In the Region Rockville REIT posts 34th straight rise...

BUSINESS DIGEST

September 22, 2001

In the Region

Rockville REIT posts 34th straight rise in dividend rate

Federal Realty Investment Trust yesterday declared a 1-cent increase in its quarterly dividend to a new indicated annual rate of $1.92 per common share.

The dividend increase is the 34th consecutive one for the Rockville REIT.

The new quarterly dividend of 48 cents per share will be payable Oct. 15 to shareholders of record on Oct. 5. Federal Realty said its expects the new dividend rate will generate a dividend yield of 9.4 percent.

Elsewhere

SEC extends waiver of rules for companies buying back stock

The Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday lifted restrictions on companies buying back their own shares for a second week to help buttress prices in a stock market unnerved by fears about national security and the economy.

Using its emergency powers for the first time a week ago, the SEC eased its restrictions on corporations buying their own shares. The move was intended to smooth trading for last Monday's reopening of the market after a four-day shutdown caused by the terrorist attacks.

The special waiver of the market rules expired yesterday. But regulators extended the waiver for next week's trading, again using the SEC's emergency authority.

More bad news for tenant of World Trade Center

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. reported a 43 percent plunge in third-quarter earnings yesterday as a prolonged stock slump cut trading commissions and investment banking fees. The decline is the fourth straight for the Wall Street firm.

In the quarter that ended Aug. 31, Morgan Stanley had net earnings of $705 million, or 62 cents a share, down sharply from $1.25 billion, or $1.09 a share, in last year's third quarter.

Excluding a charge of $30 million for paying down debt, earnings were $735 million, or 65 cents a share, in the latest quarter, beating analysts' forecast by a penny a share. Revenue fell 16 percent to $5.27 billion from $6.31 billion.

The company, which was the largest single tenant in the World Trade Center, said its short-term business outlook has turned "decisively negative" as markets absorb the financial impact of last week's terrorist attacks.

While nearly all of the firm's 3,700 employees at the twin towers escaped without harm, revenue from trading and investment banking activity are likely to slow further, Chief Financial Officer Stephen Crawford told analysts on a conference call.

British hotel operator defers buying Wyndham

Hotel operator Six Continents PLC has "indefinitely deferred" its plans to buy Wyndham Hotels after the two sides failed to agree on a price, a source familiar with the talks said yesterday.

Six Continents, a London company whose brands include Holiday Inn and Inter-Continental, had spent about $12 million on due diligence since beginning talks with Wyndham in mid-May, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Spokesmen for Dallas-based Wyndham and Six Continents could not be reached for comment.

Japan to establish fund to bail out ailing banks

The Japanese government unveiled a reform plan yesterday aimed at ending a banking crisis and helping revive an economy that appears headed toward a recession.

The government will ask private investors and a state-run bank to contribute money to a fund that will be set up to bail out banks with outstanding loans unlikely to be repaid.

Despite a 1998 bailout that earmarked more than $500 billion in public money to help lift the nation's banks out of trouble, the government estimates they still are mired in at least $368 billion in problem loans.

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

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