News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols and Noel Paul

Citigroup Inc. announced a $31.1 billion stock deal to buy international lender Associates First Capital Corp., in a move to strengthen Citigroup's global business. Associates, based in Dallas, has 2,750 offices in 14 countries and is the fifth-largest consumer finance company in Japan. New York-based Citigroup is the biggest bank holding company in the US.

In a sign of the problems confronting the movie industry as the number of screens mushrooms nationwide, Englewood, Colo.-based United Artists Theater Co. filed for federal bankruptcy protection. The company said it intends to lower debt of about $720 million to about $260 million. Chief executive Kurt Hall cited "unprecedented" levels of "over-screening" in the form of $3.5 billion worth of investments in the past three years by the five top theater chains to build "megaplexes." Rivals Edwards Cinemas and Carmike Cinemas Inc. also filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this summer, and Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. warned last week it might default on its debt.

At least 5,000 jobs are expected to be lost as the world's largest supplier of sewing thread, Coats Viyella, reorganizes operations and quits the contract-clothing business, reports said. The Nottingham, England-based company owns the Van Heusen label, among others. Coats Viyella has plants in 63 countries and will concentrate on thread, citing a need for new investments that "do not make financial sense" if it were to continue making clothing.

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(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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