Business & Finance

Stepping up pressure on its unions, United Airlines warned that if they do not agree to $2.4 billion in wage concessions by Dec. 26, the bankrupt carrier will seek court approval to void labor contracts. The president of the pilots' union said if United wants givebacks, it must provide more details of its business plan.

A warning by McDonald's Corp. of its first quarterly loss in 47 years sent share prices down sharply at the fast-food giant, which has been hard-hit by slumping sales and a price war with rival Burger King. Tuesday's close, $16.03, down $1.34, was the lowest since 1995.

General Electric said it will pay $2.06 billion for medical equipment manufacturer Instrumentarium Corp. The latter specializes in anesthesia and X-ray machines and is based in Helsinki, Finland.

Critics were scorning the $1.86 billion sale by the Russian government of its stake in Slavneft, the nation's eighth-largest oil company. The Kremlin had said it hoped to realize $3 billion from the deal, which was expected to be applied to debt repayments next year. But bidding for its 75 percent share in Slavneft was limited to seven companies, and in the end only two participated. Reports said the process was over in less than 10 minutes. The buyer, Invest-Oil, is believed to be an agent for major producers Sibneft (OAO Siberian Oil Co.) and Tyumen Oil.

Food-service giant Compass Group agreed to sell its Travelodge hotel and Little Chef restaurant chains to private equity firm Permira for $1.14 billion, The Financial Times reported. The sale, which must be OK'd by European Union regulators, would be used to fund a share buyback and reduce debt at British-based Compass.

Toy retailer FAO Inc. said a bankruptcy filing is likely, unless Wells Fargo Retail Finance LLC, its main creditor, agrees to lift new borrowing restrictions that led to a liquidity crunch. The company operates more than 250 FAO Schwarz, Zany Brainy, and Right Start stores.

ASML Holding, a world leader in chipmaking equipment, said it will lay off 1,450 workers by next July. The company's base is in the Dutch city of Veldhoven.

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