In the Region Lockheed plant in Georgia faces possible...

BUSINESS DIGEST

March 02, 2002

In the Region

Lockheed plant in Georgia faces possible strike

Lockheed Martin Corp. faces a possible strike by the biggest union at its Marietta, Ga., airplane assembly plant later this month after contract talks broke off.

The company and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers disagree about health insurance costs and job security issues, the union said. Lockheed declined to comment on specifics of the negotiations. The contract expired at midnight.

The union, which represents 2,600 of the 7,000 workers at the plant, is scheduled to vote tomorrow to accept the three-year contract offered by Lockheed or to go on strike. The plant makes the C130-J military transport plane and is to produce part of the new F-22 jet fighter.

Marriott, Cendant form joint venture on hotels

Marriott International Inc. formed a joint venture yesterday with Cendant Corp. to license Days Inn and Ramada hotel franchises, in a transaction that might end Marriott's right to the Ramada trademark in the United States.

New York-based Cendant will manage and control the venture, Marriott said. Bethesda-based Marriott is contributing rights it values at $205 million to franchise the Ramada name.

Marriott, which acquired the Ramada hotel name when it bought Renaissance Hotel Group NV in 1997, will be able to quit the joint venture after two years. Through a previous agreement, the Ramada name is licensed to Cendant for U.S. use, Marriott said. Cendant franchises Days Inn hotels worldwide.

Perdue to stop using suspect antibiotic

Perdue Farms Inc. says it will stop using a poultry antibiotic that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suspects could be responsible for the food-borne transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The decision by Salisbury-based Perdue follows moves by other poultry processors to discontinue use of the antibiotics, known as fluoroquinolones. The FDA attempted to pull the drug from the market for poultry use last year because of risk that humans can become infected with germs that resist treatment.

Perdue said fewer than one in 10,000 flocks of chickens was treated with the antibiotics.

UniverCell Holdings to acquire RentCell Inc.

UniverCell Holdings Inc. of Baltimore, an international cellular phone rental company, said yesterday that it has signed a letter of intent to acquire RentCell Inc., a privately held cellular phone rental company based in Atlanta. Terms weren't disclosed.

UniverCell's services include international cellular phone rentals and GSM (global standard for mobile communications) service. GSM is the cellular technology that enables global roaming by countries using compatible systems for cellular networks.

Elsewhere

SEC doubles a little-known stock trading fee

Plunging stock markets have caused the Securities and Exchange Commission to double a little-known trading fee, crimping efforts by Congress and the Bush administration to cut costs for investors.

The fee, collected under Section 31 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, is based on the level of trading on the Nasdaq stock market and the nation's stock exchanges. The SEC said yesterday that the fee will rise to $30.10 per $1 million of stocks sold by investors. The fee was $15. It had been lowered from $33.23 on Dec. 28

The SEC's increase illustrates how declines in stock values and trading levels have wreaked havoc on the federal government's income. A decline in taxes on capital gains and executive stock options fueled government expectations of a budget deficit for the 2002 fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, according to several economists.

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

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