Business & Finance

For the second time in two years, US Airways filed for protection from its creditors, with a hearing scheduled for today in US Bankruptcy Court in Alexandria, Va. The decision came after the nation's seventh-largest carrier was unable to win $800 million in annual cost cuts from its employees' unions that it said are necessary to remain afloat. Chairman David Bronner had warned weeks ago that the airline probably would have to liquidate if another bankruptcy was declared, but president Bruce Lakefield backed away from those comments Sunday, seeking to assure customers that there was no immediate danger of shutting down.

Sony Corp. and two private equity partners raised their bid for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to $5 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported. The electronics giant, Texas Pacific Group, and Providence Equity Partners originally offered $11.25 a share; now the offer (which includes the assumption of $2 billion in debt) is around $12. The newspaper said Time-Warner, which has been vying with Sony since April for the film studio and its vast library of titles and which once appeared to have the inside track, may drop out of the bidding if its offer of about $4.6 billion isn't accepted.

Grey Global Group, a leading advertising agency, agreed to be acquired by Britain's WPP Group for $1.52 billion in cash and stock. WPP is the world's second-largest marketing and advertising company; Grey ranks seventh. Between them, the companies service such clients as Proctor & Gamble, 3M Co., J.P. Morgan Chase, Warner Brothers, and food-marketing giant ConAgra. Analysts said they expect the merger to increase pressure on others in the industry to consolidate also.

A $3.4 billion sale of stock, the largest initial public offering in Japan in six years, was announced by electricity wholesaler J-Power. The Tokyo company is 83 percent- owned by a government fund, which will put all of its shares into the IPO.

The National Hockey League and its players' union were up against a deadline of midnight today to reach a new collective bargaining agreement or face a lockout. The situation did not look promising Sunday, when the league rejected the first proposal by the union in nearly a year - a one-time, 5 percent rollback in pay. NHL training camps normally would open later this month; the 2004-2005 season is scheduled to begin Oct. 13. (Story, page 7.)

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