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Bankrupt United Airlines will lay off nearly 1,700 more workers and shut down its US ticket offices in a costcutting move aimed at meeting strict requirements of its Chapter 11 financing. The carrier has until Feb. 15 to significantly reduce costs or it could lose the remainder of $1.5 billion in interim financing. The layoffs will involve some 1,500 management and salaried employees whose nonunion jobs will be cut by Jan. 19. An additional 188 jobs will be lost as a result of the closure of the airline's remaining 32 city ticket offices.

General Electric Co. is facing its first national strike in more than 30 years. The company says the strike could involve about 17,500 employees at its manufacturing plants, but union officials put the figure at 20,000. Employees are protesting GE's decision to increase copayments for health insurance as of Jan. 1. GE says the increases would cost the average employee $200 a year and follow rising health-care costs. Plants in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and New York will be affected.

Securities regulators are preparing action againstformer Merrill Lynch securities analyst Henry Blodget, published reports said. The National Association of Securities Dealers signaled it would zero in on individual analysts after last month's $1.4 billion settlement with 10 top Wall Street firms, Merrill Lynch among them. Regulators had accused the firms of touting stocks in some companies with which they hoped to win lucrative investment- banking contracts.

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An $8 billion turnaround plan for struggling Fiat will be presented to the company's board within a few weeks, Italian entrepreneur and former Telecom Italia chairman Roberto Colaninno confirmed. Shares in Fiat, Italy's largest industrial firm, rose 10 percent in expectation of the deal. It reportedly would see Colaninno's investment group assume a 30 percent stake in the automaker, while the founding Agnelli family would see its stake shrink to about 20 percent.

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