Business Digest


March 07, 2003

In The Region

COPT pays $18 million for USinternetworking building in Annapolis

Corporate Office Properties Trust said yesterday that it has purchased a two-story building in Annapolis for $18 million.

The 155,000-square-foot building, at 2500 Riva Road, is occupied by USinternetworking Inc. The Internet application service provider sold the building to Columbia-based COPT and leased it back.

The site includes land for potential development, although none is currently planned, COPT said.

Affiliated Computer to add jobs in Frostburg

Affiliated Computer Services Inc. says it plans to add 100 jobs at the former calling center in Frostburg. The center, which employs 530, was among the assets ACS acquired when it bought CyberRep in January.

ACS is expanding the center at the Frostburg Plaza, General Manager Michael Lermer said. The center serves clients such as Nextel, VitaPower and GB Data.


Morse is sole leader of Citigroup global investment banking

Citigroup Inc. named Robert Morse sole head yesterday of its global investment bank, the world's biggest earner of fees in 2002 from securities underwriting and corporate advice, making him a candidate to take over Salomon Smith Barney.

Morse, 47, has shared the job since 1999 with Michael Klein, 39, who will become chief executive officer of corporate and investment banking for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, a spokeswoman said.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sanford I. Weill, who turns 70 March 16, has been shuffling management at the world's largest financial services company after government claims that it misled investors with biased stock research to win banking business. Citigroup agreed in December to pay $400 million, the biggest share of an industrywide settlement of the probe.

United Airlines to furlough 900 flight attendants April 1

United Airlines is laying off another 900 flight attendants next month as it continues to lose money in bankruptcy.

United, which this week reported a net loss of $382 million for January during its first full calendar month in bankruptcy proceedings, blamed economic reasons for the action and said it has a surplus of flight attendants based on current service. The Association of Flight Attendants attributed the move to lighter-than-expected passenger traffic.

A spokesman said the carrier would seek volunteers for the furloughs, which take effect April 1. Under the furlough program, workers are laid off but can be recalled.

Microsoft to issue first dividend today

Microsoft Corp. is issuing its first dividend today, shelling out more than $850 million to shareholders, from the smallest investor up to co-founder Bill Gates.

At 8 cents a share, the annual payout won't be huge to the average investor, analysts said. But it marks a significant change for the software company that went public in 1986 and has long hoarded its cash - now $43.4 billion - for research, acquisitions and legal claims.

Of course, there are the not-so-average investors. Gates, who directly owns more than 1.2 billion shares of stock in the company he helped found in 1975, will receive a dividend of about $96.5 million. Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer will receive about $37.7 million.

Blockbuster wins dismissal of lawsuit over late fees

Blockbuster Inc., the world's largest video-rental chain, won the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a customer who claimed the company charged excessive late fees.

A state judge in Oakland, Calif., dismissed Susan Pickens' lawsuit yesterday, saying the fees were adequately disclosed and under the customer's control, a Blockbuster spokesman said yesterday.

Blockbuster changed its late-fee policy in 2000 to allow customers to keep rentals for two nights and charge customers for an additional two-day rental period even if the deadline is missed by only a few hours.

Sherpa to set up cybercafe at Everest base camp

Fifty years after Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay conquered Mount Everest, another Sherpa is determined to set up a cybercafe at the 17,400-foot-high base camp of the world's highest mountain.

Besides freezing temperatures and storms, there is no electricity or plumbing at the site. There aren't any permanent buildings, either, and the Internet cafe will be housed in a temporary structure because the base camp sits on a glacier that moves a few inches a day.

Tsering Gyalzen, the entrepreneur who is planning the project, said the cafe will open only during the spring and fall, when hundreds of mountaineers come to climb Everest and surrounding mountains in the Khumbu region. The site could be used by climbers to send e-mail and call for help in emergencies.

Motorola to pay $12 million to settle 5 Iridium lawsuits

Motorola Inc. said yesterday that it will pay $12 million to settle the five remaining lawsuits by Chase Manhattan Bank concerning its ill-fated involvement with satellite phone company Iridium LLC.

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