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Representatives from the Treasury Department, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and House Financial Services Committee discussed the plan by phone Thursday, said California Bankers Association Chairman Dan Doyle, who was on the call.

Small community banks are struggling as commercial real estate and other loans go sour. Officials and industry representatives are considering how to get money to those banks, Doyle said Friday.

The new program could force Treasury to postpone closing its $700 billion bailout fund, which is scheduled to expire this year. That decision has become a political hot potato amid public backlash against bailouts and a rising deficit.

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Unilever buys some Sara Lee businesses for $1.9B

AMSTERDAM (AP) ¿ Consumer products giant Unilever NV said Friday it has agreed to buy soaps and personal care businesses including the Sanex and Duschdas brands from Sara Lee Corp. for euro1.28 billion ($1.88 billion).

The businesses to be acquired, subject to regulatory approval, include Sara Lee's worldwide body care products business and its European detergents arms. In addition to Sanex ¿ a cheaper parallel of Unilever's Dove brand ¿ and Duschdas, a German shower gel maker, Unilever is buying several strong regional brands such as Radox bubble bath and Switzal, a maker of baby shampoo.

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