Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

December 05, 2003

In The Region

Marriott is paid $36.3 million for 9/11 claims in N.Y.

Marriott International Inc., the largest U.S. hotel operator, said yesterday that it received a $36.3 million insurance payment for a hotel destroyed in the World Trade Center attacks.

The payment settles the company's claims stemming from the loss of the New York Marriott World Trade Center hotel when the center's South Tower collapsed Sept. 11, 2001, Marriott said. The Bethesda company managed the 820-room hotel.

Host Marriott Corp., which leased the property from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said Wednesday that it received a $370 million settlement related to the property's destruction. Host Marriott is the real estate investment trust created in the 1992 split of the former Marriott Corp.

OC cable customers to get high-speed Web access

Cable customers in the Ocean City area will get access to high-speed Internet service and home networking with the completion of a $10 million fiber-optic upgrade to Comcast Cable's system next spring, company officials said yesterday.

The upgrade began in August in Berlin and has moved into Ocean City. Next month, customers there also will receive nine new TV channels that include Court TV, Food Network and Great American Country.

MAMSI deal needs extra time for antitrust review

UnitedHealth Group, a major Minnesota insurer, said yesterday that it voluntarily is refiling its plan to buy Mid Atlantic Medical Services Inc. of Rockville to allow more time for federal antitrust officials to review the proposed deal. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, UnitedHealth said it still expects the MAMSI acquisition to close in the first quarter next year.

If antitrust regulators and shareholders approve the deal, United would pay $2.95 billion for MAMSI, adding about 2 million members to United's 19 million. MAMSI has the second-largest share of Maryland's health insurance market, and operates in seven states in the region.

The deal was announced Oct. 27. United said in its filing that the 30-day antitrust review period would have expired Wednesday. It said it would refile today, restarting the 30-day clock for the Department of Justice antitrust review.

Elsewhere

Judge OKs settlement of $143 million in music antitrust suit

A federal judge in Portland, Maine, approved a $143 million settlement yesterday of a lawsuit that accused major record companies and large music retailers of conspiring to set minimum music prices.

Under the settlement signed by U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby, 3.5 million people who signed on to an antitrust lawsuit are to receive shares of the award.

Checks for $12.60 are expected to be mailed out within a couple of weeks to the millions who mailed in claims and submitted them online.

The lawsuit, which was signed by the attorneys general of 43 states and territories and consolidated in Portland in October 2000, accused major record labels and large music retailers of conspiring to set minimum music prices.

2 Kansas utility executives indicted in theft of millions

Two former executives of Westar Energy Inc. face dozens of charges alleging they stole millions of dollars from the utility, and tried to cover up the crimes by destroying evidence and firing employees, federal officials said yesterday.

A federal grand jury in Topeka, Kan., returned the indictments late Wednesday against former Westar Chief Executive Officer David Wittig, 48, of Topeka, and former Executive Vice President Douglas Lake, 53, of New Canaan, Conn.

Federal authorities are seeking the return of $25 million from Wittig and $7 million from Lake. Prosecutors say the money derived from illegal activities. In addition, prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of Wittig's mansion, including nearly $2 million in art and interior furnishings, and his 2001 Ferrari.

Westar is the largest electric company in Kansas, serving about 640,000 business and residential customers.

The indictments allege Wittig and Lake "sought to systematically loot Westar of money and assets" and hindered the grand jury's investigation by deleting or destroying records.

FedEx air, ground rates to rise beginning Jan. 5

FedEx Corp. is raising its rates for air and ground shipments effective Jan 5.

FedEx Express, the company's cargo airline, will boost rates an average of 2.5 percent for domestic and foreign shipments, the package delivery company said yesterday. FedEx Ground domestic rates will increase an average of 1.9 percent, which will match what chief rival UPS Corp. is boosting its ground shipping rates on the same date.

Other FedEx rate changes will include a surcharge of $1 per package for ground shipments sent to commercial locations in select ZIP codes and an increase from the current $1.15 to $1.40 for home delivery. In general, the surcharge for select ZIP codes includes sparsely populated areas or those that generate little shipping traffic.

FAO Schwarz's parent files for Chapter 11 protection

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