In the RegionUS Airways, European carriers discuss...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

In the Region

US Airways, European carriers discuss partnership

US Airways Group Inc. is talking with European airlines about a partnership as part of the sixth-largest U.S. carrier's plan to expand international service, Chairman Stephen Wolf said yesterday.

The airline has said that finding a European partner and building an international alliance are priorities this year because new Airbus planes better equip it to increase trans-Atlantic flights, Wolf said. He wouldn't say which airlines are in the talks.

The Arlington, Va.-based airline has been recovering from delays and cancellations because of maintenance, labor and computer-related difficulties, and has reported three straight quarterly losses.

First-quarter loss widens at Integrated Health

Sparks-based Integrated Health Services Inc., which is operating under bankruptcy protection, reported a loss of $28.2 million, or 58 cents a share, including reorganization charges, for the quarter that ended March 31. That compares with a loss of $6.6 million, or 13 cents a share, posted for the first quarter of 1999.

Revenue was $637.3 million, up 2.7 percent from $620.2 million in the year-earlier quarter.

Integrated, which operates skilled nursing homes and related businesses, filed for bankruptcy reorganization in February.

Health care workers sign with D.C. local

The Service Employees International Union Local 1199E-DC said yesterday that a majority of technical and service employees at University of Maryland Medical Center have signed membership cards and the union will seek a representation election.

The union wants to represent about 1,700 nursing aides, technicians and dietary workers. The local already represents about 9,000 health care workers in the Baltimore-Washington area.

Suit against Ciena is dismissed here

Ciena Corp. said yesterday that a federal judge in Baltimore has dismissed a class action suit which alleged that the Linthicum-based company failed to disclose material information that served to inflate or maintain the company's share price in 1998.

According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by the company, the suit also alleged that the telecommunications equipment maker's officers and directors made misleading statements that artificially inflated the company's stock price between May 21 and Aug. 21, 1998, before Ciena's share price plummeted because of disappointing third-quarter earnings that year.

Digital-Harbor.org to promote Inner Harbor

The Baltimore County Technology Council started a Web site yesterday aimed at promoting Baltimore's Inner Harbor and surrounding region as a hub for Internet and e-commerce companies.

The site, Digital-Harbor.org, initially will offer a "Digital Harbor" logo for companies to download and use to promote themselves and the region, said Wes Shaffer, chairman of the council, which advises Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger on technology development initiatives.

Businesses also can post their Internet URL links on the site.

Elsewhere

Intel is splitting its shares 2 for 1, raising the dividend

Intel Corp., the world's biggest semiconductor maker, yesterday set a 2-for-1 stock split after shares have more than doubled in the past year.

Intel said shareholders of record on July 2 will receive one additional share for each share held on that date. The company also boosted its post-split dividend to 2 cents a share from 1.5 cents.

Intel said the shares would begin trading on a split-adjusted basis July 31. The payment date would be July 30, about the time the new shares will be mailed to shareholders.

GM wireless contract awarded to Motorola

Motorola Inc., the No. 2 maker of cellular phones, said yesterday that it won a multiyear contract worth perhaps $2 billion from General Motors Corp. to develop and install wireless devices in almost every GM vehicle, starting with 2001 models.

Motorola will work with GM's OnStar unit, which makes systems that enable vehicles to be tracked by satellites, and with Saturn Electronics & Engineering Inc., a closely held company in Auburn Hills, Mich., that assembles circuit boards.

The system will give drivers access to information, entertainment and emergency assistance.

Oxford Health retires debt early

Oxford Health Plans Inc., whose first-quarter earnings tripled, said it retired the remaining $131 million of its $150 million term loan three years early and would pay a pre-payment fee of 2.5 percent.

Trumbell, Conn.-based Oxford, one of the biggest New York health insurers, received dividends and surplus note repayments from its New York HMO subsidiary totaling $128 million during the current quarter, which helped it to retire the loan.

Oxford shares have almost doubled since the start of the year to $21.4375 from $12.625 on Jan. 3 as it improved earnings by leaving less-profitable markets and controlling costs.

Gates' sister named to Avista's board

Avista Corp., a Washington utility owner and fuel-cell developer, appointed Kristianne Gates Blake to its board, tightening the company's ties to her brother, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates.

Blake, 46, is a Spokane-based public accountant specializing in financial and tax planning. This will be her first corporate board membership.

Bill Gates, through his investment vehicle, Cascade Investment LLC, is Avista's second-largest shareholder.

Ex-CEO gets 5 years, must pay $150 million

Centennial Technologies Inc.'s former chief executive officer, Emanuel Pinez, was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of almost $150 million for defrauding investors by inflating the company's financial results from 1994 to 1997, federal authorities said yesterday.

Pinez, 62, was arrested in 1997 and has been incarcerated for three years and four months, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Boston. He pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to commit securities fraud.

Pinez caused Centennial, a maker of memory cards for personal computers, to overstate earnings by more than $32 million, and its shares fell sharply in February 1997, costing investors hundreds of millions of dollars, after reports that auditors were examining its revenue figures.

Connectix wins a partial victory

Connectix Corp., the maker of software that lets consumers run Sony PlayStation games on personal computers, has won a partial victory in its legal battle against a unit of Sony Corp.

A federal judge in San Francisco threw out seven of nine counts in a suit brought by Sony Computer Entertainment that alleged San Mateo, Calif.-based Connectix violated the entertainment giant's copyrights with its software, Virtual Game Station. Judge Charles Legge also said he would decide in the next 90 days whether to review the remaining trade-secret and unfair-competition claims in the suit.

American International splits stock, boosts payout

American International Group, the world's largest insurer by market value, approved a 3-for-2 stock split at its shareholder meeting yesterday and announced an 11 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to 3.7 cents per share.

The company said the stock split would be made in the form of a 50 percent stock dividend to shareholders. The dividend is payable on July 28 to shareholders of record on June 30. Adjusted for the split, the new quarterly cash dividend is an 11 percent increase on the previous quarterly dividend of 5 cents per share. It will be payable in September.

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

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