The good turn-of-the-year news from Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA was that its debt at November 30 had fallen by $73m to the equivalent of $1.91bn from $1.98bn at the end of October, the bad news was that the company failed to make good on its promise to find a buyer for the ravaged personal computer business by the turn of the year. Latest word on that is only that negotiations have been held with several multinationals, but that they are on hold because there is no agreement on price – a figure of $100m has been mentioned as the eventual price, but it would be hard for most personal computer manufacturers to justify paying more than a nominal dollar for the business – it’s a fine balance whether they would be better off adding expensive volume (it is not easy to shed surplus labor in Italy) or simply have a competitor disappear from the market. And none of the companies that could benefit from a big jump in volume – such as Tulip Computers NV – is in any position to buy the company. Klesch & Co is reported to have walked away from a deal. As for the slim reduction in debt at Olivetti, this does not include proceeds from the sale of an 8.26% stake in its unit Omnitel Sistem Radiocellulari to Bell Atlantic Corp. The Bell paid about $265m for the shares at the turn of the year, and an extra $18.6m by 2001 – half by midyear – if pre-set conditions are met. The company said it achieved the reduction in debt because it was able to sell $280m in accounts receivables via securitization and factoring operations, but it also won deferment on $44m of its accounts payable.