Business Digest


July 22, 2004

In The Region

W.R. Grace earnings triple in 2nd quarter to $21.3 million

W.R. Grace & Co. reported yesterday that its second-quarter net income more than tripled, to $21.3 million, or 32 cents per share, from $6.5 million, or 10 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2003.

The Columbia-based chemical company said sales rose 13.7 percent, to $572.4 million, from $503.4 million in the year-earlier period because of higher volumes and improved product mix, as well as favorable currency translation and acquisitions.

Sales at Grace's performance chemicals division were $274.6 million, a record second quarter and 13 percent increase.

The company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2001, is developing a reorganization plan.

EarthShell cancels pact with Sweetheart Cup

EarthShell Corp. said yesterday that it has ended a licensing agreement with Owings Mills-based Sweetheart Cup Co., which has been acquired by Solo Cup Co., because Solo has failed to honor the agreement.

Santa Barbara, Calif.-based EarthShell, which also has offices in Lutherville, designs environmentally safe food service packaging and licenses its technology to manufacturers such as Sweetheart.

Sweetheart had agreed in October 2002 to manufacture EarthShell plates, lids and hinged lid containers. But because Solo has taken no action to start the manufacturing, EarthShell said, it is exploring potential new licensees within the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Emmer Builders, MIE to develop 3 projects

Catonsville-based MIE Properties Inc. and Sidney Emmer Builders Inc. will jointly develop three projects on 100 acres near Owings Mills New Town, they said yesterday.

The companies recently broke ground on the first phase, a two-story, 71,400-square-foot office building on Dolfield Boulevard. Later, they will build seven office/flex buildings and another seven buildings for restaurants and retail.

Health coalition plans medical data exchange

A coalition in the Baltimore-Washington region will get a $100,000 federal planning grant to develop a secure electronic system for exchanging information among doctors, hospitals, labs and other health care providers, the Foundation for eHealth Initiative, which administers the grants, said yesterday.

The Maryland/D.C. Collaborative for Healthcare Information Technology includes as members the three largest academic health systems in the region: Johns Hopkins Medicine, University of Maryland Medicine and MedStar Health.

Dr. Victor Plavner, chairman of the collaborative, said it would use the money to plan a pilot program linking care providers in Howard County, allowing for easy access to electronic patient records and other medical data.

Expansion at St. Joseph includes cancer center

St. Joseph Medical Center said yesterday that a 15,000- square-foot cancer center will be a feature of a new medical office building on its Towson campus. The cancer center will offer chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Construction of the 60,000-square-foot building is to begin in December, with completion by fall 2005.


Spitzer denies claim of exoneration made by former NYSE boss

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said yesterday that a 2003 report by a former prosecutor supports the claim that the former New York Stock Exchange chairman and CEO, Richard A. Grasso, manipulated his board into paying him almost $200 million.

Spitzer disputed Grasso's allegation that a report by Daniel K. Webb exonerates him. On Tuesday, Grasso alleged in a lawsuit against the exchange that the so-called Webb report failed to support a legal action against him. The report hasn't been made public.

"I have read the Webb report," Spitzer said. "There is absolutely no tension between the Webb report and the allegations that we make in our complaint. Mr. Grasso's characterization is not one I think is accurate."

While he has no plans to release the report, Spitzer said, he expects it become public as the various lawsuits make their way through the courts.

Coors, Molson to announce $6 billion merger accord

The Adolph Coors Co. and Molson Inc., the biggest Canadian beer company, agreed last night to merge in a $6 billion deal, executives close to the negotiations said.

The boards of both companies approved the transaction, which is expected to be announced today, the executives said.

The deal ends the independence of two of North America's most storied companies still under family control. Indeed, the deal appears to be motivated, in part, by the interests of both the Coors and Molson families to retain important roles in the combined company rather then sell to a global monolith like Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.

Delta tells pilots union more concessions needed

Delta Air Lines Inc. Chief Executive Officer Gerald Grinstein told the pilots union yesterday that its latest wage concession proposal to save the company up to $705 million annually is a good start, but he indicated deeper cuts will be needed for the struggling carrier to survive.

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