In the Region Army Corps delays its dredging opinion...

BUSINESS DIGEST

January 20, 2001

In the Region

Army Corps delays its dredging opinion until Monday

The Army Corps of Engineers put off until Monday a decision that could determine the fate of a plan to deepen the shipping channel in the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

The corps' Philadelphia District has been studying the economics of the project - originally estimated at $82 million - since 1997 and was scheduled to deliver its recommendation to corps headquarters Jan. 12. Amid rumors that the agency was preparing to recommend against spending federal tax dollars on the project, Maryland port officials asked the corps to defer its decision until new economic data could be gathered that might justify the project's cost.

The corps was originally expected to issue a response to the port's request yesterday.

Hospital workers set strike deadline

Members of the Service Employees International Union, whose contracts ended last month, voted overwhelmingly Thursday night to strike three area hospitals Jan. 31 unless they have new pacts by then. More than 1,500 workers voted by a 25-to-1 margin in favor of a one-day strike.

Negotiations with Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Sinai Hospital broke down over wage and health benefits, said Larry Ginsburg, secretary and treasurer of the union's District 1199E-DC.

The union, negotiating on behalf of 2,500 nurses aides, dietary workers, housekeepers and maintenance employees, is seeking a 6 percent annual wage increase and more-affordable health insurance for workers. Some workers make as little as $7.52 an hour, union officials said.

Wyman Park S&L parent reports lower earnings

Wyman Park Bancorporation Inc., the parent company of Wyman Park Federal Savings and Loan Association, said yesterday that its second-quarter net earnings declined to $111,000, or 15 cents per diluted share, from $113,000, or 14 cents per diluted share, in the second quarter of 1999.

The Lutherville company said the drop in net earnings in the quarter that ended Dec. 31 came from an $8,000 decrease in net interest income, partly offset by a $4,000 decrease in noninterest expense.

The company reported assets of $68.2 million and total stockholder equity of $8.3 million as of Dec. 31. At that time, the company had 822,490 shares issued and outstanding.

Elsewhere

Sara Lee may buy Thomas' muffins, other Unilever brands

Sara Lee Corp. is close to buying Thomas' English muffins, Entenmann's cakes and doughnuts and other brands from Unilever, analyst Eric Katzman of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown said yesterday.

Sara Lee, the maker of its namesake baked goods, might announce a transaction as early as next week, Katzman said in a voice-mail broadcast to investors. He didn't identify his sources.

The company might pay about $1.4 billion for the brands, which Unilever acquired when it bought Bestfoods for $24 billion in October, he said. Other brands in Bestfoods' U.S. baked-good unit, which had sales of $1.7 billion in 1999, include Arnold breads, Oroweat and Brownberry breads. It has 19 U.S. plants and 12,000 employees.

TWA trading halted; Amex moves to delist

Trans World Airlines Inc. said yesterday that it received notice from the American Stock Exchange stating that the company no longer complies with the exchange's listing guidelines.

The Amex halted trading in shares of TWA yesterday.

The St. Louis-based airline filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 Jan. 10 and said it will not appeal the delisting decision.

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

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