Kerr-McGee   North Sea oil assets   reportedly near sale   Oil and gas producer Kerr-McGee is nearing a deal to sell off...

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Oil and gas producer Kerr-McGee is nearing a deal to sell off its North Sea oil assets for about $3.5 billion, according to newspaper reports.

Citing a person familiar with the talks, The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site yesterday a deal could be struck this week as the company tries to reshape itself as a primarily domestic developer of oil and natural-gas fields. The Financial Times also reported news of the talks.

Debbie Schramm, a spokeswoman at Kerr-McGee’s Oklahoma City headquarters, would not confirm or deny the reports.

Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, a shipping giant with interests in oil and gas production, is buying the bulk of the operations for about $3 billion, according to the reports, with England’s Centrica acquiring a few smaller fields for $500 million.

Kerr-McGee has been aggressively changing its business portfolio after coming under pressure from shareholders led by billionaire financier Carl Icahn, who claimed the company wasn’t properly managed.

Earlier this year, Icahn dropped a bid to sit on the Kerr-McGee board after the company agreed to sell its chemical business and to spend $4 billion to repurchase 29 percent of its shares.

Berkshire Hathaway

Regulators looking into company books

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, whose General Re unit has been investigated over its role in helping insurer American International Group misstate results, said regulators were inquiring about some of its own accounting.

In its quarterly report filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Berkshire said regulators were looking into the accounting by some of its insurance subsidiaries.

For several months, investigators have been questioning in an industrywide probe if nontraditional reinsurance products can be used to mask losses or smooth earnings.

Berkshire also said the government is questioning whether General Re or its subsidiaries “conspired with others” to misstate financial statements.

The disclosures suggest investigators may be widening their inquiry beyond General Re’s role in a 2000 reinsurance contract that helped AIG improperly increase reserves by $500 million. Two former General Re executives in June pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in the matter.

America Online

Storage firm Xdrive bought as subsidiary

America Online (AOL) has bought the online storage company Xdrive to meet the growing needs of consumers with rapidly expanding collections of digital music, photos and other files.

AOL did not disclose financial terms but said it would operate Xdrive as a wholly owned subsidiary and continue to sell storage and backup services through

The Xdrive platform will allow AOL to centralize storage for its e-mail, Web journal, photo and other services and create new options for users.

Storage needs for AOL have been growing. It recently began offering free Web-based e-mail with “” addresses and gave paid subscribers unlimited e-mail storage, instead of the previous 100 megabytes.

The expansion improves AOL’s ability to compete with Google, which jump-started a competition over e-mail services by offering more than 2 gigabytes of free storage.


Cable-TV co-op to offer technology

TiVo, whose digital-video recorders allow television viewers to skip commercials, will offer its technology to 14 million cable-TV subscribers served by members of the National Cable Television Cooperative.

The agreement allows more than 1,000 independent cable companies to make the recorders available to customers, TiVo said. The cooperative offers cable TV in rural areas not served by larger cable companies.

The agreement highlights TiVo’s effort to boost its 3.3 million subscriber base as it tries to reach profitability this year. Under the deal, the cooperative’s members will be able to offer TiVo boxes and include the cost on customers’ monthly bills.

Washington Post

Addition of local home page praised

The executive editor of says feedback from the site’s decision to offer two home pages, including one targeted at readers in the Washington, D.C., metro area, has been largely positive.

Jim Brady told, “We’re now able to do day-parting on the local page because, for the first time, we know the time zone” of readers.

That means local traffic cameras during rush hours can be featured, as well as area weather stories.

The other home page offered concentrates on national and international news and is served up to visitors whose site-registration information indicates they are outside the metro area.

Compiled from Reuters, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and MarketWatch