Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

February 27, 2004

In the Region

Arundel Mills owner to move offices to Md. from Va.

Mills Corp. plans to move its headquarters from Northern Virginia to Montgomery County, state and local officials said yesterday.

The company is expected to bring about 300 jobs with it when it moves from Arlington, Va., to a new office development in Chevy Chase by the end of 2006. The real estate investment trust owns 27 malls and retail centers worldwide, including Arundel Mills in Anne Arundel County and Potomac Mills in Prince William, Va.

Montgomery County is to provide a $470,000 grant and the state a $1.16 million grant as part of the agreement for the move.

Constellation forms new gas-supply division

Constellation Energy Group said yesterday that it has consolidated three gas supply subsidiaries into a new division called Constellation NewEnergy-Gas Division, which will provide natural gas to businesses in North America.

The subsidiaries are Alliance Energy Services, Blackhawk Energy Services and Kaztex Energy Management.

Customers of the NewEnergy-Gas Division include more than 2,700 large commercial, industrial, municipal and power generation facilities that use more than 250 billion cubic feet of natural gas annually.

Kassinger nominated for Commerce deputy

President Bush has nominated Theodore W. Kassinger, a Maryland resident, as deputy secretary of Commerce.

Kassinger, a former international trade counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, currently is the Commerce Department's general counsel. Bush sent the nomination to the Senate earlier this week.

Elsewhere

Government moves to block Oracle, PeopleSoft deal

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit yesterday to block Oracle Corp.'s proposed $9.4 billion hostile takeover of software rival PeopleSoft Inc.

"We believe this transaction is anti-competitive, pure and simple," said R. Hewitt Pate, assistant attorney general in charge of the antitrust division.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, contends that the proposed merger of two top business software companies would lead to higher prices, less innovation and fewer choices for customers. Seven states joined the Justice Department in filing the lawsuit.

FleetBoston Financial places 8 on leave

FleetBoston Financial Corp. has placed on leave eight portfolio managers and executives at its Columbia Funds subsidiary in the wake of civil charges this week alleging the firm tolerated improper trading by big clients at the expense of ordinary shareholders.

Spokesman Charles Salmans confirmed that the company suspended eight individuals but declined to identify them.

Acknowledge violations, fund industry is urged

Top officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the New York attorney general's office told mutual fund representatives yesterday that fund companies that step forward and acknowledge violations of securities laws will fare better than those that do not.

At a conference in New York on mutual fund reform, SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins spoke bluntly about the industry's failures to police itself, resulting in charges of illegal trading to inflate fund prices, unethical payments to brokers to promote certain funds and unfair fee structures.

In separate speeches, Atkins and David Brown, chief of the New York Attorney General's Investment Protection Bureau, said many fund companies have not been forthcoming in the state's investigation of illegal trading, broker relationships and unfair fees.

This column was compiled from reports by Sun staff writers, the Associated Press and Bloomberg News.

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