Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

April 02, 2004

In The Region

Host Marriott plans 2006 opening for Ritz-Carlton Beijing

The Ritz-Carlton Beijing, a 320-room luxury hotel, will open in late 2006 in the Chinese capital, Host Marriott Corp. announced yesterday.

Ritz-Carlton, one of the premium brands owned by Bethesda-based Host Marriott, plans to open the hotel in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, an event expected to attract millions of visitors.

The hotel, to be located along Changnan Avenue, is designed as an integral part of a large complex that includes 230,000 square meters of office space, eight residential towers, 160,000 square meters of retail space, and an additional hotel.

Sylvan acquires Dutch online provider

Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. said yesterday that it has bought K.I.T. e-Learning B.V., a European online graduate program provider.

K.I.T., based in Amsterdam, is the worldwide distance-learning partner of the University of Liverpool. Sylvan, the Baltimore-based higher-education company, which has online universities in the United States and campus-based universities outside the country, intends to use K.I.T.'s Amsterdam office as the headquarters for its development of other international online programs.

Sylvan acquired K.I.T. for $9.4 million in cash and a future payment of up to $10 million more, based on the online provider's earnings in 2006 and 2007.

Elsewhere

Reed to remain NYSE chairman at least another year

The interim chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, former Citigroup chief executive John S. Reed, will remain in the job for at least another year, the exchange confirmed yesterday. The rest of the board of directors likely will remain as well.

Reed, 65, had agreed in September to replace ousted NYSE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard A. Grasso for several months while he searched for a permanent replacement. Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. President John Thain was named CEO of the exchange in December and began the job in January.

The NYSE board, meeting yesterday, decided to postpone the addition of any new members until April 2005. The board had put out an open call for nominations to the board in March, but with more than 110 people nominated, the panel wanted to take its time in completing a slate of new nominees.

Tyco jury is looking at defendants' statements

Jurors in the Tyco International corporate looting trial finished an 11th day of deliberations without a verdict yesterday after asking to review exhibits related to comments made by the two defendants.

The jury, which will resume its talks today, asked for exhibits relating to statements from former Tyco CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski and co-defendant Mark Swartz, the former chief financial officer, about their stock sales and company loans.

The request could indicate that the jury is focused on the securities fraud charge against the two. They are accused of falsely pumping up Tyco's stock price with their comments to investors, then profiting by selling shares.

BOA and FleetBoston now joined as No. 3 bank

Bank of America Corp. completed its $47 billion acquisition of FleetBoston Financial Corp. yesterday, creating the nation's No. 3 bank with assets estimated at $966 billion.

Bank of America now has about 35 million customers, 5,700 branches from coast to coast and 16,500 ATMs. Its assets trail only Citigroup and the planned merger between Bank One and J.P. Morgan Chase.

Nothing was said about layoffs. Some estimates have put the figure as high as 13,000 from the banks' combined work force of 181,000.

Chicago Merc trading rose to record in March

Trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the biggest U.S. futures market by transactions, rose to a record last month. More than half of trading was electronic for the first time in the exchange's 106-year history.

An average 3.06 million contracts changed hands each day in March, compared with 2.78 million a year earlier, according to the company's Web site. Nearly 51 percent of the trades were handled by computer.

Penney reported near to a sale of Eckerd chain

J.C. Penney Co. is close to completing a sale of its Eckerd drugstore chain to two bidders for about $4.4 billion in cash, two sources close to the situation told the Associated Press yesterday.

The only remaining buyers, CVS Corp. and Canada's Jean Coutu Group Inc., plan to split Eckerd, which has about 2,800 stores, the sources said.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that CVS would get about 1,200 Eckerd stores and Coutu would get the other 1,600, which are mostly in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

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

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