Business & Finance

Dillard's, Inc., a leading operator of upscale department stores, said Sunday it has agreed to sell its private-label credit card subsidiary, Dillard National Bank, to GE Consumer Finance for $1.25 billion. The sum includes $400 million in assumed debt. Chief executive William Dillard II said the deal will tap the marketing expertise of GE Consumer Finance, a unit of General Electric. Dillard National Bank's 500 employees are expected to be absorbed by the buyer. Dillard's, based in Little Rock, Ark., has 329 stores in 29 states, mostly in the Sunbelt and Midwest.

British Airways (BA) appeared destined to lose its protest against an order by Italy's government that other European carriers stop offering discounted fares on competing flights with those of struggling state-owned Alitalia. The executive commission of the European Union, to which BA appealed the matter, scolded the Italian aviation authority Monday for issuing the order but conceded there's little else it can do since the move is permissible under existing aviation treaties. The Rome government gave BA, Germany's Lufthansa, and other airlines three days to raise their fares to match Alitalia's or face legal action. The government has EU approval for almost $500 million in guaranteed loans to Alitalia, which has been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy all summer.

Assets worth $1.2 billion will be auctioned off to private investors beginning Aug. 23 by China's Cinda Management Corp., the Financial Times reported. The sale is open to foreign buyers. The assets, all of which involve unpaid debts, range from material goods in the real estate, textile, and energy sectors to creditor rights to the nation's most historically important movie studio. Cinda and other asset-management companies were set up in the late 1990s to dispose of almost $180 billion in nonperforming loans issued by state-owned banks.

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