In the Region Lockheed Martin selling Comsat stake in...


May 31, 2002

In the Region

Lockheed Martin selling Comsat stake in Latin America

Lockheed Martin Corp., the world's largest defense contractor, plans to sell its 81 percent stake in Comsat International's operations in Latin America to closely held World Data Consortium LLC as it continues to exit the telecommunications business.

Terms weren't disclosed. The transaction, expected to close in four to six months, won't have a material effect on earnings, the company said. There are Comsat operations in India and Turkey that aren't part of the sale, spokesman Charles Manor said.

The sale follows by less than six months Bethesda-based Lockheed's revealing that it would quit the business of providing access to satellite telecommunications networks, at a cost of $1.7 billion. The company and several partners are in discussions to sell their stakes in the failed Astrolink International LLC venture to Liberty Satellite Technology Inc.

City Internet providers to form Charm Net LLC

Baltimore's two oldest Internet service providers, Charm Net Inc. and ABSnet Inc., said yesterday that they will merge. The new company will be called Charm Net LLC.

"The Baltimore region does not have cost-effective and progressive technology for carrying Internet traffic," said Erik Monti, Charm Net's chief executive. "The new Charm Net has the strength to provide the next generation of Internet services, reviving the growth of this communications medium."

Sunterra sues consultant in software incident

Sunterra Corp., a Baltimore-based vacation timeshare company, filed a lawsuit against Ernst & Young yesterday, alleging that the financial consulting company advised Sunterra to buy faulty software.

In the suit, filed in Baltimore Circuit Court, Sunterra said it fired Ernst & Young in May 1999 and had to install a new software package. Sunterra said it spent $40 million, including $7 million it paid to Ernst & Young on a process that should have cost $2 million.

Sunterra is suing for $500 million in compensatory damages and $1 billion in punitive damages.

TSI TelSys says losses for first quarter widened

TSI TelSys Corp., a Columbia company that makes satellite processing systems, said yesterday that its losses widened as revenue decreased for the first quarter.

The company reported a net loss of $398,000, or 5 cents per diluted share, on revenue of $1.5 million for the quarter that ended March 29. That compares to a profit of $9.8 million, but a loss of 1 cent per diluted share, on revenue of $1.8 million for the first quarter of last year. The loss per share despite the profit for last year's first quarter was because the number includes dividends on preferred shares that were earned but not paid.

TSI TelSys also said that James R. Chesney, the company's founder and a former board member, had been named chairman. James Adamson and Jeffrey Elliott were named advisors to the board of directors.

Sheppard Pratt opens 6-bed `upscale' unit today

Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Towson today will officially open a six-bed unit for patients paying out of pocket, featuring "upscale" suites and longer stays than generally would be covered by insurance.

Bonnie Katz, vice president for corporate business development at the psychiatric hospital, said some patients were looking for "a treatment experience, as opposed to crisis stabilization," which is what mental health insurance typically covers. Patients will pay $1,500 per day - which covers all therapy and medication - and will be expected to stay a minimum of three weeks. She said Sheppard Pratt expects the service to appeal to a national and international market.

The suites, Katz said, will be "spacious and elegantly furnished, like a tasteful bed-and-breakfast."


SEC ends delays in Web site posting of disclosure filings

The Securities and Exchange Commission said yesterday that its Web site has begun posting electronic filings as soon as disclosures are submitted, ending delays of at least 24 hours.

That means investors will no longer have to turn to third-party Web sites - some of which charge fees - to immediately read filings on SEC's Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval system, known as Edgar.

The SEC initially had imposed the 24-hour delay because Congress wanted to promote private-sector competition in disseminating the information. Now the agency says faster posting fits with its drive in the aftermath of Enron Corp.'s collapse to get information to the public sooner.

Williams Cos. to tell panel it avoided sham trades

Williams Cos., which owns the second-biggest network of U.S. interstate gas pipelines, said it will tell regulators today that its electricity-trading unit didn't engage in sham trades to increase revenue.

Williams said it will file a response today to a request by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on so-called "round-trip" trades, where energy was sold and simultaneously repurchased to inflate trading volumes and revenue, the company said in a statement late yesterday.

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