Business Digest


October 06, 2004

In the Region

CareFirst trying to maintain ties to Delaware plan

A CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield spokesman said yesterday that the health insurer is seeking a way to maintain an affiliation with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Delaware in light of conflicting rulings from insurance regulators in Delaware and Maryland and from a Delaware court.

"We've got to reconcile the differences of the regulators and the courts in the different jurisdictions," Jeffery W. Valentine said.

The Delaware plan has been an affiliate of CareFirst since 2000, and was seeking a looser connection that would allow it to sever itself from the regional insurer if it chose.

Judge Joseph R. Slights III upheld Monday in New Castle County Superior Court a ruling by Delaware's insurance commissioner directing that the change proceed. The same day, Maryland Insurance Commissioner, Alfred W. Redmer Jr. ordered CareFirst not to make the change, saying it could amount to Maryland subscribers subsidizing those in Delaware. The Delaware Blue Cross unit accounts for about 350,000 of CareFirst's 3.2 million members.

Pitney Bowes to buy some Ancora assets

Pitney Bowes Inc., the Connecticut-based maker of postal meters and mail equipment, has agreed to acquire some assets of mail processing company Ancora Capital & Management Group LLC, including its presorting facility in Baltimore.

Pitney Bowes said will buy the Ancora assets for $35 million in cash and debt. Ancora's operations will be added to Pitney Bowes' presorting network.

Ancora has about 900 workers. No decisions have been made yet about those employees' jobs.

Legg Mason reports 12.8% stake in Google

Legg Mason Value Trust Inc., the mutual fund managed by Bill Miller, holds 5.95 percent of Google Inc.'s Class A common shares, according to a regulatory filing.

Legg Mason Inc., a Baltimore-based brokerage and mutual fund manager, reported in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it holds almost 4.3 million Google Class A shares, equal to a 12.8 percent stake. That includes the shares owned by Value Trust.

Allotted shares bought, Educate Inc. reports

Baltimore-based Educate Inc., the newly public owner of the Sylvan tutoring centers, said yesterday that the underwriters of its initial public offering have purchased all 2.25 million shares of stock that were available for over-allotments.

That portion of the stock was sold at $11 a share by company owners rather than the company. Educate Inc. did not receive the proceeds.

The underwriters were Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc.; JP Morgan Securities Inc.; Banc of America Securities LLC; Legg Mason Inc.; and ThinkEquity Partners LLC.

BGE, 3 other utilities to accept wholesale bids

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and three other Maryland utilities said yesterday they will accept bids from wholesale electric suppliers who can supply them with wholesale electric power to meet their "standard offer service" obligations to customers in their Maryland service areas.

Under the state's newly deregulated electric market, BGE and the other utilities, Allegheny Power, Conectiv Power Delivery and Potomac Electric Power Co., must purchase market-rate power to sell to electric customers who choose not to buy their electricity from competitive suppliers.

The utilities will consider the suppliers' proposals in four rounds, starting in December and concluding in March, for supply services to start June 1, 2005.

CFO for local unit of Northrop named

Northrop Grumman Corp. said it has promoted Linda M. Leukhardt to chief financial officer and vice president of business management for the company's Baltimore-based Electronic Systems sector.

Leukhardt, 46, who has that role at the company's sector in Newport News, Va., worked for Northrop Grumman in Baltimore before that. She replaces Wylie B. Smith, who plans to retire in December after 36 years with the defense contractor, which is based in Los Angeles.


Molson-Coors merger gets antitrust clearance in U.S.

Molson Inc., Canada's biggest beer maker, and Adolph Coors Co., the third-largest U.S. brewer, won U.S. antitrust clearance yesterday for their $3.4 billion merger.

The proposed combination appeared on a list of terminated merger investigations published by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The proposed merger is subject to approval by Molson and Coors shareholders.

Holders of almost 10 percent of Molson Class A shares said they are resisting a plan to allow holders of stock options to vote on the transaction. The merger requires approval of two-thirds of the A shares. Some investors have said they would sue to prevent options from having the same voting rights as Class A shares.

Genetech subpoenaed in drug-marketing probe

Genentech Inc., the world's second-biggest biotechnology company, has received a subpoena from the U.S. attorney's office in Philadelphia as part of a criminal and civil investigation into the marketing of Rituxan, its top-selling drug.

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