BUS BRIEFS Struggling Yukos loses partner

MOSCOW -- Cash-squeezed Yukos has lost a key partner at some of its most lucrative fields, as oilfield services company Schlumberger Ltd. confirmed Monday it was recalling some of its personnel and equipment from a key production unit for the embattled Russian oil giant.

Those resources, which have been stationed at fields belonging to Yukos' Yuganskneftegaz unit, are being transferred to other clients, said Gleb Ovsyannikov, director of media relations at Schlumberger's Russian division.

Since the summer, Russia's No. 1 oil producer has been fending off government demands for $7 billion in back tax claims for 2000-2001. The company says the back tax bill would bankrupt it.

Major Dutch steelmaker consolidating

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- A privately owned Dutch steelmaker led by billionaire Lakshmi Mittal is consolidating its steel holdings and is buying U.S.-based International Steel Group Inc. for about $4.5 billion in cash and stock in a deal that would make it one of the largest steel companies in the world.


The combined company under the deal announced Monday would have operations in 14 countries on four continents, generate revenue of more than $30 billion this year and employ 165,000 people. It would rival Luxembourg's Arcelor SA as the world's largest steelmaker.

Marsh &; McLennan head steps down

NEW YORK -- The head of Marsh &; McLennan Companies Inc. insurance brokerage stepped down Monday in a move seen as clearing the way for settlement of bid-rigging charges brought by New York's attorney general.

The resignation of Jeffrey W. Greenberg from the posts of chairman and chief executive was accepted at an emergency board meeting at the company's New York headquarters.

The board said that Greenberg will be replaced by Michael Cherkasky, 54, who just last week was named head of Marsh Inc., the company's insurance brokerage unit.

American Express makes offer to Delta

ATLANTA -- A unit of American Express Co. agreed Monday to provide Delta Air Lines Inc. with up to $600 million in financing -- if the cash-strapped airline persuades its reluctant pilots to accept $1 billion in concessions. Delta shares soared 17 percent.

The deal with American Express Travel Related Services Company Inc. calls for a $100 million loan, with the remaining $500 million as a prepayment of SkyMiles, which is Delta's frequent flier miles program. American Express credit card users can already earn Skymiles with their purchases.


Citigroup to settle on allegations

WASHINGTON -- Financial-services giant Citigroup Inc. will pay $250,000 to settle allegations it used misleading sales material on hedge funds, the National Association of Securities Dealers announced Monday.

The NASD's announcement of a censure and fine against Citigroup, the nation's largest financial institution, came a day before the Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to mandate new oversight for hedge funds -- largely unregulated investment pools traditionally for the wealthy that have become more popular with small investors.

The high-risk, potentially high-return funds have an estimated $750 billion to $1 trillion in assets and are growing, and oversight is needed to head off potential blowups that could hurt ordinary investors, SEC officials contend.

Home sales rose in September

WASHINGTON -- Sales of previously owned homes rose in September to the third-highest level on record as low mortgage rates beckoned buyers.

The National Association of Realtors reported Monday that after two straight months of declines, sales rose 3.1 percent in September from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.75 million units, the third-highest showing ever.

The figures were better than analysts were expecting. They were forecasting sales of previously owned homes to clock in at around a 6.54 million pace for September.

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