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BUSINESS TODAY

SOUTHERN EXCHANGE ADDS BANK: Southern Exchange Bank has agreed to buy the Florida Bank of Commerce of Pinellas County, capping off a three-year growth spree for Tampa's oldest bank. Terms were not disclosed. Under the agreement, Southern Exchange will add Florida Bank's $60-million in assets, pushing its total assets to about $510-million. Florida Bank of Commerce has full-service branches in Largo and Palm Harbor and a loan processing office in Oldsmar. Southern Exchange, chartered in 1923, has grown from five branches to 19 since 1998.

AIRLINE SHUTS DOWN: Canada's second-largest airline has grounded its planes just hours after it was granted protection from creditors and said it would continue flying. Canada 3000, which flew within Canada and to Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico and the South Pacific, issued a two-paragraph statement before dawn that said flying operations ceased Friday. Calls to the airline's head office were answered by a recorded message that flights had ceased. Canada 3000 was granted protection from creditors Thursday after failing to reach a deal with its unions that would have cut hundreds of jobs. It said it was losing $460,000 a day and was almost out of cash.

VERIZON WIRELESS IPO: Verizon Wireless Inc. plans to go ahead with its initial public offering of stock, likely by mid-2002. In October 2000, the company delayed its IPO due to volatile market conditions that pounded the share prices of rival mobile phone companies. The IPO had been slated to raise up to $5-billion. Verizon detailed its plans in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

TRIAL DATE SET IN MICROSOFT CASE: The judge in the Microsoft Corp. antitrust trial formally set the case to proceed early next year for the nine states that rejected a settlement with the software giant and the Justice Department. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly set the next courtroom hearing for March 4. Those states must decide what sanctions the judge should impose on Microsoft, which earlier was found to have violated federal competition laws.

KMART CFO RESIGNS: Kmart Corp. said Jeffrey Boyer has quit as chief financial officer. The retailer said Boyer, who leaves after just six months on the job, resigned to spend more time with his family. He was replaced by treasurer John T. McDonald Jr., effective immediately.

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