Business & Finance

A $200 billion program to help low- and moderate-income buyers acquire homes was announced by Citigroup, the largest financial-services company in the US. The program represents an expansion of its existing $12 billion Opportunities Within Neighborhoods mortgage plan and could help as many as 2 million families by the end of the decade, Citigroup estimated. The program will feature low down payments, reduced closing costs, and special assistance for people with troubled credit histories.

Deeply indebted Alstom SA, the engineering giant that builds luxury cruise ships and high-speed trains, averted bankruptcy when the European Union OK'd a modified $3 billion bailout plan late Monday that involves the French government and creditor banks and up to 7,000 layoffs. The deal calls for a package of government bond purchases and 20-year loans convertible to stock with EU approval. Under the original plan, opposed by the EU on antitrust grounds, the government would have bought Alstom shares directly. The banks will provide an additional $2.75 billion through a package of loans and share and bond purchases. The collapse of Alstom, one of France's most prized companies, could have resulted in the loss of up to 36,000 jobs.

British Airways' strategic alliance, OneWorld, agreed to take in a new member, the struggling national carrier of Switzerland. Swiss (the former Swissair) will trade the rights to eight of its gates at London's Heathrow Airport for a $37 million line of credit and joint operations between major destinations in Britain and Switzerland. Other partners in the alliance are American Airlines, Qantas of Australia, Cathay Pacific of Hong Kong, Iberia of Spain, Aer Lingus of Ireland, Finnair of Finland, and Chile's LanChile.

Cash-strapped Indian Motorcycle Corp. ceased operations, effective immediately, laying off all 380 employees last Friday afternoon. The San Francisco Chronicle cited Indian's chairman as saying the Gilroy, Calif., company would seek new investors, possibly under a bankruptcy reorganization plan, and would consider relocating to another state where operating costs are lower. The Indian brand dates to 1901. The company went bankrupt in 1953, but was revived four years ago.

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