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Friday, July 23, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Theater giant AMC Entertainment being sold for $2 billion

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — AMC Entertainment, the nation's second-largest theater exhibition company, said yesterday it will be sold in a deal worth $2 billion.

Marquee Holdings, a joint operation of private equity firm J.P. Morgan Partners and AMC's current majority owner, Apollo Management, plans to buy the company and take it private, paying stockholders $19.50 a share. AMC shares were selling at $17.16 yesterday before trading was halted for the announcement.

The offer from Marquee Holdings represents a 14 percent premium on that and 37 percent over what the shares were worth Monday, when published reports said J.P. Morgan Partners was looking to buy the company. The shares closed at $19.10, up $1.94, or more than 11 percent, yesterday.

Yukos

Russia snubs plea on $3.4 billion tax bill

MOSCOW — Russian oil giant Yukos, which produces about 2 percent of the world's oil, warned yesterday it could run out of money within a month and may not be able to fulfill export contracts as it faces an enormous bill for back taxes.

Yukos renewed its plea to the government to be allowed to stagger payment of its $3.4 billion tax bill for 2000, but the government has shown no interest, and analysts interpreted the call as a reflection of desperation rather than hope.

Justice Ministry officials said this week that Yuganskneftegaz, Yukos' largest production unit, was being readied for sale by the state in a move to settle the tax claim.

United Airlines

Financing deal worth $1 billion is struck

CHICAGO — United Airlines confirmed yesterday that it has secured new bankruptcy financing, giving it more time and money to complete its Chapter 11 restructuring.

The new package totals $1 billion — the $500 million remaining from the current financing plus an additional $500 million — United spokeswoman Jean Medina said.

United would have until June 30, 2005, to repay the interim financing, which is to be formally disclosed today in conjunction with the airline's monthly bankruptcy-court hearing.

New York Stock Exchange

Spitzer, agency want suit in state court

NEW YORK — The New York Stock Exchange joined New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in arguing that Spitzer's lawsuit against former Big Board chairman Richard Grasso belongs in state court.

Representing the NYSE, Chicago lawyer Dan Webb filed a motion late Wednesday to move Spitzer's suit against Grasso back to New York state court. On May 24, Spitzer sued Grasso to recover $100 million of the $190 million he said Grasso received in his eight years as NYSE chairman.

Grasso's lawyer filed to move the case to federal court June 17. Grasso at the time said it belonged there because as NYSE chairman, he was "acting under an officer of a federal agency."

Grasso on Tuesday sued the NYSE and its current chairman, John Reed, accusing the exchange of violating his employment contract by not paying him millions of dollars owed to him.

Grasso, the NYSE's chairman and chief executive from 1995 until September 2003, was forced to resign after the exchange disclosed he received $140 million in August.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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