Business & Finance

A federal bankruptcy court is to rule today on the breakup of Conseco Inc.'s money-losing consumer-finance unit. After an all-night auction in Chicago Wednesday, the company agreed to sell its $23 billion mobile-home loan portfolio to CFN Investments of New York for $700 million. Meanwhile, GE Consumer Finance offered $310 million for Mill Creek Bank, Conseco's Salt Lake City subsidiary, which offers consumer and small business loans. Conseco Finance is based in St. Paul, Minn. Last December, its parent, financial services giant Conseco Inc. of Carmel, Ind., filed the third-largest bankruptcy petition in US history.

Goodyear, the world's third-largest maker of tires, won a new $1.3 billion line of credit from two banks to help "repay certain existing facilities," The Wall Street Journal reported. The company, based in Akron, Ohio, is roughly $3.6 billion in debt and owes another $2 billion to its pension funds. The Journal identified the lenders as J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup.

A record $1.23 billion loss for 2002 was announced by Swiss Life, the troubled insurance company that is one of Europe's largest, and its chief executive said 2003 "will be another very challenging year" as well. But the carrier said it still has $2.8 billion in capital reserves and is ready to sell off its Banca del Gottardo subsidiary. Last year, Swiss Life cut hundreds of jobs, replaced its chief twice, and became the subject of an investigation by regulators into a company-run fund open only to its board members that generated almost $9 million in dividends.

The proposed $1.37 billion sale of CareFirst Blue Cross BlueShield, Maryland's largest health insurer, was blocked by state insurance commissioner Steven Larsen. He said the deal with would-be buyer Wellpoint Health Networks of Thousand Oaks, Calif., was "flawed" and wouldn't "produce fair market value." Bonuses for executives called for in the deal, Larsen said, would violate terms of a Maryland law covering conversion of a nonprofit concern to a for-profit business. An attorney for both companies said they were "deeply disappointed" at the rejection, but a coalition of senior citizens groups called it "fantastic."

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