Blockbuster, Viacom deal shakyIn the strongest sign to...

BUSINESS DIGEST

May 06, 1994

Blockbuster, Viacom deal shaky

In the strongest sign to date of a breakdown in the merger agreement between Viacom Inc. and Blockbuster Entertainment Corp., the chairman of Blockbuster, H. Wayne Huizenga, sent a letter to his shareholders yesterday saying there "could be no assurance the board could recommend a transaction" with Viacom.

Mr. Huizenga's letter said that while the combination still offers "an excellent strategic opportunity," the price has fallen 35 percent and may no longer be right.

The value of the deal, negotiated in January, has been eroded by a decline in Viacom's stock.

IBM to reorganize sales force

International Business Machines Corp. is scheduled to announce today a reorganization of its sales forces into 14 separate staffs serving specific industries, consultants said.

IBM officials acknowledged that the long-expected move will be announced today but declined to provide specifics before employees are told.

The reshuffling is a bid to sharpen IBM's focus on selling technology "solutions," rather than hardware and software products, analysts said.

Leeds bank posts earnings drop

Leeds Federal Savings Bank, which last week converted from a mutual to a publicly traded stock institution, yesterday reported lower first-quarter earnings. The company, with $259 million in assets, earned $759,000 during the quarter ended March 31, compared with $1.0 million a year ago.

The Baltimore thrift formed a mutual holding company on April 29 called Leeds Bankshares M.H.C. and sold 1.2 million shares of stock at $10 a share. Another 2.2 million shares were issued to the holding company. The stock, which trades on the Nasdaq system under the symbol LFED, closed at $10.8125 a share yesterday, off 0.0625 cents.

Legg Mason forms media group

Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. has formed a media and communications group and has hired Michael J. Davies, former publisher of The Baltimore Sun, as a managing director in the group, the company has announced.

The Baltimore-based investment banking company, owned by Legg Mason Inc., said the new group consists of four managing directors who will specialize in mergers and acquisitions, as well as debt and equity financings, in the media field.

Griffith's profits double

Petroleum products retailer Griffith Consumers Co. said its profit for its third quarter nearly doubled from the same period last year, thanks to cold weather and the June acquisition of Steuart Petroleum Co.'s heating oil division.

Cheverly-based Griffith's net income for the three months ended March 31 was $4.51 million, or $1.91 per share, up from $2.27 million, or 96 cents per share, in the first three months of 1993. Revenue rose to $62 million from $43 million.

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