Business & Finance

HealthSouth Corp. was seeking a 30-day commitment from creditors not to force it into bankruptcy while interim management prepares new corporate-governance guidelines, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Securities and Exchange Commission accuses the health services provider and ex-chairman Richard Scrushy of inflating profits by $2.5 billion since 1997. Eight former executives already have pleaded guilty to fraud charges in the case.

The $2.96 billion sale of mining giant MIM Holdings Ltd. to British-Swiss rival Xstrata appeared imminent. The merger would make Xstrata the third-largest exporter of coal in the world, but analysts said the key to the deal was lessening the company's need for access to mines in South Africa. New government policy there calls for higher taxes on the extraction of minerals and the transfer of one-quarter ownership of mines to blacks as compensation for decades of discrimination under apartheid. MIM is based in Brisbane, Australia; Xstrata in Zug, Switzerland.

Robert Bosch, one of the world's largest makers of auto parts, renewed its efforts to diversify by bidding $1.6 billion for Buderus AG, a leader in the field of heating technology. A similar attempt last year failed when the sides broke off negotiations, but a Buderus spokesman termed the latest move "certainly a good offer." Both companies are German.

Bids will be accepted through the end of this week for German media giant Bertelsmann's academic/professional publishing division, the company announced. The unit, BertelsmannSpringer, produces books, journals, CD-ROMs for the scientific and medical fields, and databases in 16 countries. A Bertelsman spokesman said the proceeds from the sale - a hoped-for $1 billion - would be used to lower the company's debt.

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