Business & Finance

In an all-stock bid valued at $7.3 billion, the second-largest phone company in Europe, France Telecom, was seeking to buy the 14 percent of Orange S.A., the Continent's No. 3 provider of cellphone service, that it doesn't already own. In trading on European exchanges Monday, a share in French Telecom was worth $23.90 versus $10.52 for Orange. Government-owned France Telecom was $74.6 billion in debt as of last Dec. 31, but the company said it has since lowered that amount to $54 billion.

Despite a sweetened offer, aluminum-producing giant Alcan Inc.'s hope of taking over rival Pechiney was spurned again. The latter's board of directors voted overwhelmingly Sunday to recommend that shareholders reject the $4.35 billion bid, although noting it was "a step in the right direction ... [and we] are getting closer." Alcan's first bid, in July, was about $3.9 billion. Alcan, based in Montreal, is the industry's second-largest producer. Pechiney, whose headquarters are in Paris, makes unfinished and specialty products, among them laminated tubes for toothpaste and ointments.

A landmark New York skyscraper is being sold for a record $1.4 billion, The New York Times reported. Macklowe Properties, a leading developer in the city, agreed to buy the 50-story General Motors Building overlooking Central Park from insurer Conseco Inc. The latter is preparing to emerge later this month from the third-largest bankruptcy filing in US history. Bank of America, CBS-TV, and Estée Lauder are among the tenants in the building.

A bankruptcy court gave Midway Airlines until Sept. 24 to propose a reorganization plan. The penalty if it fails to do so: an order that its assets be liquidated. The regional carrier based in Morrisville, N.C., said Thursday that discussions on a $20 million loan from a Dallas investment group had broken down. Midway filed for Chapter 11 protection two years ago. Under a commuter contract with US Airways, it must emerge from bankruptcy by Oct. 31.

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