Business & Finance

Kmart Corp. submitted a five-year reorganization plan for bankruptcy court approval, outlining plans to return to profitability in fiscal 2004 with a $293 million infusion from hedge fund ESL Investments Inc. of Connecticut and Third Avenue Trust of New York. The discount retailer hopes to emerge from bankruptcy by April 30. In a separate filing, Kmart said an internal review found evidence of wrongdoing by some former executives. Issues under scrutiny included $29 million in retention loans and alleged use of company jets for personal travel.

E-Trade Group's chairman and chief of online brokerage, Christos Cotsakos, stepped down Friday, the latest in a series of high-profile executive departures at lagging firms. His resignation followed a 53 percent drop in the value of E-Trade stock last year and his controversial - and later reduced - $80 million compensation package in 2001.

Citing an inability to emerge from $4 billion in debt, National Century Financial Enterprises Inc., which supplied financing for healthcare providers, announced it will cease operations. The company filed for bankruptcy in November after an FBI raid on its offices in Columbus, Ohio.

Raytheon, the fourth-largest US defense contractor, announced 600 layoffs in its aircraft division and posted a $15 million loss for the fourth quarter - far narrower than its $162 million loss during the same period in 2001.

Giovanni Agnelli, who died Friday, was the patriarch of Fiat, the huge Italian industrial conglomerate, and was so respected as a symbol of the country's post-World War II recovery that tens of thousands of people turned out for his funeral in Turin, which was broadcast live on national television. But his passing came before a solution could be found to the financial crisis in the 104-year-old company's automaking division that has dragged down the value of Fiat stock by almost 80 percent over the past four years.

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