Business & Finance

Three buyers have agreed to pay a combined $5.3 billion for Rodamco North America, one of the world's leading owners of upscale shopping malls, the company said. Almost half will go to Westfield America Inc., an Australian-owned real estate investment trust that operates 39 US malls, has agreements to purchase five others, and was a partner in New York's devastated World Trade Center. The other buyers are Simon Property Group of Indianapolis and Columbia, Md.-based Rouse Co. Rodamco, whose headquarters are in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, owns such properties as Boston's Copley Place, the Galleria in Houston, and Century City in Los Angeles.

In a deal valued at $1.13 billion, Raytheon said it will sell a division that installs surveillance and other electronic equipment on aircraft to New York-based L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. The unit, Aircraft Integration Systems, operates plants in Greenville and Waco, Texas, and Lexington, Ky. Raytheon, whose headquarters are in Lexington, Mass., is expected to use the proceeds from the sale to help pay down $8.8 billion in debt.

A 10-year plan to spend $48 billion on rebuilding and modernizing the struggling national rail system was announced by the British government, although it conceded that matching private investment likely will be difficult to raise. The system, which has been called Europe's worst, was forced into bankruptcy last October. It has been dogged by a series of crashes, delays caused by emergency repairs, and strikes, all of which have sapped public confidence. The government's Strategic Rail Authority estimates the overhaul will cost up to $101 billion.

Last year set records for both the number of companies defaulting on debt and the amount owed, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor's reported. Worldwide, it said, 211 companies - 162 of them from the US - left $115.4 billion unpaid. Among the leaders: Enron and two major California utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. The old records, 132 defaulters and $42.3 billion in debt, were set in 2000.

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