In the Region EarthShell gets great news to offset the...

BUSINESS DIGEST

March 31, 2001

In the Region

EarthShell gets great news to offset the bad

EarthShell Corp.'s share price nearly doubled yesterday after the California company, which manufactures most of its products in Owings Mills, announced that McDonald's Corp. has approved its biodegradable Big Mac containers and intends to buy more of the product.

EarthShell shares rose $3 yesterday before slipping back to close at $2.50, up $1.19.

The McDonald's news came a day after EarthShell said its net loss for the fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31, increased 65 percent to $18.6 million - including an $11 million one-time charge - and that it lost $49 million for the year vs. a net loss of $44.2 million in 1999. The company has yet to report any revenue; cash generated from the McDonald's contract is booked as an offset to manufacturing costs.

Frankel's 21 luxury cars expected to bring $400,000

The fleet of mostly luxury cars owned by Martin R. Frankel, the former fugitive financier accused of orchestrating the largest insurance fraud in U.S. history, will be sold at auction next week in Edison, N.J., by EG&G Technical Services, a Maryland firm that sells seized assets.

Federal authorities seized 33 vehicles bought by Frankel or his companies before he fled his Greenwich, Conn., mansion in 1999. Frankel, 46, was arrested in Germany and has been extradited to face a racketeering trial.

Now, 21 of his cars and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle are ready for the auction block Thursday. The vehicles include three Mercedes S600s, a Mercedes S500, and a BMW 540i. Said EG&G spokeswoman Britney Bartlett: "We expect to get between $400,000 and $600,000 for the lot."

Green Isle sues Marriott over running of hotel-spa

Green Isle Partners sued Marriott International Inc. yesterday, accusing the Bethesda hotel operator of breaching contracts, falsifying records and using kickback schemes to defraud it while running Green Isle's luxury hotel and spa in Puerto Rico.

Green Isle, which seeks at least $420 million in damages, alleged in court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del., that Marriott, its high-end Ritz Carlton chain and other affiliates cost it money by forcing its hotel to buy from their vendors, making fake entries in its books and inducing it to accept a $22 million loan from a Marriott unit.

Marriott was not immediately available to comment. Ritz Carlton had no immediate comment.

Elsewhere

Northrop says purchase of Litton wins regulatory OK

Northrop Grumman Corp. said yesterday that it has received regulatory clearance to buy defense electronics and shipbuilding company Litton Industries Inc., paving way for the $3.8 billion merger.

The Litton purchase would complement the No. 5 U.S. defense contractor's stable of defense electronics businesses - it makes radars and other electronic systems in Linthicum - and solidify Northrop among the top tier of arms-makers.

Northrop also extended its tender offer for Litton shares to Monday.

WorldCom settles MCI overbilling case

WorldCom Inc. will pay up to $90 million to settle claims that its predecessor, MCI, overbilled customers for long-distance service, under a settlement approved in federal court in East St. Louis, Ill.

MCI was accused of applying a higher, nonsubscriber rate and surcharges to many of its long-distance customers between February 1996 and October 2000.

U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon heard objections that lawyers who sued MCI will take about $25 million of the $90 million settlement. But Herndon said the settlement, including those fees, was fair. Customers who believe they are eligible for refunds must file claims by April 30.

The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed to this column.

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