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Its sales in decline, Interstate Bakeries Corp., the maker of Twinkies, Wonder Bread, and Drake's products, hinted that it may be headed for bankruptcy. The nation's largest wholesale baker recently announced plant closings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Monroe, La., and said independent auditors may warn that they have "substantial doubt" about its ability to continue once a belated annual report is filed. Interstate has hired a turnaround firm that specializes in helping companies avoid bankruptcy, New York's Newsday reported. Interstate's headquarters are in Kansas City, Mo.

The $10 billion sale of half its natural gas distribution system was announced by National Grid Transco PLC of London, one of Britain's largest energy companies. A consortium consisting of Scottish & Southern Energy, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, and Borealis Infrastructure Management Inc. will acquire National Grid's assets in Scotland and southern England. Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund of Australia and several partners will take over National Grid's network in Wales. And a consortium led by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-Shing is buying the company's pipelines in northern England. National Grid said it would use the proceeds to reduce debt, although some might be applied to expansion in the US, where it already owns New York State's Niagara Mohawk utility and Eastern Utilities of Massachusetts.

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In another billion-dollar gas pipeline deal, Alcoa Inc. of Pittsburgh and two partners agreed to acquire the 951-mile Dampier conduit in Western Australia from Epic Energy Pty. Alcoa, the world's largest producer of aluminum, has extensive mining and chemical interests in Western Australia and buys almost half the gas transported through the pipeline. The seller is based in Perth.

United Airlines will recall another 375 flight attendants from voluntary furlough this fall to respond to fuller planes and increased flights, it announced Monday. This is in addition to 400 recalls already planned. As the year began, United, which has been restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, had 5,100 attendants on furlough, or about one-third of its total pool.


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