Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

April 28, 2005

In The Region

Marriott to buy 32 hotels, stakes in joint ventures

Marriott International Inc., the largest U.S. hotel company, agreed yesterday to buy 32 hotels and joint-venture stakes from CTF Holdings Ltd. for $1.45 billion. Marriott plans to resell at least 26 of the hotels.

Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. plans to buy five of the hotels and a joint-venture stake for $419 million at the closing of the deal, and Walton Street Capital LLC has agreed to buy eight hotels for $578 million, Marriott said in a statement. Walton Street also agreed to purchase a separate stake in a CTF hotel for $12 million.

Martek Biosciences cuts 2005 revenue outlook

Martek Biosciences Corp., a Columbia maker of nutritional supplements, lowered revenue predictions yesterday by about 20 percent for its 2005 fiscal year, which ends Oct. 31.

The company said it expects annual revenue of $220 million to $240 million, down $60 million from March estimates of $280 million to $300 million.

Martek said it made the adjustment because customers have been stockpiling products, which is likely to lead to a decrease in third-quarter sales. The company also expects delays in its plans for international expansion because its fatty-acid supply hasn't been able to keep up with demand.

Martek's shares, which trade on the Nasdaq stock market, fell 12.6 percent March 9 after the company predicted about $17 million less in second-quarter earnings than analysts had expected.

Power plant near Frederick gets final PSC approval

The Maryland Public Service Commission has given final approval to a new power plant to be built south of Frederick.

The 600-megawatt, natural-gas-fired generator in the Buckeystown area will be built by Sempra Energy Corp. of San Diego on the grounds of the Alcoa Eastalco aluminum-smelting complex.

Sempra officials say they expect to start construction, which is expected to take two years, late this year or early next year, after they have found wholesale buyers for the electricity.

Elsewhere

Blockbuster CEO says he'll quit if ousted from board

Blockbuster Inc. CEO John Antioco said yesterday that he will resign if shareholders side with billionaire investor Carl C. Icahn's efforts to remove him from the board.

Antioco, who has led Dallas-based Blockbuster, the biggest U.S. video-rental chain, since 1997, faces a May shareholder vote in which Icahn and two other nominees are seeking to oust the directors.

Ruling could speed curbs on imports from China

The U.S. Court of Appeals today lifted an injunction that prevented the Commerce Department from considering petitions to limit imports on $1.3 billion of clothing from China.

The decision could allow the Bush administration to speed the imposition of curbs on imports of pants, shirts and underwear from China based on cases the U.S. textile industry filed last year.

Judge dismisses juror in Scrushy fraud trial

The judge in the trial of former HealthSouth Corp. Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Scrushy said yesterday that she had dismissed a juror because of "external events" that could raise impartiality questions.

U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre, who previously excused a juror because of illness, said she made the decision "because these external events could possibly raise questions about the integrity of the jury."

Scrushy is charged with leading a $2.7 billion fraud over seven years. Prosecutors claim he made millions off the scheme to make it appear HealthSouth was meeting Wall Street earnings forecasts.

This column was compiled from reports by Sun staff writers, the Associated Press, Bloomberg News and The New York Times.

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