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In the RegionCES announces 3-year deal with...


In the Region

CES announces 3-year deal with Columbia REIT

Constellation Energy Source, a subsidiary of Constellation Energy Group, the parent of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., yesterday announced a three-year energy management agreement with Corporate Office Properties Trust, a Columbia-based real estate investment trust.

CES will provide customized energy products and services such as an Internet database that will monitor COPT's electricity and natural gas consumption. COPT owns 78 office properties in the mid-Atlantic region.

CES provides energy services and products to commercial and industrial customers in the mid-Atlantic region.

Gene Logic Inc. invests in NeuralStem

Gaithersburg-based Gene Logic Inc., a provider of genomic information, has made an equity investment in NeuralStem BioPharmaceuticals, a privately held company based in College Park, NeuralStem said yesterday.

The value of the investment wasn't disclosed.

The collaboration of the two companies could help researchers predict the safety and effectiveness of new drugs, and aid research into such diseases as Alzheimer's.

Retired city solicitor joins Venable firm

Venable, Baetjer and Howard said Otho M. Thompson, who recently retired as the Baltimore solicitor, has joined the law firm's litigation practice group as a partner.

Thompson will focus on general civil and federal litigation, state and local legislative representation and administrative trials and appeals, Venable said.

Thompson was an attorney in the Baltimore solicitor's office for 25 years. Then-Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke appointed him city solicitor in 1996.

Igen reports loss of $2.24 a share

Igen International Inc., a maker of biomedical discovery equipment and diagnostic tests, yesterday reported a fiscal year-end net loss of $32.4 million, or $2.24 a share.

Excluding a one-time noncash charge of $9.9 million taken in connection with the January issuance of debentures and warrants, Igen's net loss for the fiscal year ending March 31 was $22.5 million, or $1.60 a share.

Revenue in the year rose 39 percent to a record $20.7 million, compared with $14.9 million the previous year. The company attributed fourth-quarter revenue growth of 59 percent to rising product sales.


Coke increasing efforts to assist minorities, women

Coca-Cola Co. said yesterday that it will spend $1 billion over five years to sponsor U.S. programs for minorities and women and invest a similar amount in Africa.

The company, which is being sued by former employees for racial discrimination, said it will double the amount it currently spends on programs to promote entrepreneurship and business opportunities for minorities.

It also will set up a task force, led by President and Chief Operating Officer Jack Stahl, to better open equity and ownership options to minorities.

Nasdaq stock is sold for total of $330 million

The Nasdaq stock market has sold stock in itself to 2,805 brokerages and companies for a total of $330 million as part of its conversion to a for-profit company, which is due to be completed by September.

The world's second-largest stock market is selling control of itself in two private placements of stock and warrants that are expected to generate about $1.5 billion. Yesterday's announcement was "a progress report" on the first private placement, which is due to be completed next month, said Nasdaq spokesman Scott Peterson.

Nasdaq sold 24 million shares of common stock and warrants that can eventually be redeemed for 25 million shares to 2,764 brokerages, or about half the NASD members.

The National Association of Securities Dealers, which owns the Nasdaq, hopes that the conversion of the not-for-profit association will enable it to streamline decision-making and improve access to money for investment.

Spain's Terra Networks buying Lycos Inc.

Spanish Internet company Terra Networks SA said yesterday that it will buy U.S. Internet portal Lycos Inc. for $12.5 billion in stock.

The widely expected deal, announced after the close of financial markets, gives the dominant Internet service provider in Latin America a foothold in the United States, where an estimated 35 million Spanish speakers have an average income well above that of their counterparts south of the border.

Lycos shareholders will receive $97.55 a share in Terra stock so long as Terra's stock price does not rise or fall more than 20 percent from the recent closing price.

Kmart hunting successor to Hall, its CEO

Kmart Corp., the No. 3 U.S. retailer, said yesterday that it has initiated a formal search for a new chief executive to succeed Floyd Hall when his employment contract expires in April.

Hall, who also is chairman and president, said the retailer will look for a successor internally and externally, and has "several outstanding candidates." The company set no timetable for naming the new leader.

Hall also told several hundred shareholders and employees at Kmart's annual meeting in Detroit that the Troy, Mich.-based retailer expects to have an initial public offering next year for free Internet service provider, of which Kmart owns a majority stake.

Corel won't be merging with Inprise/Borland

Canadian software developer Corel Corp. and California's Inprise/Borland Corp. called off their merger plans yesterday, raising fresh questions about Corel's future.

Ottawa-based Corel said it had agreed to terminate the deal - which it had initially claimed would make it a Linux powerhouse - because of "significant changes" since the acquisition was announced in February.

The all-stock deal had come under increasingly vocal criticism from Inprise/Borland shareholders as its value - tied to Corel's stock price on Nasdaq - shrank more than 70 percent. Corel stock slipped from $20 before the deal was struck Feb. 7 to a close of $5.4063 Monday, dragging down the value of the deal to $290.5 million from $1.07 billion.

J.C. Penney earnings fall to 28M-" a share

J.C. Penney Co. said profit tumbled for the third straight quarter because of slow sales at its department stores and higher costs at the Eckerd drugstore chain.

Profit from operations for the first quarter that ended April 29 fell 51 percent to $82 million, or 28 cents a share, from net income of $167 million, or 61 cents, a year earlier. Sales rose 2.6 percent to $7.73 billion from $7.53 billion.

J.C. Penney is shutting stores to reduce costs at Eckerd and combat slow sales at its department stores, which have lost shoppers to Target Corp. and other low-price rivals. It's also centralizing purchasing to better order and track merchandise, and to make sure that advertised specials are in stock.

CalPERS sues Hyatt over hotel operation

Hyatt Corp., a major U.S. hotel chain, was sued by the California Public Employees Retirement System seeking $8.9 million for alleged mismanagement of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Indianapolis.

Sacramento, Calif.-based CalPERS, the largest U.S. public pension fund, says in a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Wilmington that it has owned the 496-room hotel that Hyatt manages since 1987.

CalPERS alleges in the suit that privately held Hyatt Corp., owned by Chicago's Pritzker family, artificially inflated profit figures by neglecting needed repairs so it could charge a higher management fee, took kickbacks from undisclosed hotel vendors, illegally charged the owners for Hyatt's overhead and issued false financial statements from 1987 to 1998.

This column was compiled from reports by Sun staff writers, the Associated Press, Bloomberg News and Reuters.

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