Business & Finance

DaimlerChrysler, the world's No. 3 automaker, reported a $1.9 billion operating loss in its Chrysler division for 2001. But the Stuttgart, Germany-based company said its Mercedes brand returned a profit of $2.6 billion, a 3 percent rise from 2000. And, amid declining sales in the competitive US market, a three-year restructuring plan for Chrysler averted larger losses, a spokesman said. Still, some analysts question whether Chrysler will be able to meet its goal of breaking even this year.

Husky Energy Inc., a leading producer of oil and natural gas in Canada, raised eyebrows in industry circles by confirming that it is negotiating for the sale of some of its assets to state-owned PetroChina Co. for "about $4.4 billion." A Husky official declined to elaborate, other than to say "there can be no assurances" that a deal would result. PetroChina is believed to be interested only in Husky's "upstream" assets - its extensive reserves and production facilities in western Canada and off the coast of Newfoundland. The company also owns a chain of 600 gas stations and a large heavy-oil refinery at Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. Husky's majority owner is Hong Kong billionaire Li-Ka Shing, who has been linked by US intelligence to the Chinese government and military. Critics note that his Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. conglomerate operates shipping terminals at both ends of the Panama Canal and recently offered a rescue plan that would give it control of bankrupt telecommunications giant Global Crossing.

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