In the Region Lockheed unit to share in Customs...

BUSINESS DIGEST

April 28, 2001

In the Region

Lockheed unit to share in Customs computer contract

A Lockheed Martin Corp. unit in Gaithersburg will share a $1.3 billion contract to upgrade the computers and processing systems for the U.S. Customs Service, federal officials announced yesterday. The Gaithersburg unit's share of the work is expected to be worth several hundred million dollars.

IBM Global Services will be the lead contractor, with Lockheed Martin Mission Systems responsible for designing and integrating the system and software. The Customs Service is upgrading its 1980s-era computer system to increase efficiency and enhance its ability to intercept contraband while processing trade.

The first stage of the system, called the Automated Commercial Environment, should be completed in 2003. The complete effort probably will take 15 years.

Celera says it completed mouse genome sequence

Celera Genomics Group said yesterday that it has finished assembling the genome of the mouse, giving scientists the DNA sequence of an animal used to model how disease and drugs affect humans.

The Rockville-based genomic information company said the mouse genome has about 2.6 billion pairs of the interlocking chemical bases that make up the code of life. That compares with 2.9 billion base pairs in the human genome.

Celera said it assembled the mouse genome exclusively with data it generated in its "factory" of sequencing computers, meaning that it did not borrow information from a publicly financed project sequencing the mouse genome.

Thayer Hotel Investors plans resort in Orlando

Annapolis-based Thayer Hotel Investors plans to spend $547 million to develop and build a 450-acre luxury resort in Orlando, Fla., the company said.

The project, called Grande Lakes Resort, will include a 585-room Ritz-Carlton hotel, a 1,000-room JW Marriott hotel, a 40,000-square-foot spa and a golf course designed by golf pro Greg Norman. It will be the city's largest hotel development when it opens in July 2003.

Thayer is a privately held real estate investment company with assets of nearly $2 billion and a portfolio of 21 hotels. Bethesda-based Marriott International will manage the Orlando hotel.

Gene Logic's president assumes chairmanship, too

Gene Logic Inc. said yesterday that its president and chief executive officer, Mark D. Gessler, also has been appointed chairman of the board.

Gessler succeeds Dr. Michael J. Brennan, who became chairman in March 2000 and will remain a director.

Brennan stepped aside as CEO of the Gaithersburg-based biomedical information company in June 2000. He is now a general partner of Oxford Bioscience Partners, a venture capital firm.

Allegheny Energy to sell 12.4 million shares

Allegheny Energy Inc. announced yesterday that it will sell 12.4 million shares of stock to raise money for the acquisition of generating plants in the Midwest and for other corporate purposes.

The Hagerstown-based company also granted underwriters a 30-day option to buy up to 1.86 million additional shares to cover possible over-allotments.

The public offering is expected to provide $598.3 million, based on a share price of $48.25. Allegheny's common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Corvis stock takes beating after prediction for year

Corvis Corp. shares fell 19 percent a day after the maker of fiber-optic networking equipment said it expected its full-year loss will be at the low end of analysts' estimates. The shares of Corvis fell $1.49 to $6.40. The shares have fallen 82 percent since first being offered to the public in July.

Analysts' loss estimates in a Thomson Financial/First Call survey range from 18 cents to 25 cents, with an average of 23 cents. CIBC World Markets and Salomon Smith Barney cut their ratings on Corvis shares yesterday as the company forecast lower margins for several quarters as it struggles to gain new customers.

Corvis is filling earlier orders from Broadwing Inc. and Williams Communications Group Inc. for its products that boost the capacity of long-distance networks. The company said it won't gain new customers until the second half.

Elsewhere

Beech-Nut, Heinz call off merger after court ruling

H. J. Heinz Co. and Beech-Nut called off their proposed $185 million merger yesterday after an appeals court temporarily blocked the deal, pending a review by the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC wanted to block the merger while it studied the proposed combination, which would leave the national baby food market with only two major players, Gerber Products Co. and Heinz.

The FTC has indicated that the companies will have difficulty proving that the merger would not restrict competition in the estimated $865 million to $1 billion annual market for jarred baby food. Heinz is the nation's second-largest baby food company; Beech-Nut is third-largest.

Delta commuter airline to lay off 2,000 over strike

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