Business & Finance

United Airlines said it expects to ask bankruptcy court permission Monday to void its labor contracts unless employee unions agree to long-term pay and benefits concessions by then. Union chiefs have said such agreements are unlikely. If the OK is granted, the contracts would not be nullified until May 1, United said, to provide 45 more days for renegotiating terms. The carrier is aiming to cut its labor costs by $2.5 billion a year through 2008.

Philips Electronics followed through on a warning that it might close manufacturing plants, announcing its San Antonio, Texas, facility will be shut down later this year. The move is part of an overall program aimed at restoring profitability to its semiconductor division. In all, the company said it will eliminate 1,600 jobs, reduce production by 20 percent, and cut spending on research and development by $220 million.

Corus Group, the struggling metals-industry giant, conceded defeat in its attempt to sell much of its aluminum business. The company said it notified Pechiney, the French aluminum manufacturer, that their almost $1 billion deal was off. Corus's Dutch subsidiary had balked at the sale, at which point the parent company, formerly British Steel, launched an unsuccessful court challenge to force its completion.

By a 3 to 1 margin, shareholders in Six Continents PLC voted Wednesday to proceed with plans to split the hotel/restaurant business. The vote also meant a rejection of entrepreneur Hugh Osmond's request for a two-month delay to consider his unsolicited $9 billion bid for the entire company. Six Continents, which owns Inter-Continental, Crowne Plaza, and Holiday Inn hotels and several British pub chains, said the split would begin as planned April 15.

Magellan Health Services Inc., the US's largest provider of behavioral care, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing a debt of $1.47 billion, much of it accumulated in an expansion program in the late 1990s. The Columbia, Md., company said it did not expect to cut jobs.

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