Business Digest


October 05, 2004

In The Region

Lockheed wins pact with post office for as much as $3 billion

Lockheed Martin Corp., the largest supplier of computer networks and related services to the U.S. government, won a contract worth as much as $3 billion to provide and manage computer networks for the Postal Service.

The six-year contract, which also includes four three-year options, covers the installation and management of networks for data, voice, video and wireless communications at more than 37,000 locations, Judy Marks, president of Lockheed Martin Distribution Technologies, said in a conference call.

The contract marks the first time the Postal Service has awarded a telecommunications contract to manage all of its network services to one company. It expands the Bethesda company's relationship of more than 40 years with the Postal Service.

Royal Ahold `confident' of selling $3 billion in assets

Royal Ahold NV, owner of the Giant and Stop & Shop supermarket chains in the United States, said yesterday that it is "confident" it can reach its goal of raising 2.5 billion euros ($3.1 billion) through asset sales by the end of next year after agreeing to sell its Spanish business to Permira Advisers Ltd.

"We are on schedule with our divestment program," said Walter Samuels, a spokesman for Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold.

Ahold agreed yesterday to sell the division to Permira of London, the manager of Europe's biggest buyout fund, for about 685 million euros. The grocer has now completed sales or received purchase commitments worth about 1.9 billion euros.

Black & Decker completes purchase of tool group

Black & Decker Corp. said yesterday that it has completed the purchase of the Tools Group from Pentair Inc. for about $775 million in cash, marking the company's biggest acquisition in more than a decade.

The acquisition will help the Towson company sell more power tools in the booming commercial construction industry, it had said when it announced the deal in July.

Black & Decker, the nation's top power tool manufacturer, sells its own brand for consumers and the DeWalt professional line. With the purchase, it will gain several big-name brands, such as Porter-Cable, Delta and DeVilbiss Air Power. Experts expect the additional brands to expand product offerings in lines where Black & Decker has low market share.

Calvert Group to offer two new value funds

Calvert Group, one of the nation's largest families of socially responsible mutual funds, said yesterday that it is offering investors two new value funds: the Calvert Small Cap Value and the Calvert Mid Cap Value funds.

Calvert, based in Bethesda, makes investments using corporate social responsibility criteria such as ethics, workplace and environmental practices, product safety and human rights. It has 12 other mutual funds.

The funds are managed by Eric McKissack of Channing Capital Management LLC.

Baig joins T. Rowe Price international subsidiary

T. Rowe Price Group Inc., the Baltimore mutual fund house, said yesterday that its international subsidiary, T. Rowe Price International, named Kamran Baig director of non-U.S. equity research.

Baig will work in London and oversee a team of 20 analysts. Before joining Price, Baig was co-head of European research at Goldman Sachs asset management. A capital goods analyst, Baig was selected twice to Institutional Investor's Best of the Buyside in 2001 and 2002.

Md. venture fund investor opens Silicon Valley office

Montagu Newhall Associates, an investor in venture capital funds, said yesterday that it has opened an office in Silicon Valley.

The firm, which was founded in 2001 and has an office in Owings Mills, also said that it has hired Jim Lim as a partner. Lim was most recently director of venture capital at Commonfund Capital, which manages nearly $5.5 billion in commitments.


Illinois, Wisconsin launch 1st state drug import program

The governors of Illinois and Wisconsin launched yesterday the first state-sponsored program to help residents buy cheaper prescription drugs from both Europe and Canada - despite federal laws banning prescription drug importation.

The I-SaveRx program, which works through a Canadian clearinghouse, claims it can save residents 25 percent to 50 percent off U.S. retail prices on about 100 prescription medications.

By including pharmacies in Ireland and the United Kingdom, I-SaveRx goes beyond programs in other states that direct residents on how to buy prescription drugs from Canada, where drugs are often cheaper because of government price controls.

WeddingStores enters Chapter 7 bankruptcy

WeddingStores Inc. of Altoona, Pa., which has been selling bridal gowns for more than a century, has entered Chapter 7 bankruptcy, ending almost any chance its Kaufman's Wedding World stores will reopen.

Objections to a bankruptcy judge's order filed Friday can be filed within 10 days, but that is unlikely, an attorney for the chain said yesterday. Chapter 7 bankruptcy would require the company to sell its assets.

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