Business & Finance

Conseco Inc. was poised to emerge from Chapter 11 protection after a bankruptcy court in Chicago OK'd the insurer's reorganization plan Tuesday, along with a related proposal to sell its money-losing consumer-finance unit. Bondholders will assume a 90 percent equity stake in the company, based near Indianapolis. Conseco's $7 billion bankruptcy filing in December was the third-largest in US corporate history.

Critical hearings opened Wednesday in California's Public Utilities Commission on a bailout plan for Pacific Gas & Electric that would allow it to continue charging above-market rates through 2012. Company executives say they're optimistic that if the plan is OK'd, they can emerge from bankruptcy early next year with a high enough credit rating to borrow the $7.7 billion needed to repay creditors. But consumer-advocacy and manufacturing groups vowed to contest the plan as overly favorable to shareholders. The PG&E Corp. subsidiary was forced into bankruptcy two years ago after it was barred from passing soaring wholesale costs on to customers during the state's energy crisis.

In layoff news:

• Another 1,000 jobs will be cut by 3Com Corp., the struggling maker of telecommunications networking equipment said. The company said it has decided to outsource all manufacturing operations and will close its assembly plant in Dublin, Ireland, in February. Over the past three years, 3Com has reduced its workforce from more than 10,000 employees to about 3,000.

• Supervalu Inc., a leading grocery wholesaler and operator of supermarkets, announced plans to close a warehouse in Massillon, Ohio, resulting in the loss of 850 jobs. The company is based in Eden Prairie, Minn.

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