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In the RegionRailWorks shares can keep their...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

In the Region

RailWorks shares can keep their Nasdaq listing

RailWorks Corp.'s shares will continue to be traded on the Nasdaq stock market, as a result of new listing standards being implemented by market officials in a pilot program.

The Baltimore County-based rail construction and services company had been told by market officials in March that it would need to achieve a minimum bid price of $5 per share by May 18 or face losing its Nasdaq listing. On May 4, the company's shareholders approved a reverse stock split in hopes of raising the company's share price.

The new market standards ease the minimum bid price requirement, allowing company officials to cancel plans for the reverse split, John Larkin, RailWorks' chief executive, said yesterday.

2012 Olympics group settles with Ganzi

The Washington-Baltimore Regional 2012 Coalition has reached a settlement with Elizabeth Ganzi and her Greater Washington Exploratory Committee regarding the region's bid to play host to the 2012 Olympic Games.

In a lawsuit filed in 1999, Ganzi sought compensation for the role she played in initiating Washington's effort to be one of the U.S. cities bidding for the games. Since her initial work, Washington and Baltimore have joined forces, and the coalition has headed the campaign. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Guilford receives patent on Aquavan

Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc. said yesterday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a patent covering the company's Aquavan injection.

Aquavan, which recently completed Phase I clinical testing in Europe, could be used in hospitals and out-patient offices to anesthetize patients during surgery or keep them sedated, with fewer side effects, during medical procedures.

Aquavan is rapidly converted in the body into propofol, the most widely used general anesthetic in the world. Guilford said Phase Two studies of Aquavan are expected to begin later in the year.

Cresco, ATNET merge under former's name

Cresco Technologies Inc of Towson and ATNET Solutions Inc. of Bel Air, two small information-technology companies, have merged. The new company, with about 15 employees, will operate under the Cresco name in offices in Radio Park on East Joppa Road in Towson.

The merger came after discussions between Scott Willard, who will remain chief executive officer of Cresco, and Sean Dowling, CEO of ATNET. Dowling will become vice president of network services for Cresco.

Cresco, founded in 1998, specializes in Web design and development. ATNET, founded in 1994, concentrated on information-technology staffing and network integration systems.

Blakeslee lands new Dentsply account

Baltimore-based Blakeslee Group has been named agency of record for Dentsply Pharmaceutical, a new division of Dentsply International Inc., which is one of the world's oldest and largest suppliers of products and services to the international dental profession industry.

The new division, based in York, Pa., was formed as a result of Dentsply's acquisition of AstraZeneca local dental anesthetic division. Blakeslee also is agency of record for Dentsply International's Ceramco division. Billings for the new account were not disclosed.

Elsewhere

L. L. Bean goes out of the family for its new CEO

L. L. Bean Inc., the mail-order catalog giant known for its rubber-soled boots, plaid flannel shirts and easy return policy, said yesterday that it appointed a new chief executive to succeed Leon Gorman, who ran the family-owned business for more than 30 years.

The Freeport, Maine-based company elevated Chris McCormick to president and chief executive officer. A company veteran, McCormick, 45, is the first nonfamily member to run the 89-year-old company.

Gorman, 66, took over at L. L. Bean after his grandfather and company founder, Leon Leonwood Bean, died in 1967. During Gorman's tenure, L. L. Bean grew from four catalogs, one store and $5 million in annual sales to an international operation with $1.1 billion in annual sales.

Another fare raise spoiled by Northwest

A move by airlines to raise fares failed yesterday after No. 4 U.S. airline Northwest Airlines Corp., the habitual spoiler of such efforts, refused to play along.

America West Airlines, the No. 8 carrier, started late last week with a 5 percent increase on nondiscounted business fares and advance-purchase leisure fares, but rolled back its move yesterday.

At one point, all the major carriers other than Northwest had matched America West. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines Inc., the No. 1 and 3 U.S. carriers, respectively, pulled their increases after it was clear that Northwest was not going to participate.

Weyerhaeuser might raise bid for Willamette

Weyerhaeuser Co. said yesterday that it will consider raising its $5.5 billion offer for timber rival Willamette Industries.

The forest products company has already offered $50 per share for Willamette, based in Portland, Ore., but company officials have rejected the offer. Weyerhaeuser would also assume $1.7 billion in Willamette debt in the deal.

"If Willamette is prepared to negotiate a definitive merger agreement promptly, Weyerhaeuser is willing to increase its offer to above $50 a share," Steven Rogel, Weyerhaeuser's chairman and chief executive, said. Weyerhaeuser also said it would extend until June 7 its current offer to buy Willamette for $50 per share.

Willamette's board has rejected the bid, and asked shareholders to follow suit. Company executives said they have talked with Weyerhaeuser about a possible deal over the last several weeks, but that the discussions went nowhere.

Lechters Inc. files for Chapter 11

Housewares retailer Lechters Inc. filed yesterday for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., to gain time to restructure its debt and refocus on its core business.

The company also secured an $86 million commitment from Fleet Retail Finance Inc. and Back Bay Capital Funding, its existing lenders, to meet future obligations.

The company said its stores will stay open and workers will still be paid. In February, Lechters announced a restructuring plan to streamline its organization and close underperforming operations.

Lufthansa and pilots resume pay talks

Lufthansa and its disgruntled pilots resumed pay talks yesterday as the threat of a third full-day strike hung over Germany's leading airline.

A spokesman for the pilots' union, Georg Fongern, urged Lufthansa to improve its offer. But he also said, "I have the impression it could work out this time."

Fongern said the talks, which were broken off Wednesday, were being held at a secret location and would likely continue today. Lufthansa declined to comment.

Last Thursday, striking pilots forced Lufthansa to scrub some 800 of 1,100 flights, affecting thousands of passengers. Lufthansa had canceled more than 900 flights the previous Thursday, when pilots staged their first 24-hour walkout.

Shareholder seeks to boost IHOP value

Southeastern Asset Management Inc., which acquires stakes in undervalued companies, says it plans to work with IHOP Corp. to restructure debts and boost the pancake restaurant chain's value.

The investment adviser said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it plans to work constructively with International House of Pancakes management and others to help the company sell or refinance $287 million in long-term loans, and return the proceeds to shareholders via share repurchases and/or dividends.

Southeastern, one of the company's largest shareholders, holds a 17.4 percent stake in IHOP.

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

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