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News Briefs

Colorful New $20 Bill Released Into Circulation

COX NEWS SERVICE -- WASHINGTON

With the purchase of stamps at a capital post office, a newly redesigned and colorful $20 bill was put into service Thursday.

The new note is the first in a series aimed at making counterfeiting more difficult.

James Brent of Haymarket, Va., holding his 3-year-old daughter Tyler, made the purchase on the first day banks can receive the new $20 bill from the Federal Reserve. Symbolic first purchases were made at 30 other locations around the country.

The redesigned $20 note is the most secure bill produced by the United States, said Brent, head of currency production for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

“Its enhanced security will help ensure that our currency continues to represent value, trust and confidence to people all over the world,” he said.

The biggest change is the addition of subtle shades of green, peach and blue in the background, the first use of color on U.S. currency since 1905.

GE and Vivendi Agree on Terms Of NBC Universal Merger

THE NEW YORK TIMES

General Electric, owner of television’s most profitable network, NBC, finalized its agreement on Wednesday to acquire the entertainment assets of Vivendi Universal in a deal that executives said would create a new entertainment conglomerate better able to compete with media giants like Viacom, Time Warner, the Walt Disney Co. and the News Corp.

The new entity, to be called NBC Universal, will be 80 percent owned by GE with Vivendi retaining the other 20 percent. Under the deal, which still awaits government approval, investors in the debt-laden Vivendi, which had conducted a widely publicized auction to divest itself of its movie, cable and television production holdings, will receive $3.8 billion in cash through the issuance of about 125 million shares in GE stock. GE would also assume $1.7 billion in debt. (Shares of GE closed down 53 cents, to $30.20; the American depository receipts of Vivendi were down 4 cents, to $19.17.)

NBC would add Universal’s movie and television studios, theme parks, and three cable channels to its media assets, bringing a total value to the new enterprise that GE executives estimated at $43 billion.

Robert Wright, the NBC chairman, who will become the chief executive of the new company, called it “without question” the most significant acquisition that NBC has ever made. “It is a smart strategic deal, and we think this business is positioned very well for the long term.”