Business & Finance

A merger of US Airways and America West could occur

almost any day now, David Bronner, chairman of US Airways said in an interview with Bloomberg News Wednesday. Bronner said talks between the two are complicated by a "bunch of moving pieces," including the involvement of General Electric Co., the largest creditor of both airlines, and the US Air Transportation Stabilization Board. A merger, if completed, would produce the nation's sixth largest US airline and create more East-West flying business for US Airways, which currently concentrates on North-South routes in the East.

Allstate, the second-largest US property and casualty

insurer after State Farm, will stop writing commercial insurance policies in Florida and won't renew 95,000 residential homeowner policies, a decision being made because of the four hurricanes that slammed Florida last year, the company announced Wednesday. The company will continue to write new homeowner policies where it sees fit and said it has taken steps to ensure homeowners and businesses won't be left without insurance. Allstate, which is based in Northbrook, Ill., paid about $2 billion in claims after Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne battered Florida in 2004.

Motorola Inc. said its board has authorized the repur chase of up to $4 billion of its common stock over the next three years in the company's first buyback program. In a statement Wednesday, Chief Executive Edward Zander said the balance sheet and large free cash flow of the Schaumburg, Ill., company allows it "the flexibility to simultaneously invest in our current business."

A Florida jury Wednesday awarded $850 million in punitive damages to billionaire financier Ron Perelman, this on top of $604.3 million in compensatory damages the court said Monday were owed him by investment firm Morgan Stanley. Perelman claimed Morgan Stanley acted fraudulently in his1998 sale of Perelman's Coleman camping equipment company to Sunbeam Corp. Morgan Stanley plans to appeal and pledged that the verdict would not impede its business. Sunbeam filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001 after its financial troubles were discovered, and Perelman alleged he had lost millions because 14.1 million shares of Sunbeam stock he received in the deal plunged in value.

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