Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

March 29, 2005

In the Region

Schiavo case spurs 27,391 in Md. to get health directive forms

More than 27,000 consumers have sought advance directive forms from Maryland since Congress and the president stepped into a family feud over the care of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman in Florida. Her husband was allowed by several courts to remove a feeding tube after saying his wife told him several years ago that she would not want to be kept alive artificially.

An advance directive allows people to name someone to make medical decisions in their behalf if they are incapacitated and to spell out their wishes for life-prolonging measures.

In the past week, 27,391 copies of the advance directive were downloaded from the Maryland attorney general's Web site and more than 500 copies were mailed to consumers, said Kevin Enright, a spokesman for the attorney general. In comparison, 631 forms were downloaded in a week late last month.

The forms are available online at www.oag.state.md.us/Healthpol/. Those without Internet access can call 410-576-7000 to request a copy.

Lockheed-Covenant to bid on airport screening pacts

Lockheed Martin Corp., the largest U.S. defense contractor, said yesterday that it had joined with Covenant Aviation Security to provide private baggage-screening services at U.S. airports.

The team will compete for contracts under the screening partnership program developed by the Transportation Security Administration, Lockheed said. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

The security agency, which in 2002 assumed responsibility for screening airline luggage for explosives, will this year begin allowing airports to choose screeners from private contractors instead of using federal employees. Lockheed has trained 65,000 airport baggage screeners for the government, a spokeswoman said.

Let's Dish! to open Bel Air store in June

Let's Dish!, an eating concept where consumers prepare dishes that can be cooked later, will open a store at the Amyclae Business Center in Bel Air in June.

Let's Dish! customers register for a session online at www. letsdish.net and choose the meals they wish to make from a monthly menu. They prepare their selections at Let's Dish!, leaving with a number of ready-to-cook meals that can be eaten immediately or frozen.

Let's Dish!, which began in Minnesota, opened a Timonium site in January.

Elsewhere

Qwest gives MCI until next Tuesday to accept its offer

Qwest Communications International Inc., the No. 4 U.S. local-telephone carrier, said yesterday that MCI Inc. has until next Tuesday to accept its $8.45 billion takeover offer, the latest salvo in a six-week battle for the company.

The ultimatum was issued in a letter from Qwest Chief Executive Officer Richard C. Notebaert to MCI directors that was filed yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

MCI, which agreed Feb. 13 to be bought by Verizon Communications Inc. for $6.75 billion, has been considering Qwest's proposal since last week.

Notebaert is stepping up pressure on MCI CEO Michael D. Capellas to take or reject a bid that has been revised at least four times. Acceptance would force Verizon, the largest U.S. local-phone company, to raise its offer or walk away.

Funeral operator to resume dividend halted in 2000

Stewart Enterprises Inc., the third-largest operator of cemeteries and funeral homes in the United States, said yesterday that it would resume paying a dividend for the first time in almost five years after cutting debt.

A quarterly dividend of 2 1/2 cents a share will be payable April 29 to shareholders of record on April 15, Stewart said yesterday. Stewart last paid a dividend of 2 cents in July 2000.

Aluminum maker allowed to raise retiree health costs

Aluminum maker Ormet Corp. says it is closer to leaving bankruptcy now that a judge has allowed it to sharply increase retirees' health insurance costs and rejected a request by striking steelworkers that it be forced force to sell two plants in southeast Ohio.

The judge also established the retirees as creditors who can make a claim in the case for their lifetime losses under the health plan changes, an attorney for the United Steelworkers union said.

On Friday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Barbara J. Sellers also ordered Ormet and the union to spend at least two days a week negotiating a new contract and make weekly progress reports to the bankruptcy court. Late last year, she had approved the company's plan to leave bankruptcy and allowed Ormet to break labor agreements with workers at the two plants and impose new contracts.

IAC to give Expedia a $250 million sendoff

IAC/InterActiveCorp, billionaire Barry Diller's Internet company, will give $250 million to its Expedia unit to provide it with capital when it is spun off as a public company. IAC is considering a reverse stock split as part of the spinoff.

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