Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

December 19, 2003

In The Region

MeadWestvaco to cut 1,000 jobs, close facilities next year

MeadWestvaco Corp. plans to eliminate about 1,000 jobs, or 3.3 percent of its work force, and close facilities next year as part of a $500 million initiative to improve earnings.

The cuts will take place across all corporate and business units, the paper company said yesterday.

MeadWestvaco has not announced which jobs will be cut and what facilities will close, said spokeswoman Donna Cox. The company employs 1,300 at its paper mill in Luke, in Western Maryland, and 90 at a research facility in Laurel. Cox said details would be released on a quarterly basis.

MeadWestvaco, which is based in Stamford, Conn., expects to incur $75 million to $100 million in one-time costs related to the actions through the end of 2004.

Manugistics narrows loss to 27 cents a share, from 37 cents

Manugistics Group. Inc., which makes software that links businesses to their suppliers, said yesterday that its third-quarter loss narrowed as the company cut costs by 31 percent and added new customers.

The net loss in the quarter that ended Nov. 30 was $19.8 million, or 27 cents a share, from $26 million, or 37 cents, in the quarter last year. Sales fell 4 percent to $59.9 million from $62.4 million a year earlier, company spokeswoman Didi Blackwood said.

The Rockville software company, which has cut jobs and pared costs as businesses have reduced spending on computers and software, said it doesn't expect a "significant" reduction in payroll. The company, which has had 12-straight quarterly losses, will record an expense of $7 million to further reduce office space, close a product development facility and relocate workers to its Rockville headquarters.

Comcast Cable installs broadband upgrade in city

Comcast Cable said yesterday that a fiber-optic upgrade of Baltimore's cable system now makes it possible to deliver high-speed Internet service to residents across the city.

Comcast said it invested nearly $50 million in the upgrade. City residents who sign up for broadband service will get an always-on connection at speeds of up to 3 megabits per second downstream and 256 kilobits per second upstream.

The upgrade also will enable customers to connect up to five computers or devices, share equipment like printers and scanners, swap files and surf the Web faster on the same home network.

Elsewhere

RealNetworks sues Microsoft over use of `monopoly power'

RealNetworks Inc., a maker of software for playing audio and video on the Internet, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. yesterday.

The complaint was filed in federal court in San Jose, Calif., and alleges that Microsoft has "illegally used its monopoly power" to limit competition in digital media, RealNetworks said in a statement.

The company, whose founder, Rob Glaser, is a former Microsoft executive, originally worked with Microsoft on its software. RealNetworks has lost its once-dominant position in the Internet audio and video software market to Microsoft, which included its rival programs free in the Windows operating system, which runs more than 90 percent of personal computers.

FCC cites first company for violating don't-call list

Federal regulators issued the first citation against a company for violating the national do-not-call registry yesterday.

The FCC said it cited CPM Funding Inc. of Irvine, Calif., which does business as California Pacific Mortgage Inc., after getting eight consumer complaints about unwanted telemarketing calls. The FCC said the company did not dispute that it made the calls. The first step in the enforcement process is to issue a citation. Any future failure by CPM Funding to honor the registry rules will result in fines of as much as $11,000 per violation.

Americans have placed more than 55.4 million home and cell phone numbers on the registry since it began operating in October. Regulators say tens of thousands of consumers have filed complaints about violations.

U.S. Steel seeks to outbid Russians for Rouge complex

U.S. Steel Corp., the biggest steelmaker in North America, made a bid of more than $200 million yesterday for bankrupt Rouge Industries Inc. of Dearborn, Mich. in an attempt to best an offer from Russia's OAO Severstal and to protect a joint venture.

U.S. Steel spokesman John Armstrong wouldn't say if the bid is higher than the $215 million Severstal is offering. A formal court auction begins in Delaware today, and a judge will approve the winner by Monday, Armstrong said.

U.S. Steel has a 50-50 joint venture with Rouge called Double Eagle Steel Coating that galvanizes metal used in car hoods and doors.

President of Coke unit abruptly resigns

Coca-Cola Co.'s Jeffrey T. Dunn resigned as president and chief operating officer of the company's North American business yesterday after he struggled to boost sales in the No. 1 soft-drink maker's biggest market.

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