Business Digest


October 08, 2004

In The Region

SuperFresh unveils points program to benefit local schools

SuperFresh said yesterday that it will donate $1 million to local schools under a new program where the grocery chain's customers can earn points when they buy groceries.

The program was unveiled at the company's Hampden store by SuperFresh executives, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Baltimore City Schools CEO Bonnie Copeland.

Under the SuperFresh School Partnership, customers will earn one point for every dollar they spend at a SuperFresh. At the end of the fall and spring semesters, the money will be split among participating schools. Schools can sign up on the company's Web site or at one of its stores.

NeighborCare says rival's offer was rejected 3 times

NeighborCare Inc. said yesterday that it had rejected an offer from a larger rival that is waging a hostile takeover bid for the Baltimore institutional drug supplier.

NeighborCare chief John J. Arlotta said the board did not believe more discussions with Omnicare Inc. would be productive. "NeighborCare has rejected Omnicare's offer three times, and nothing has changed," he said.

On Oct. 1, Omnicare announced its third extension of its $30-a-share tender offer for all NeighborCare stock, this time to Oct. 29. The Kentucky-based company said that as of Sept. 30, 52.5 percent of NeighborCare's stock had been tendered.

GBC report urges more minority-owned businesses

The Baltimore area has the capacity to create 32,000 jobs and increase annual sales by $5 billion if the number of minority- and women-owned businesses were in better proportion to its population, according to a report released by the Greater Baltimore Committee yesterday.

The region could support 42,935 minority-owned and 63,612 women-owned businesses with one or more employees. It has only 29,194 minority-owned businesses and 58,576 women-owned businesses.

The report, prepared by Sage Policy Group Inc., found that key barriers for the creation of minority-owned businesses are lack of financial capital, inadequate business networks, inadequate familial resources, deficits in human capital and lack of access to markets. Women face similar obstacles, but are also often excluded from government procurement and often must use personal credit to finance the growth of their firms, while men have better access to business or commercial loans, the report said.

Lands' End unit to sponsor sailboat racing series

Sailing World magazine said yesterday that the Business Outfitters division of Lands' End clothing store has signed on as next year's sponsor of its NOOD Regattas sailing series.

The National Offshore One Design Regattas, known as NOODs, are the largest sailboat racing series in North America. Lands' End will supply all official NOODs event apparel, and its brand will appear on staff uniforms, boats, advertisements, event stickers, event programs and promotional materials.

The NOODs will sail into nine cities, including Annapolis, from April 29 to May 1.


American fares go up $5 for second time in a week

American Airlines, the world's largest carrier, boosted most U.S. leisure fares $5 each way yesterday for the second time in a week, the company said. At least four carriers matched the increase, an analyst said.

The increase means some round-trip fares have climbed $20 in the past seven days, the company said. The latest rise took effect yesterday on fares in the 48 contiguous states and Canada, said American spokeswoman Jacquie Young. The carrier adopted a similar increase of $5 each way Sept. 29, she said.

It is the first time that the largest U.S. airlines have been able to successfully increase fares amid record fuel prices that have eroded profits.

America West Airlines, Continental Airlines Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and UAL Corp.'s United Airlines matched the increase by American, a unit of AMR Corp., a J.P. Morgan analyst said.

US Airways unions resist 23% pay cut

US Airways' unions say the bankrupt airline is "barking up the wrong tree" by seeking to ensure its solvency by imposing a 23 percent pay cut on its workers, but an airline executive testified yesterday that without those cuts, the carrier's cash reserves will be so low by mid-February that it may be forced to liquidate, putting all of its 34,000 employees out of work.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Mitchell, in Alexandria, Va., must decide whether he will grant the airline's request for the temporary 23 percent pay cuts, along with other benefits reductions. His hearing on the issue will resume today, and the company has requested a ruling within the next week.

The airline projected that, without the pay cuts, its cash reserves will drop to $313 million by early March - and probably less, given the skyrocketing cost of fuel.

Oracle buys more time in hostile takeover bid

Oracle Corp.'s current offer for PeopleSoft Inc. at $21 per share may not be the company's final bid, Oracle director Joseph Grundfest testified yesterday at a trial in Wilmington, Del.

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