Business & Finance

Deeply troubled Refco Inc. filed for bankruptcy late Monday, exactly one week after suspending its chief executive for allegedly hiding hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid debts. The commodities broker also announced the sale of its futures trading business to a group of private investors led by New York private equity firm J.C. Flowers & Co. for $768 million. The filing for Chapter 11 status, analysts said, sets up the possibility of an auction for Refco's other divisions. The units seeking court protection were not identified, although a news release said Refco Securities, the largest subsidiary, is not among them. The analysts saw this as an indication that angry investors have fled from so many parts of the company that the loss of assets and revenue may be far in excess of the $430 million allegedly concealed by chief executive Phillip Bennett.

A $2.3 billion hostile takeover bid for the No. 1 cargo handler in Australia, Patrick Corp., was rejected as "inadequate" and "a crude maneuver to stop [us] from achieving [our] own growth strategy." If the cash and stock offer by rival Toll Holdings Ltd. had been accepted, the combined company would have become the fourth-largest in the logistics industry behind United Parcel and FedEx Corp. of the US and TNT of the Netherlands.

Buyout specialist Cerberus Capital Management of New York and a partner will invest $1.4 billion in Japan's Seibu Group, an operator of hotels, golf and skiing resorts, and a suburban Tokyo commuter rail system, the news service reported. Cerberus's partner was identified as Nikko Principal Investments Japan Ltd.

Unisys Corp. posted a fourth straight quarterly loss in its struggle to compete with computer service rivals IBM and Accenture Ltd., and said it will cut up to 3,640 jobs and sell off some divisions in an effort to save $250 million a year. The company is based in Blue Bell, Pa.

Toyota announced a recall of 1.27 million cars, the largest in Japanese history. A spokesman said 16 models built between May 2000 and August 2002 have defects in the switch that operates the headlights. The Japanese recall record was set in 1996 when Nissan said 1.04 million of its cars were built with defective condensers that caused unwanted noise in their radios.

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