Business & Finance

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Creditors found a new reason to worry about Argentina's ability to make payments on its massive debt after the International Monetary Fund announced it wouldn't release a vitally needed $1.3 billion loan installment "at this stage." President Fernando de la Rua's government had been counting on the installment, part of a $22 billion line of credit, to help meet interest payments coming due Dec. 19 and early next year on its $132 billion foreign debt. A default on debt of that size would be the largest in history by a sovereign nation and, analysts said, would have a ripple effect on an already weakened global economy. Private economists doubted the IMF would provide further aid to Argentina until it devalues the peso, but de la Rua's finance minister rejected that option and denied there was pressure to make such a move. Late last week, Argentines worried that their savings accounts would be frozen by the government drained banks of an estimated $1.1 billion.

ING, the financial services giant that last year bought two US insurance companies, ReliaStar and Aetna Financial, announced it will lay off 1,600 employees. The Dutch company acknowledged that integrating its two new acquisitions is behind schedule and said it is attempting to lower operating costs in the US by at least $250 million a year.

In a $2 billion stock swap, Millennium Pharmaceuticals said it will acquire COR Therapeutics, a developer of heart-disease treatments. COR is based in San Francisco; Millennium Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Mass.

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