Business Digest


In the Region

Legg Mason buys asset management business in Singapore

Legg Mason Inc., the Baltimore money management and brokerage firm that's been looking to expand outside the United States, yesterday bought the Singapore business of Rothschild Asset Management, which oversees about $1 billion.

The terms of the acquisition were not announced, though the price was less than $10 million, said Lisa Spector, a Legg Mason spokeswoman. Legg Mason will merge the unit, which employs 30 people, into its Asian money management subsidiary.

Legg Mason, which has about $237 billion under management worldwide, has been operating in Singapore since 2000 through Western Asset Management Co. and Batterymarch Financial Management Inc. The acquisition might help the company tap growth in China, the world's most populous country, Spector said.

T. Rowe Price has started new mid-cap growth fund

T. Rowe Price said yesterday that it has started Diversified Mid-Cap Growth Fund, which will invest primarily in medium-sized companies that offer long-term growth potential.

The fund, which will be managed by Donald J. Peters, is the firm's fourth mid-cap fund and its third mid-cap growth fund. Peters said the fund would give investors more income potential than historically generated from large-cap stocks, but without the volatility of small-cap stocks.

Price recently closed its Mid-Cap Growth Fund to new investors because it had grown too large. The fund's assets had ballooned to $9.8 billion as a result of cash inflows and strong investment returns.

Environmental Elements refinances bank credit

Environmental Elements Corp. said yesterday that it has restructured its bank credit facility to reduce its line of credit balance by $5 million, increase its borrowing capacity and restructure its financial covenants. In exchange for the refinancing, the company will assign its lender the rights to a long-term lease on its headquarters building on Koppers Street in Baltimore.

Lawrence Rychlak, president and chief financial officer, said the refinancing will strengthen the 50-year-old company's balance sheet, lower future interest costs and provide capital.

Environmental Elements had said that as of Sept. 30 it was not in compliance with certain financial covenants of its credit facility. The loan was to expire April 1 and provided for borrowings up of to $15 million.

Because of decreased business as of Sept. 30, the company had borrowed about $3.7 million over its limit, the company told the Securities and Exchange Commission.


Federal judge delays for a year labor disclosure law

A federal judge in Washington has delayed, by a year, regulations that were to take effect Jan. 1 requiring unions to report to the government the details of how they spend their members' dues.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled on New Year's Eve that unions needed more time to comply with "extensive and sophisticated" changes approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget in November.

Labor Secretary Elaine Chao "has simply failed to offer any reasonable justification for requiring such far-reaching changes to take place in a period of seven weeks," Kessler wrote in issuing an injunction blocking the regulations.

Mine deaths fell to 55 in 2003, a record low

The number of miners killed on the job in the United States fell to 55 in 2003, the fewest deaths since the federal government began keeping track in 1910, according to initial figures from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The previous record low was 67 deaths in 2002.

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

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