Business Digest


May 28, 2004

In The Region

Verizon to allow wireless customers to retain DSL

Verizon Communications Inc., the biggest local-telephone company in the United States, is trying to retain customers by allowing some of them to keep high-speed Internet service when they cut their phone lines and go wireless.

For the first time, Verizon customers in 12 states who are moving their local phone numbers to wireless devices can keep their high-speed Internet service, known as DSL (digital subscriber line), a spokeswoman said.

For now, local-phone customers in New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland and Vermont and Rhode Island can take advantage of Verizon's stand-alone service.

Verizon, which has about 2.7 million DSL subscribers, has said it needs 4.3 million to make the business profitable..

First Potomac buys properties in new regions

First Potomac Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust that buys and operates industrial facilities in Washington, Maryland and Virginia, agreed yesterday to buy 14 properties for $123 million to enter new markets.

Most of the 1.4 million-square-foot portfolio is located between Gaithersburg and Frederick, and includes three office buildings and one retail location, the company said. The properties are 92 percent occupied.

The company, whose largest tenant is the U.S. government, has made $222 million in acquisitions since an initial share sale in October.

Ehrlich vetoes bid to limit personal numbers' display

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has vetoed legislation that would have limited the public posting or display of Marylanders' Social Security numbers by businesses.

Ehrlich, who vetoed the bill Tuesday, said the legislation's goal of protecting numbers is laudable, but a provision that would prevent insurers from faxing or e-mailing documents with Social Security numbers on them would make it hard for companies to transact business.

Cheryl Hystad, executive director of the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, said the concerns raised could have been easily fixed by changes in business procedures and didn't warrant a veto of an important consumer protection. Most businesses backed the bill, she said.

Barker to head board of Sleep Solutions Inc.

Sleep Solutions Inc., the Annapolis company that makes home testing devices for sleep disorders, said yesterday that Jan Barker will be its new chairwoman of the board.

Barker comes to Sleep Solutions from MedVenture Associates, a California venture capital firm that is a primary investor in the company. She replaces Chairman Daniel R. Dugan, who the company said seeks "other business opportunities."


Aetna sues Abbott over 400% increase in AIDS drug's cost

Aetna Inc. has sued pharmaceutical maker Abbott Laboratories Inc., accusing it of seeking a monopoly on AIDS drugs by raising the price of its popular drug Norvir by 400 percent.

In the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the health insurer noted Abbott's December decision to raise the wholesale price for 120 100-milligram Norvir capsules to $1,028 from about $206.

Norvir was not a major AIDS drug but is increasingly used in small doses to boost the potency of some AIDS combination-drug therapies.

American Airlines raises fuel surcharge on cargo

American Airlines said yesterday that it was raising its fuel surcharge on cargo shipments to 10 cents per pound for shipments within the United States and 25 cents per kilogram for most U.S. shipments for foreign delivery.

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

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