In the Region Books-A-Million wins OK to buy 19 Crown...

BUSINESS DIGEST

March 20, 2001

In the Region

Books-A-Million wins OK to buy 19 Crown stores

Books-A-Million Inc., the third-largest U.S. book retailer, said yesterday that it won a federal judge's approval for its bid to acquire 19 Crown Books Corp. stores as part of Crown's bankruptcy liquidation.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath in Wilmington, Del., approved Books-A-Million's offer to assume leases on 19 Crown stores in the Washington and Chicago areas, Books-A-Million said. The company already had purchased the stores' book inventories.

Crown, the fourth-largest U.S. bookstore chain, filed Feb. 12 for protection from creditors, shortly after announcing closures of 28 stores. The bankruptcy filing was the second in less than three years by the Largo-based retailer. Crown officials want to sell the retailer's other 62 stores.

6,000 car dealerships line up with Aether

Aether Systems, Inc., an Owings Mills-based wireless communications company, announced a deal yesterday to provide 6,000 car dealerships with wireless access to MSN Carpoint, a car-buying Web site.

The service will allow car dealers to respond more quickly to potential car buyers. It also will provide better tracking of buyer data and e-mail capability on Blackberry-model handheld devices.

Carpoint Inc. describes itself as the most visited online automotive marketplace, with more than 6 million consumer visits a month that generate $8 billion a year in auto sales.

Digene stock down, offering being canceled

Digene Inc. said yesterday that it has scratched a planned second offering of about 2.5 million shares of common stock because of market conditions.

The Gaithersburg maker of diagnostic tests said it had filed an application with the Securities and Exchange Commission to cancel the offering. It filed to sell the shares last month.

Shares of Digene closed at $17.38 yesterday, up $1.63 but sharply down from a year ago when they touched $50.

Corvis announces record-swift system

Corvis Corp. announced yesterday a new product that will carry information along a fiber-optic network at what it says is a record-breaking pace.

Columbia-based Corvis, which makes equipment for fiber-optic networks, said its new CorWave LR system can move information from city to city at the rate of 3.2 terabits per second. (One terabit is equal to 1 trillion bits.) Corvis says that capacity is the highest in the industry.

Magellan to serve Michigan state workers

Magellan Health Services Inc. of Columbia said yesterday that it has won a contract to manage mental health and substance abuse services for state employees in Michigan.

The three-year process, won in competitive bidding, covers about 140,000 state workers, retirees and dependants.

Magellan manages mental health benefits for about 70 million people, contracting with more than 3,000 health insurers, government agencies, employers and unions.

Rand Interactive wins federal contract

Rand Interactive Inc. was awarded a five-year contract by the General Services Administration to provide information technology and interactive services to federal government agencies.

Rand estimates the contract to be worth more than $7.5 million over five years, with renewal options for up to 15 years.

The Baltimore company, owned by Change Technology Partners Inc. of Greenwich, Conn., provides Internet and new media products and services.

Caliber in partnership with Wildlife Federation

Caliber Learning Network Inc., a Baltimore company that provides training online, said yesterday that it has formed a partnership with the National Wildlife Federation. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Through the partnership, the Wildlife Federation bought a Caliber studio for its Reston, Va., headquarters, where "virtual" lectures and lessons about nature will be filmed.

More than 4 million Wildlife Federation members will be able to access the lessons on the Internet or at one of Caliber's 40 classrooms around the country.

Elsewhere

Interpublic to buy True North for $2.1 billion in stock

Interpublic Group of Cos. Inc. has agreed to buy rival advertising group True North Communications Inc. for $2.1 billion in stock, creating the world's No. 1 advertising and marketing communications concern, the companies said yesterday.

The merged company would have annual revenue of $7.2 billion and supplant WPP Group PLC of Britain as the largest advertising group in the world. At present Interpublic ranks No. 3.

The deal will give Interpublic ownership of True North's FCB Worldwide, the No. 4 U.S. ad agency.

Daewoo to eliminate 6,500 overseas jobs

Ailing Daewoo Motor Co. said yesterday that it plans to eliminate 6,500 of the 46,000 jobs at its overseas production and sales units this year.

The move is in line with the restructuring program at Daewoo, which is trying to make itself a more attractive candidate for a takeover by U.S. auto giant General Motors Corp. Daewoo has cut its domestic work force by more than 30 percent, to 10,000, in the past year.

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