Business & Finance

Budget Group Inc. became the latest rental-car operator to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. But the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based company said it has won $850 million in new loans to continue in business as it reorganizes and does not expect to furlough any employees or close any of its 6,500 locations. The company also rents trucks and vans under the Ryder brand name. Last November, rival ANC Rental Corp., which operates Alamo Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental, also filed for bankruptcy.

Vanguard Airlines will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, an announcement said. The low-fare, Kansas City, Mo.-based carrier also suspended operations and said it will lay off almost all of its 1,100 employees. Now in its eighth year, Vanguard has never returned a profit. Last May, it sought a federally backed loan under the program created by Congress to help the industry recover from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But its request was denied. A follow-up application has yet to be acted on, reports said.

Energy trader Dynegy Inc. sold its prize Northern Natural Gas pipeline to MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. for $928 million. Mid-American, controlled by billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., also agreed to assume $950 million in debt for the 16,600-mile pipeline, its second such acquisition since March. Houston-based Dynegy bought the pipeline from bankrupt rival Enron in January for $1.5 billion but now confronts the prospect of declaring bankruptcy itself amid federal inquiries into its accounting practices and a 97 percent drop in stock value this year.

Nissan Motor Co. will advance its timetable for selling fuel-cell cars to next year to compete with Japanese rivals Toyota and Honda, it announced. The move represents a two-year speed-up of the company's original plan. Toyota and Honda both plan to market limited numbers of fuel-cell vehicles by the end of this year while acknowledging that their unit costs will be high at first. Most other major automakers are pledged to market fuel cells by 2004.

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