Business & Finance

Citigroup sold another noncore businesses, its transportation leasing unit, to GE Commercial Finance for $4.4 billion. The unit, whose employees are divided between Dallas and Toronto, has a portfolio of almost 200,000 heavy- and medium-duty commercial trucks. Earlier this year, Citigroup sold its medical, construction, and industrial financing business to CIT Group of New York.

Mining industry giant BHP Billiton spent $1.78 billion - or 50 percent more than planned - on a just-completed buyback of its own stock, a record for Australian business. The program was open only to owners of stock traded in Australia, although BHP is part-British and the majority of its stockholders live overseas. The company is riding the crest of a boom, thanks to the coal and other minerals it supplies to rapidly industrializing China. BHP posted a $2.6 billion operating profit last year.

McDonald's Corp. chief executive Charlie Bell resigned Monday for health reasons after 33 years with the company and was replaced by vice chairman Jim Skinner. The move was the second of its type at the fast-food giant in seven months. Skinner has overseen the company's operations in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America since July. His promotion appeared aimed at maintaining the continuity of a successful two-year turnaround. Bell will remain on the board of directors.

Loews Corp. agreed to pay $1.14 billion for the 8,000-mile Gulf South Pipeline network, a joint venture of Entergy Corp. and Koch Industries that was formed at the height of the energy-trading boom to compete with Enron. Loews, a diversified holding company based in New York, already owns 5,800 miles of pipelines, plus watchmaker Bulova, Lorillard Tobacco, and a chain of hotels under its own name.

Cendant Corp., a leader in the travel and real estate services industries, said it plans an initial public offering in March of shares in its Wright Express subsidiary. The latter provides financial services to corporate and government car, van, and truck fleets. The IPO could net Cendant, which is sharpening its focus on core businesses, more than $1 billion, analysts said.

American Airlines said it will delay the delivery of 54 jetliners from Boeing to help in restructuring its finances. Most of the planes were scheduled for delivery over the next three years but now won't arrive for six to seven years.

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