In the Region
State Farm raising Maryland auto rates starting March 15
State Farm announced yesterday that it will raise its automobile insurance rates in Maryland an average of 7.3 percent beginning March 15.
The company, the largest auto insurer in the nation, insures about one in six Maryland drivers. It last changed its rates in December 2000, when it lowered premiums for some types of vehicles.
For most customers, premiums for liability, personal injury protection and uninsured motor vehicle coverage will increase, the company said. Premium changes will vary for individual drivers based on factors such as the amount of coverage, where they live, the kind of car they drive, who drives it and how much it is driven, the company said.
Manor Care ordered to pay NeighborCare
Manor Care Inc. said yesterday that an arbitrator has ordered the nursing home company to pay $23.4 million in a contract dispute with a Genesis Health Ventures Inc. unit that provides pharmacy services.
The arbitrator ruled that Manor Care was wrong to terminate agreements with NeighborCare Pharmacy Services Inc. in April 1999 and must pay it for lost profit, Manor Care said in a news release. Genesis, the largest nursing home operator in Maryland, is NeighborCare's parent.
Manor Care had accused NeighborCare of breaching pricing provisions in the contracts after Medicare changed its payment method, Genesis said in a news release. The companies agreed to resolve the dispute through binding arbitration.
Comcast repairs its e-mail problems
Comcast Corp. said yesterday that it had repaired its e-mail servers and resumed distributing e-mail messages to customers after computer problems disrupted e-mail service for about 300,000 customers for more than a day.
The problems affected about 300,000 of 950,000 subscribers to Comcast's high-speed Internet access service. They began having problems receiving messages late Wednesday and couldn't receive them at all by midday Thursday.
The problems stem from Comcast's changeover from its former high-speed Internet service, operated by Excite@Home, to its own high-speed Internet network. Comcast agreed to pay $160 million to keep the Excite service running through Feb. 28 while it developed its own network.
State agency downtown closed by a water leak
Maryland's top economic development agency was closed yesterday by a water leak in the 23-story Redwood Towers that shut down the electricity, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Business and Economic Development.
Jacqui Lampell said the interruption came during the agency's regular Friday morning legislative update meeting. About 200 workers used stairs to evacuate the building at 10:30 a.m., and some staff members worked from home.
The department is scheduled to resume normal business operations Tuesday, after the Presidents Day holiday.
Nugent resigns at Revlon; Stahl reportedly next CEO
Revlon Inc. said yesterday that Jeffrey M. Nugent, the president and chief executive officer who came on board two years ago to spearhead the cosmetic giant's turnaround, has resigned.
The announcement followed a Wall Street Journal report that Chairman Ronald Perelman planned to replace Nugent with Jack Stahl, former president and chief operating officer of Coca-Cola Co.
Revlon, the maker of such products as Flex shampoo and Almay makeup, said Nugent "accomplished the strategic goals set for him two years ago when he joined the company, and he decided to seek new business opportunities."
WorldCom identifies 6 to 12 who padded sales
WorldCom Inc. said yesterday that its auditors have identified six to 12 of its salespeople who allegedly boosted their commissions by $1 million to $4 million, a situation the company says involves ethics more than finances.
The telecommunications company said it discovered the discrepancies during a regular audit in the past few weeks. The employees, most of whom are based in Arlington, Va., have been suspended without pay and are expected to resign or be fired, WorldCom said.
A spokesman said an investigation indicated that the employees "gamed" WorldCom's commission system to receive payments for sales they didn't make. "We've fixed the problem and fully expect to recover the money," he said.
Princess shareholders vote to postpone decision
Carnival Corp., the No. 1 cruise line whose $5.4 billion bid for P&O; Princess Cruises PLC sparked a shareholder revolt, won a tactical victory yesterday: Princess shareholders in London voted to postpone a meeting to decide whether to approve a merger with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
About 62.5 percent of Princess' investors chose to adjourn the meeting so that regulators in the United States and Britain would have more time to review Carnival's bid.
Nevertheless, Princess insisted that Carnival's bid is unlikely to survive regulatory scrutiny, and Royal Caribbean said it's not giving up its $3.7 billion merger plan.
This column was compiled from reports by Sun staff writers, the Associated Press and Bloomberg News.