Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

August 04, 2004

In the Region

Port coal terminal operator loses bid for tax exemption

A port of Baltimore coal terminal operated by Consolidation Coal Sales Co., now known as CNX Marine Terminals Inc., is not entitled to an exemption from the state's personal property tax, the Maryland Court of Appeals said in an opinion yesterday.

A favorable ruling from the court would have meant a refund of more than $8 million in taxes and interest from Baltimore.

Consolidation Coal, a subsidiary of Pittsburgh-based Consul Energy Inc. that stores, ships and blends coal, had appealed personal property tax assessments of as much as $13.4 million a year from 1997 through 2000, saying its blending process makes it eligible for a tax exemption available to manufacturers in Maryland.

The company, which has paid all taxes due the city through 2003, said yesterday that it had no plans to appeal the decision. Had the city lost the case, it would have had to refund the company $8.2 million for taxes paid from 1997 through 2003, including interest.

Guilford drug wins greater Medicare access

Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc. said yesterday that its Gliadel wafer, the Baltimore firm's proprietary brain-cancer therapy, was given an improved classification by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - a development that the company says will improve patient access to the treatment.

The reclassification will increase the payment to hospitals that use Gliadel when treating Medicare patients, increasing the likelihood those institutions will use the therapy, the company has said.

Gliadel is one of Guilford's key products, and the company said the reclassification will take effect Oct. 1. Gliadel is approved for use in patients who are newly diagnosed with a "high-grade malignant glioma," as an adjunct to surgery and radiation, the biotechnology firm said. Guilford said Gliadel is also available to patients with certain kinds of recurrent brain cancer, again as an adjunct to surgery and radiation treatment.

EntreMed narrows 2Q loss from 19 cents a share to 12 cents

EntreMed Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology firm in Rockville, reported yesterday a second-quarter net loss of $4.2 million, or 12 cents per share, an improvement from its net loss of $5.3 million, or 19 cents per share, for the comparable quarter last year.

Revenue for the second quarter, which ended June 30, was about $139,000, down from $286,000 for the second quarter a year ago.

EntreMed, which is working on treatments for cancer, also said President and Chief Executive Officer James S. Burns joined the board of directors. Burns was hired in mid-June.

Elsewhere

Bristol-Myers, SEC near accord on case alleging inflated sales

Pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., the maker of Excedrin, Plavix and Pravachol, likely will pay about $75 million to settle federal regulators' charges that it improperly manipulated its inventory of drugs to inflate its reported sales, a person familiar with the matter told the Associated Press yesterday.

The Securities and Exchange Commission could announce the settlement with Bristol-Myers today, the person said on condition of anonymity, confirming a report by The Wall Street Journal. Spokesmen for Bristol-Myers couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

It would be one of the largest SEC penalties in recent years for alleged accounting violations against a viable company that continues to operate. In 2002, Xerox Corp. paid a $10 million fine, the largest ever at the time, to resolve allegations of accounting fraud.

SEC, NYSE fine Fidelity $2 million over lost data

Fidelity Brokerage Services agreed yesterday to pay $2 million in fines to settle allegations by federal regulators and the New York Stock Exchange that employees in nearly two dozen of its branch offices altered and destroyed documents prior to annual inspections.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the NYSE, which conducted a joint investigation, each levied $1 million fines against Fidelity Brokerage, one of the nation's largest brokerage firms with an estimated 11.7 million retail customer accounts and 1,500 institutional accounts.

The document tampering and destruction was pervasive throughout the firm's branch offices, the regulators said. At least 62 employees allegedly engaged in it in at least 21 of the firm's 98 branch offices, mostly in Western states.

The records were said to include applications to open brokerage accounts, authorization letters for trades and other financial documents.

Wachovia faces possible SEC enforcement action

Wachovia Corp. said yesterday that regulators are preparing a possible enforcement action against the bank and current and former executives related to stock purchases and allegations of improper mutual-fund trading.

The stock transactions occurred after the April 2001 announcement that First Union Corp. would buy Wachovia and take its name. Wachovia Chief Executive Officer Kennedy Thompson, 53, said last year that the purchases were proper.

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