Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

November 07, 2003

In the Region

Former IRS chief named to board of Legg Mason

Legg Mason Inc. said yesterday that Margaret Milner Richardson, former commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, has joined its board of directors.

Richardson's expertise is in tax and financial services. She headed the government's tax agency from 1993 until 1997 and was a partner at Ernst & Young LLP from then until she retired in June.

She sits on at least four other boards, including the U.S.-Russia Business Council, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the council of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Sinclair posts earnings of $3.9 million for quarter

Sinclair Broadcast Group yesterday posted third-quarter broadcast revenue of $161.3 million, 1 percent less than the $162.9 million it gained a year ago.

The Hunt Valley company also reported net income of $3.9 million for the quarter that ended Sept. 30. It had a net loss of $24 million in last year's quarter.

Sinclair blamed the slight revenue drop on a 3 percent decline in national advertising, primarily by soft drink and movie advertisers. The company owns and operates, programs or provides sales services to 62 television stations in 39 markets.

UM trying to link start-ups with investors in D.C. area

The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship said yesterday that it has started a program that helps link entrepreneurs in the region with investors in the Washington metropolitan area.

The program, called the Capital Access Network, is for entrepreneurs of start-up companies seeking $250,000 to $1.5 million in equity financing. It serves start-ups in Maryland, Delaware, Washington and Virginia.

The Dingman Center is part of the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Essex Corp. plans offering of 4 million common shares

Essex Corp., a Columbia maker of optical systems, said yesterday that it has proposed a follow-on stock offering of up to 4 million shares of its common stock.

The company filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is not in effect yet.

Underwriters for the offering, C.E. Unterberg, Towbin and A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc., have been given a 30-day option to buy up to 150,000 additional shares from Essex and up to 450,000 additional shares from some shareholders to cover any over-allotments.

Elsewhere

No. 1 pension fund is against reforms proposed by NYSE

The California Public Employees' Retirement System has sent letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking it to reject a reform plan for the New York Stock Exchange issued Wednesday by interim Chairman John S. Reed.

Calpers, the nation's largest public pension fund with assets of $154.2 billion and 1.4 million members, also will ask other institutional investors to push for rejecting the proposal, Calpers President Sean Harrigan said on a conference call yesterday.

Harrigan said the Reed reform plan wouldn't give investors enough representation on the board; the exchange would still be self-regulated, and the proposed structure is overly complex and wouldn't likely be effective.

Harrigan said he and Calpers Chief Executive Officer Fred R. Buenrostro Jr. met with Reed yesterday to discuss the flaws.

Merrill Lynch plans to hire 650 financial advisers

Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., the world's largest brokerage, plans to add about 650 financial advisers next year, said James Gorman, president of the global private client group.

Merrill is predicting a 5 percent annual growth rate in the 13,400-person staff of its brokerage division over the next three years, assuming "reasonable" markets, Gorman said, speaking at the Securities Industry Association conference in Boca Raton, Fla.

Merrill's global private client business had pretax earnings of $466 million, up 47 percent from the third-quarter of last year. It hired 75 financial advisers in the third quarter in the United States, the first increase in head count in 11 quarters. The brokerage staff peaked at 20,200 at the end of 2000.

New SEC rules expected `sooner rather than later'

Rules that will force companies to report significant events faster will be enacted "sooner rather than later," a Securities and Exchange Commission official said yesterday.

Alan L. Beller, director of the agency's corporation finance division, couldn't say with certainty whether the rules, which greatly expand the number of material items that companies must disclose in a short time, will be enacted this year or not.

The SEC proposed the rules in June last year, one piece of a set of disclosure reform advocated by Harvey L. Pitt when he was chairman. The proposal calls for companies to file reports on 11 new items within two days after a triggering event.

Alliance confirms being targeted by regulators

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