Business & Finance

Bankrupt United Airlines reported a $1.3 billion loss for the first quarter Friday, its 11th straight quarterly loss and the second-largest deficit in its history. Parent company UAL Corp. cited the soft economy, the Iraq war, and the SARS virus for a slump in travel. At the same time, UAL said it has made substantial progress in its efforts to cut costs.

In a deal worth $1.5 billion, Wal-Mart Stores agreed to sell its McLane Co. grocery distribution unit Friday to Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the holding company of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Merit Distribution Services, a McLane subsidiary, is being sold separately to Swift Transportation Co. of Phoenix, Ariz., for $50 million. Meanwhile, Buffett told shareholders Saturday that Berkshire earned a record $1.7 billion in the first quarter, largely due to its insurance businesses.

A $2.14 billion deal appeared imminent between two of Europe's largest brewing companies, the Financial Times reported. It said Heineken NV of Amsterdam would assume control of Austria's Österreichische Brau-Beteiligungs-AG (known commercially as BBAG), which also markets bottled mineral waters and fruit juices. BBAG put itself up for sale in January on condition that it not lose its Austrian identity in a takeover.

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