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In the RegionMagellan settles suit accusing company...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

In the Region

Magellan settles suit accusing company of fixing prices

Magellan Health Services, Inc., the Columbia-based mental-health insurer, announced yesterday the settlement of a lawsuit charging it and several competitors with price-fixing. The settlement acknowledges there was no evidence of price-fixing, and involves no payment to the plaintiffs or their lawyers, Magellan said.

The suit was filed two years ago in U.S. District Court in New York by therapists, charging Magellan and other mental-health insurers with fixing prices to drive down reimbursements to psychiatrists, psychologists and other providers.

The settlement, Magellan said, includes an agreement that the insurers will not terminate therapists for filing complaints or challenging decisions by the insurers - which Magellan and the other insurers say they don't do anyway.

Antex Biologics reports bigger first-quarter loss

Gaithersburg-based biopharmaceutical company Antex Biologics reported decreased revenue resulting in a first-quarter net loss of $1.2 million, or 4 cents a share, compared with a year-ago loss of $538,581, or 2 cents a share.

Revenue was $129,763 this quarter compared with $921,068 a year ago. Research and development costs decreased slightly, to $1,006,958 from $1,040,267. The company, which completed a $15.3 million private placement in March, reported cash and cash equivalents of $15.6 million on hand as of March 31.

Whiting Turner awarded $63 million Navy contract

The Whiting Turner Contracting Co. of Baltimore was awarded a contract worth up to $63,228,984 for work repairing and rehabilitating a portion of the U.S. Naval academy dormitory that houses all 4,000 Midshipmen, the Navy announced.

Whiting Turner will complete the last two wings of Bancroft Hall, where renovation work has been going on for years. The company will gut the rooms and replace systems, including electrical and mechanical equipment. The company's work is expected to start in early June and should be completed by August 2001.

Bainbridge International hires Baltimore agency

Bainbridge International of Southampton England has named Baltimore-based Blakeslee Group as its agency of record for the company's North American division in Canton, Mass. The value of the account was not disclosed.

Bainbridge is a textile converting company that specializes in sailcloth and other recreational and industrial fabrics and products. Blakeslee, a full-service marketing communications agency with 1999 year-end billings of $54 million, is designing Bainbridge's first brand awareness program for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets.

Elsewhere

Justice Department OKs AT&T; deal with MediaOne

The Justice Department gave conditional approval yesterday to AT&T; Corp.'s acquisition of MediaOne Group Inc., a deal that would make the long-distance carrier the nation's largest cable company.

AT&T; has agreed to shed its stake in Road Runner, the second-largest provider of high-speed Internet access, which MediaOne has an interest in. AT&T; already has a controlling interest in the biggest provider of high-speed Internet access, Excite@Home.

The Justice Department determined that combining both service providers would substantially lessen competition in the distribution of high-speed Internet services delivered over cable lines. The deal still requires approval by the Federal Communications Commission.

Ford to start building Thunderbirds for 2002

Ford Motor Co. will begin building the revived Thunderbird convertible next year as a 2002 model, a company spokesman said yesterday.

Based on the same chassis as the Lincoln LS and the Jaguar S-Type, the T-Bird will be a rear-wheel drive convertible, offered with the LS's 3.9-liter V8 engine and five-speed automatic transmission. The production car is expected to differ little from the prototype concept car Ford unveiled at the 1999 North American International Auto Show.

Analysts expect the T-Bird to be priced around $40,000.

Krispy Kreme reports high first-quarter profit

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. yesterday reported better-than-expected profit for its first quarter after going public in a well-received $63 million initial public offering last month.

Krispy Kreme reported net income for its fiscal first quarter, ended April 30, of $3.1 million, a 61 percent rise from $1.9 million a year earlier.

Diluted earnings of 27 cents per share topped the year-earlier 20 cents and beat analysts' expectations of 23 cents. System-wide sales jumped about 41 percent in the first quarter to $103.3 million, compared with $73.1 million a year ago.

Bausch & Lomb aims to target board in takeover

Bausch & Lomb Inc. said yesterday that it will move forward with plans to unseat three members of Wesley Jessen VisionCare Inc.'s board if enough investors back its $627 million tender offer for the company.

Earlier this month, the Rochester, N.Y.-based eye care company raised its cash tender offer for Wesley Jessen to $35.55 a share and extended the offer to May 31.

Bausch & Lomb has said it will let its tender offer expire if Wesley Jessen does not negotiate with it or if a majority of Wesley Jessen shares are not tendered. But the tender offer is nothing more than an investor poll, because Wesley Jessen has a poison pill that would make it prohibitively expensive for Bausch & Lomb to acquire more than 15 percent Wesley Jessen's shares.

Judge bars Bidder's Edge from searching eBay site

federal judge in San Jose., Calif., has sided with eBay Inc., issuing a preliminary injunction barring Bidder's Edge Inc. from using an automated system to search eBay's site for auction information.

The injunction, granted by U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte, goes into effect June 8. He granted the injunction on grounds that Bidder's Edge's searches slowed or had the potential to slow eBay's service.

eBay sued Bidder's Edge in December, alleging that the Burlington, Mass.-based company had illegally trespassed on its site, violated its copyright and trademarks and slowed its service.

Sallie Mae to purchase student loan company

SLM Holding Corp., better known as Sallie Mae, is buying Student Loan Funding Resources Inc. for $117.3 million, boosting its lending business.

Closely held Student Loan Funding is the eighth-largest holder of student loans with a $3 billion portfolio, and recently started a lending business. Sallie Mae, the largest buyer of U.S. student loans, made its major entry into the loan origination business with a $320 million purchase of Nellie Mae, a student loan provider, a year ago.

The purchase is expected to close on June 30 and add to its earnings this year, Sallie Mae said. Sallie Mae has a portfolio of $53 billion in student loans.

Polo Ralph Lauren report causes stock downgrade

Brokerage analysts reacted to Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.'s forecast of weaker-than-expected earnings by taking the stock off their buy lists - after a 39 percent slide in the shares in the past year.

The clothing designer known for its polo-player logo now is expected to report 10.3 percent profit growth this year and sells for about eight times this year's expected profit. The stock is cheaper than the average company in the Standard & Poor's 500 index, which sells for 24 times expected profit, but that doesn't mean analysts are likely to recommend it again any time soon.

Four analysts cut their ratings after Ralph Lauren executives said during a conference call that profit would grow about 10 percent this year, below the 19 percent average forecast by analysts.

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

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