Business & Finance

Raytheon acknowledged that it is the subject of an informal inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The probe focuses on accounting practices at its commuter aircraft division between 1997 and 2001, Raytheon said. Separately, the company, based in Lexington, Mass., agreed to pay $4 million to settle claims by the Defense Department of overbilling for insurance.

Toy retailer FAO Inc. sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Wilmington, Del., saying it expects to file a reorganization plan after meeting with its chief creditors. The company said it plans to close 80 stores by March, mostly from its Zany Brainy operations. FAO, based in King of Prussia, Pa., also operates FAO Schwarz and The Right Start chains.

M&T Bank Corp. said it is cutting 1,100 jobs at Allfirst Financial after acquiring the Baltimore-based holding company from Allied Irish Banks PLC for $3.1 billion. The sale followed the discovery of $691 million in losses racked up by an Allfirst currency trader who has since pleaded guilty to fraud. Allfirst has 260 branches in Maryland; Delaware; Pennsylvania; Virginia; and Washington, DC. M&T Bank is based in Buffalo, N.Y., and has 450 branches in the Northeast.

BP, the oil industry giant formerly known as British Petroleum, sold $1.3 billion worth of assets in the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico to Apache Oil Co. of Houston, the Financial Times reported.

A $1.16 billion merger that's expected to reshape the coal industry in Canada was announced by Fording Inc., Teck Cominco Ltd., and Sherritt International Corp. The combined company will be renamed Fording Canadian Coal Trust and will become the world's second-largest producer of metallurgical coal for steelmaking. The deal also ends a fierce takeover fight that began last October when Sherritt made a hostile bid for Fording. The latter tried to thwart it by pursuing a merger with Teck Cominco. Fording is based in Calgary, Alberta; Teck Cominco in Vancouver, British Columbia; and Sherritt in Toronto.

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