The Association of Argentine Savers said it would reject the government's plan to restructure about $100 billion in debt after Finance Secretary Guillermo Nielsen refused to improve the offer. It became the second local creditor group to reject the plan, "which really can't be taken as serious when it includes a 42-year repayment period," said Carlos Baez, the association's president. Argentina, which stopped debt payments in late 2001, needs to reach an agreement with creditors as a condition of a $13.3 billion loan accord with the International Monetary Fund.

Mandalay Turns Down MGM Offer

Mandalay Resort Group rejected a $4.85 billion cash buyout offer from MGM Mirage that would have created the world's largest casino company. Glenn Schaeffer, president and chief financial officer of Mandalay, said the offer "asked Mandalay shareholders to bear a far disproportionate share of the risk" and was not in their best interest. The deal would have given MGM Mirage control of 10 properties on the Las Vegas strip with about half the 73,000 hotel rooms there. The combined company would have surpassed Harrah's Entertainment and Caesars Entertainment with more than $6 billion in revenue.


United Airlines expects to emerge from bankruptcy protection by year-end even if its pending application for a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee is rejected, chief executive Glenn F. Tilton said. Tilton said the carrier's 18-month restructuring has left it on solid enough footing to finish the reorganization regardless of the verdict.

Three more insurance companies said they have received subpoenas from New York state Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer seeking information on the way brokers and consultants are paid. Aetna, Cigna and Metropolitan Life said they would cooperate.

NASD began an investigation into "fairness opinions" that bankers furnish clients entering into big corporate deals. The probe and related efforts by securities regulators to develop rules that would require banking firms to disclose more information about conflicts of interest, were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The European Union rejected a U.S. offer to open part of the American airline market to carriers such as Air France, preventing an accord that would also spur transatlantic route competition and mergers. The EU said the offer to let European airlines buy capacity on U.S. routes wasn't generous enough to justify a broader open-skies agreement. Talks will continue.

Martha Stewart sold 75,000 shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and plans to sell 425,000 more to pay for trial expenses, a spokeswoman said. The sale represents less than 2 percent of Stewart's ownership. president and chief executive Kal Raman resigned as the online pharmaceuticals and cosmetics retailer lowered its earnings forecast for the second quarter and year. Chief Financial Officer Robert Barton will temporarily replace Raman.

Merrill Lynch is "institutionally sexist," the investment firm's former head of European private banking told a London tribunal. Stephanie Villalba, who is seeking more than $13 million in damages, said she was victimized, paid less than her male colleagues and was wrongly dismissed. Merrill Lynch says she was fired after 14 months as head of the unit because she was not up to the job.


Chiquita Brands International agreed to sell its Colombia banana business to Invesmar for about $51.5 million. Chiquita, the world's No. 1 banana producer, last month said the United States was investigating the role of the Colombian unit in making payments to groups identified as foreign terrorists.

Text messages sent by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to the cell phones of 40 million Italians are a violation of privacy, Italian consumer advocacy groups said. Berlusconi said the text messages were meant to prompt voters to cast ballots, and not to sway their votes. The government said an Interior Ministry decree gave it authority to obtain cell-phone numbers.

Accor said it is buying nearly 30 percent of Club Mediterranee for $305 million in a move that could help the resort attract more customers. The French hotel and leisure company will become Club Med's biggest shareholder.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers