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Briefs (left)

Violence Flares as Congo
Tallies Election Results

By Jeffrey Gettleman

Election workers started tacking up results Monday from Congo’s presidential election runoff, as violence continued to flare across the country.

UN officials said a drunken army sergeant shot and killed two election workers in Goma, in eastern Congo, inciting riots in which 43 polling stations were destroyed and thousands of ballots were burned.

In Kinshasa, the capital, the first official results were posted on schoolhouse doors, showing a tight race between Joseph Kabila, the incumbent president, and Jean-Pierre Bemba, a businessman and militia leader accused of war crimes.

The election took place Sunday, and so far, seems to be following the pattern of the first round in July, when Kabila won big in the east and Bemba carried the west, narrowly preventing Kabila from winning an outright majority.

“It’s going to be close, but Kabila will pull it out,” said Sadin Banza, the president of the League of Voters, an independent Congolese election monitoring organization with 1,650 observers across the country.

Banza said preliminary results telephoned in from across the country indicated that turnout dropped sharply from the first round of voting, when 70 percent of Congo’s voters cast ballots.

Verizon Earnings Up
In Third Quarter

By Ken Belson

Verizon Communications said Monday that its earnings grew 2.8 percent in the third quarter, driven largely by its mobile phone company, Verizon Wireless, which overtook Cingular Wireless as the nation’s largest mobile phone carrier ranked by revenue.

Verizon earned $1.92 billion, or 66 cents a share, compared with $1.87 billion, or 67 cents, in the third quarter last year. Sales reached $23.3 billion, a 26 percent increase compared with the period in 2005, before the company absorbed the long-distance carrier MCI last January.

Despite the growth, Verizon’s shares fell $1.19, or 3.1 percent, to $37.65 on Monday as investors focused on a decline in the company’s local phone lines and on the effect of its new fiber optic network on profits.

Verizon said the fiber network, which will cost about $20 billion to build, would reduce 2006 profit by 31 cents to 32 cents a share, instead of the 28 cents to 30 cents a share the company had forecast earlier.

French Company Buys American
Power Conversion of Rhode Island

By Heather Timmons

Schneider Electric, a French manufacturer of components used in power distribution systems, said Monday that it would buy American Power Conversion, a Rhode Island company that makes similar products, for $6.1 billion.

Schneider Electric, which does most of its business in Europe and North America, agreed to pay $31 a share for American Power, a 30 percent premium over its closing price on Friday.

American Power sells products that protect homes and businesses from power failures and power surges.

“We expect this transaction to generate significant value by leveraging the unique complementary strengths of the two companies,” Jean-Pascal Tricoire, chief executive of Schneider Electric, said in a news release. Schneider Electric said it planned to improve American Power’s profitability, particularly in larger products, where it has had to make significant investments to keep up with demand. Schneider Electric has its own unit for large power projects.