BUSINESS DIGEST

The Baltimore Sun

Maryland: Government

4 area leaders get state jobs

Four Baltimore-area government and civic leaders have been named to jobs at the state Department of Business and Economic Development, the agency said yesterday. Samuel J. Lloyd, formerly Baltimore's director of minority business development, was appointed assistant secretary for small business. Dominick E. Murray, who was economic development officer for the Baltimore Mayor's Office under now-Gov. Martin O'Malley, was named assistant secretary for regional development for the Baltimore region. Devon L. Dodson, formerly vice president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, was named chief of staff. David Tillman, a spokesman for the city's housing agency, was appointed executive director of public affairs.

Jamie Smith Hopkins

Disputes

Visicu faults iMDsoft statement

Visicu Inc., the Baltimore company that develops remote monitoring systems for intensive care patients, yesterday dismissed an announcement by iMDsoft, a competitor who is bringing a challenge to Visicu's patent. "It's a last gasp of desperation on their part," Dr. Brian A. Rosenfeld, a Visicu founder and senior vice president, said. Earlier in the day, Massachusetts-based iMDsoft said that as part of the patent challenge, Visicu is "limiting all its patent claims." Phyllis Gotlib, chief executive officer of Massachusetts-based iMDsoft, said, "It clearly strengthens our competitive position in the market." Rosenfeld said what had been issued by the U.S. Patent Office was a meeting summary, not a ruling, and it "adds clarity to our claim."

M. William Salganik

Airlines

AirTran to begin BWI-Maine service

AirTran Airway said yesterday that it will begin seasonal service to Portland International Jetport in Maine from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on June 7. The carrier will offer three daily round-trip flights between Portland and BWI, connecting to 13 destinations. Portland will be AirTran's 56th city. The low-fare carrier will also begin service from Portland to Orlando International in Florida on June 9 with one daily round-trip flight.

Meredith Cohn

Personnel

Legg Mason names Angelica to board

Legg Mason Inc., a U.S. money manager that oversees $945 billion, said former AT&T; Inc. pension manager Robert Angelica will replace Carl Bildt on its board. Bildt stepped down as a board director in October to become Sweden's minister of foreign affairs, the Baltimore-based company said yesterday. Angelica retired last year as head of AT&T; Investment Management Corp., which handles the retirement assets of the largest U.S. telephone company. Angelica's appointment raises the number of members on Legg Mason's board to 13, with 12 who are independent.

Pennsylvania: Investing

Harley lowers profit forecast

Harley-Davidson Inc. cut its profit forecast for this year, saying a three-week strike at its York, Pa., factory reduced motorcycle production more than it initially estimated. Full-year earnings will increase by a range of 4 percent to 6 percent, the Milwaukee-based company said. Harley in January forecast annual growth of 11 percent to 17 percent each year through 2009, and reiterated that profit goal yesterday. Harley said it expected to ship up to 66,000 bikes this quarter, a reduction from a forecast of up to 84,000 earlier this month.

Nation: Automakers

Chrysler offers $100,000 buyouts

Chrysler Group will offer blue-collar workers at plants targeted for production cuts up to $100,000 each to leave the company as part of a recovery plan announced earlier this month. Under the buyout offer, workers would receive a pretax lump-sum payment of $100,000 plus six months of medical and vision coverage in exchange for their departure. The early retirement package includes a $70,000 payment, plus health care that follows provisions of the United Auto Workers' national agreement.

Compensation

FedEx capping pension plan

FedEx Corp. is capping the traditional pension plan offered for most of its employees. Instead it will offer a cash balance plan, which lets workers take benefits with them if they leave the company. Under FedEx's program, disclosed yesterday, most employees who participate in a pension plan will begin accruing benefits under a cash-balance formula, which FedEx calls the Portable Pension Account, effective June 1, 2008. Current retirees won't be affected, FedEx said.

Retailing

Pathmark, A&P; are in talks

Two of the biggest Eastern U.S. supermarket chains, Pathmark Stores and the parent of A&P;, are in talks about a possible combination, the companies said late yesterday. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Inc., one of the country's oldest supermarket companies, said it is negotiating to acquire rival Pathmark Stores Inc. of Carteret, N.J. Both companies said in separate statements that the proposed cash-and-stock deal would pay Pathmark stockholders a possible $12.50 per share. Great Atlantic, based in Montvale, N.J., said no deal has been reached and if an agreement is reached, shareholder and state and federal regulatory approvals will be required. Great Atlantic has nearly 43,000 employees and 410 stores in the District of Columbia and nine states, including Maryland.

Courts

Ex-FDA chief gets 3 years' probation

A judge sentenced former Food and Drug Administration chief Lester Crawford to three years' supervised probation yesterday with fines of about $90,000 for lying about stocks he owned in companies regulated by his agency.

Airlines

JetBlue flight diverted to Philadelphia

A JetBlue flight heading to New York was diverted yesterday to Philadelphia, prompting the airline to bus passengers to their final destination. The airline, which went on the defensive after stranding passengers in planes at John F. Kennedy International Airport for up to 10 1/2 hours this month, does not operate at Philadelphia International Airport. Flight 1050 from Pittsburgh to JFK landed at 8:35 a.m. in Philadelphia after crew members discovered a problem with an indicator light, a spokesman said. The 54 passengers were given the option to disembark. About 15 passengers chose to wait for an airline bus that left for New York about four hours after landing.

Acquisitions

Volvo reaches deal with Ingersoll-Rand

Sweden's AB Volvo said yesterday that it agreed to buy the road construction equipment division of Ingersoll-Rand Co. for $1.3 billion in cash to expand its operations, particularly in the United States. The Ingersoll-Rand business, operated from Shippensburg, Pa., had revenue of $864 million in 2006 and employs about 2,100 people.

Regulation

Fannie expects cost-cutting benefit

Fannie Mae said yesterday that its recent cost-cutting measures should yield a $200 million reduction in operating expenses this year as the mortgage giant continues to remake itself in the aftermath of its multibillion-dollar accounting scandal. The government-sponsored company, which finances one of every five home loans in the United States, also noted that its internal financial controls continued to be weak last year. Fannie Mae said in its Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it would miss a regulatory deadline for submitting its financial report for 2006. In December, the company announced a long-awaited restatement for 2001 through mid-2004 that erased $6.3 billion in previously reported profit. Fannie Mae has said it expects to file its financial statements for 2005 by August and its 2006 report by the end of this year. The accounting scandal that erupted in September 2004 brought the ouster of top company executives and a record $400 million civil fine in a settlement with federal regulators last year.

This column was compiled from dispatches by Sun reporters, the Associated Press and Bloomberg News.

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