Business & Finance

Delta Air Lines refused to comment on a published report that it's expected to file for bankruptcy as soon as Thursday - once a deal has been reached with creditors for enough financing to allow continued flying. The Wall Street Journal, citing "people familiar with the matter," said Delta's board must meet first to OK both a filing for Chapter 11 protection and new terms with General Electric's financing unit. Such a deal will require Delta to sell or hock planes, spare parts, some choice overseas routes, its Comair regional feeder airline, and boarding gates at New York's LaGuardia Airport to repay the balance of a $1 billion loan obtained from GE last November, the Journal said.

Struggling Siebel Systems agreed to be acquired by larger rival Oracle Corp. for $5.85 billion, making the latter the world's largest producer of customer-service software, chief executive Larry Ellison said. The conquest was Oracle's second major deal this year. In January, it won a long takeover fight for PeopleSoft Inc. Oracle is based in Redwood City, Calif. Siebel Systems, of San Mateo, Calif., replaced its chief executive in April for the second time in less than a year in an effort to reverse falling sales.

EBay Inc. said it will pay $2.6 billion in cash and stock for Skype Technologies SA, a two-year-old company widely admired for innovation but perceived as having a largely undeveloped business model. Skype, based in Luxembourg, carries voice calls over the Internet but charges only for those made from computers to cellphones or traditional land-line phones. EBay, for its part, handles millions of communications daily between buyers and sellers around the world via e-mail but has lacked the capability to allow the parties to talk with each other in real time.

Allianz AG, the largest seller of insurance in Europe, offered $7.1 billion for the 45 percent of its Italian subsidiary, Riunione Adriatica di Sicurta, that it doesn't already own. The latter, a 167-year-old company, said it expects to continue doing business under its own brand. The takeover would be the largest for Allianz since it bought Germany's Dresdner Bank four years ago for $21 billion.

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