Business & Finance

United Airlines said it met a key target set by lenders, holding net losses to $749 million in January and February and making progress on restructuring. The bankrupt carrier acknowledged, however, that a slump in travel due to the war in Iraq posed a serious challenge to its efforts. In addition to seeking $2.5 billion in labor concessions from unions, United has joined industry rivals in pressing for urgent federal aid.

WorldCom Inc. reported a $188 million profit in January, the first since its record bankruptcy filing last summer. The black ink came despite a further $2 billion drop in sales, and telecommunications analysts attributed it to intensive cost-cutting by chief executive Michael Capellas. WorldCom owns MCI, a leading long-distance carrier.

Hotel/restaurant giant Six Continents PLC rejected a "not sufficiently attractive" $4.4 billion all-cash offer for its pub division. The unidentified bidder is believed to have been British private equity specialist BC Partners Ltd. Earlier this month, Six Continents turned down an $8.8 billion bid for the entire company by hospitality-industry tycoon Hugh Osmond. Osmond has not ruled out making a new offer, perhaps for only part of the company. Six Continents operates the Holiday Inn and InterContinental hotel chains.

On the second try, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. won a $250 million federal loan regarded as critical to its emergence from bankruptcy. The states of Ohio and West Virginia had eased terms of their own loans to the integrated steelmaker after its previous application was rejected last month. The company employs about 3,800 workers in those states and in Pennsylvania.

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