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Financial briefs

Stock of Atari Corp. rose 11% Friday after media giant Time Warner Inc. bought an additional 2% stake in the multimedia entertainment company for $ 12. 75 million. Atari stock closed up 75 cents at $ 7.25 on the American Stock Exchange, where it was one of the most heavily traded issues. Time Warner closed 37.5 cents lower at $ 41.375 on the New York Stock Exchange. Time Warner bought 1.5 million common shares of the Sunnyvale-based company for $ 8.50 a share, raising the media giant’s stake to 27% from 25%, Atari said.

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The Walt Disney Co., facing continued losses at Euro Disney, is tightening eligibility for retirement health-care benefits for its 70,000 employees. Under a new rule which took effect March 1, workers must stay with the company until they are 55 years old to be eligible for benefits after they retire. The rule was added to a requirement that employees work a minimum 30,000 hours over 20 years. Retired workers previously were eligible for benefits regardless of age. Hourly workers younger than 55 have until July 1 to take early retirement under the old system or be subject to the new rule.

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The stock of America Online Inc., a rapidly growing computer network service, whipsawed in volatile trading last week as rumors that the company is a potential takeover target swirled through the market. The Vienna, Va.-based company reiterated Thursday that it would remain independent. Analysts said there appeared to be no specific offers for America Online, and the company moved last week to squelch the market rumors, stating that speculation it was being acquired is “without substance.” America Online provides electronic mail, software packages, news and information and other services to subscribers’ computers. The online service recently hit the 700,000 subscriber mark. The company has more than doubled in size the past year.

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A network is in the making to connect videogame machines from Canada to Mexico so players can rank their skills against the best of the joystick set. The trade association for coin-operated videogame owners Canadian firm TVphone Inc. and Electronic Data Systems Corp. have formed an alliance to connect videogame machines across the United States and eventually throughout Mexico and Canada. Ohio and Kansas will be the pilot-test states. The network is expected to link more than 100,000 games within five years. Players will be able to enter local, regional or national tournaments in which they can match their scores against other players. Advertisers will be able to display ads on the videogame machines.

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