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News Briefs, part 2

Parent Company Files For Sale of United Airlines

The Washington Post

United Airlines' parent company set in motion the sale of majority control to its employees Monday by filing documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Investment bankers have valued the package at $170 to $173 a share. UAL Corp. stock closed Monday at $133.25, up $1.75.

For each share they now hold, shareholders would receive one-half a share of new United stock, $25.80 in cash, one share of preferred stock with a value of $31.10 and an initial dividend rate of 10.25 percent and unsecured debentures due in 2004 and 2014, according to the filings. The unsecured debentures, each with a principal amount of $15.55, carry initial interest rates of 9.00 percent and 9.70 percent.

Once the deal is completed, members of the Air Line Pilots Association, the International Association of Machinists and the company's nonunion employees will control at least 53 percent of United, under an employee stock ownership plan.

Nine of the 12 members of a new United board also were named Monday, reflecting a balance of interests between the pilots and machinists. Wall Street analysts have said they expect shareholders to approve the deal when they finally vote, probably in May.

Eugene Ionesco, `Theater of the Absurd' Playwright, Dies at 81

Los Angeles Times

Eugene Ionesco, the Romanian-born playwright who was considered the godfather of the Theater of the Absurd and wrote the genre's best-known work, "The Rhinoceros," died Monday. He was 81.

Ionesco, who had recently suffered from bronchitis, died in his Paris home during a post-lunch nap, his wife, Rodika, said. For many years, he had had arthrosis, a disease of joint deterioration.

An allegory protesting totalitarianism, "Rhinoceros" involves townsfolk in a French village on a quiet Sunday morning who hear that a rhinoceros is charging through the streets. Illustrating that ordinary people find it difficult to resist the extraordinary, all the characters -- except the publisher's clerk, played in America by Wallach -- eventually turn into rhinoceroses.

Born in Slatina, Romania, Ionesco spent his early childhood in Paris. He then returned to Romania until his colleagues' bow to Hitler prompted him to flee permanently to France. Eventually he became a French citizen.

Ionesco worked as a professor of French in Romania, and then for a publishing house when he moved to France. When Ionesco decided to transform his views on the absurdity of life into plays, his wife helped supported them by working in a lawyer's office.

Although critics were initially unimpressed when Ionesco's first play, "The Bald Soprano," premiered May 11, 1950, word of mouth prompted a surge in ticket sales. Ionesco was so encouraged he decided to devote all his time to writing plays as fast as he could turn them out.

Ionesco said he became a writer because literature seemed the surest path out of "abhorrent anonymity."

Among the trappings of fame he eventually achieved were entry into the respected Academie Francaise in 1970, the Ingersoll Foundation's annual T.S. Eliot Award for Creative Writing in 1985, and a commendation from the Los Angeles Theater Alliance in 1983.