Business & Finance

Unocal, the oil company at the center of an international takeover struggle, is expected to learn by Wednesday whether one of its suitors is withdrawing from the field. Executives of Chinese bidder CNOOC were deciding whether to announce an increase in their offer above the current $18.5 billion, The New York Times reported, recognizing that to do so would give new ammunition to members of Congress who say the Chinese want Unocal for strategic rather than economic reasons. Meanwhile, a source close to CNOOC told The Wall Street Journal, "Realistically speaking, it's probably over." Unocal's board has OK'd a $17 billion bid from Chevron of the US, and shareholders are scheduled to vote on the deal next week.

To try to maintain sales momentum, General Motors was expected as the Monitor went to press to announce price cuts on almost half of its 2006 models, which normally arrive in dealer showrooms before October. For instance, the Chevolet Silverado pickup will be slashed by $3,000 and the Cadillac DTS by $4,800, reported. The strategy is designed to pick up where GM's employee-discount offer left off Monday. That two-month program, which gave all buyers the same price breaks extended to GM workers, boosted sales 47 percent in June to the highest monthly level in 19 years. Still, it couldn't prevent a $1.2 billion second-quarter loss, said.

Allied Holdings Inc., a leading transporter of cars from assembly plants, seaports, rail terminals, and auction lots to dealer showrooms, filed for bankruptcy. The company cited rising fuel costs, increased obligations under its contract with the Teamsters Union, and competition from nonunion haulers, plus a drop in volume as automakers cut back production. Allied is based in Decatur, Ga.

Atkins Nutritionals Inc, the company responsible for the once red-hot, low-carbohydrate diet and its related products, was to begin a Chapter 11 bankruptcy hearing in New York Monday. It was founded in 1989 as a privately held enterprise in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., by Dr. Robert Atkins. But he died two years ago, and the popularity of his diet - which calls for avoiding bread and pasta - has waned to the point that the company owes creditors $300 million. Executives say it will focus on nutrition bars, shakes, and candy when it emerges from bankruptcy.

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