs on Apple Computer’s iTunes online store in Japan, company spokesman Yasushi Ide said today.

Ide, a responding to an earlier report in Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper, said, “The Yomiuri report says by year end, but we’d like to start as soon as possible.” Ide declined to give details on the progress of the negotiations.

Apple offers more than 1 million songs on its iTunes online music store in Japan, with recordings from 15 Japanese record companies.

Sony Music, one of Japan’s biggest record labels, runs competing services on its homepage called “bitmusic” and is also the majority investor in a music-download site called Mora.


“Nintendogs” a hot-selling item

Nintendo said its new puppy-training game “Nintendogs” sold 250,000 units in its first week, making it the hottest-selling title in the United States.

Nintendo released the game, which allows players to choose, name and train their puppy, for its Nintendo DS handheld player Aug. 22.

The Nintendo DS, a dual-screen system, was released in November and had sold 1.97 million units in the United States as of July. Nintendo in mid-August cut the price of the DS by $20 to $129.99.

“Nearly 15 percent of all DS owners bought Nintendogs in just a week,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Fils-Aime said “Nintendogs,” which lists for around $29.99, and the recent DS price cuts are helping to drive sales of the handheld player.


E-stores closed for holiday upgrade

Already mired in a sales slump, Gap has closed its two most-popular Internet stores so the clothing retailer can upgrade its online operations before the pivotal holiday shopping season.

Both Gap.com and OldNavy.com have been closed for the past week, driving frustrated shoppers to other Web sites to buy clothes.

Banana Republic, another chain owned by Gap, also closed its site two days before reopening Aug. 26.

Hoping to minimize the customer inconvenience, Gap waited until after most back-to-school shopping had been finished before launching the project, a “soup-to-nuts” overhaul of its major e-commerce sites, said company spokeswoman Kris Marubio.


New e-mail feature heightens rivalries

Yahoo! added a feature that lets its e-mail users search the contents of files attached to messages, offering a function that America Online, Microsoft and Google haven’t introduced.

The new software searches e-mails and attachments and displays excerpts and links to relevant files, said Drew Garcia, a senior product manager at Yahoo!. The product also can search for photo files, he said.

The new feature heightens competition among Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft and America Online, which all offer free e-mail.

The companies are introducing new e-mail features such as advanced search and expanded storage as they vie to create brand loyalty among Web surfers.

“The mailbox could eventually become the feeding tube for all of your content,” allowing delivery of audio and video files that users are interested in, said Allen Weiner, an analyst with Gartner in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Compiled from The Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg News