Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

December 21, 2006

Maryland: Economy

Cambridge workers to discuss jobs

Workers at a closing fish-processing plant in Cambridge will meet today with state officials and company management to discuss job options after the Icelandic USA plant closes next year. The company says it will shutter the Cambridge plant, which batters frozen fish, to consolidate jobs at its Newport News, Va., plant. More than 400 workers in Cambridge won't be offered jobs in Virginia. Icelandic USA said major layoffs will begin in March. The plant is expected to close by the end of 2007. The Cambridge plant opened in 1968.

Development

Accountant, broker hired for hotel

The group in charge of the under-construction Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel has hired a commercial real estate broker to market the site's retail space and a certified public accountant to do the annual audit, the city said yesterday. The Baltimore Hotel Corp., a quasi-public organization overseeing the hotel project, contracted for one year with a joint venture of Baltimore-area companies Colliers Pinkard and the ROC Realty Group for the real estate work. Clifton Gunderson LLP was named the CPA through next fiscal year.

Jamie Smith Hopkins

Erickson plans Loudoun campus

Catonsville-based Erickson Retirement Communities said this week that it would build a "senior living" campus on 142 acres that it purchased for about $23 million in Loudoun County, Va. The campus is part of a project that Baltimore-based St. John Properties Inc. is developing. Erickson has not decided how large its campus will be but said the site is a good location because nearly 140,000 people older than 65 live within 25 miles. The company's other seniors-only campus in Northern Virginia has a waiting list of more than 1,000, Erickson said.

Jamie Smith Hopkins

Investing

Ahold credit rating might be raised

Royal Ahold NV, the Dutch supermarket conglomerate that owns Giant Food, may have its credit rating raised to investment grade by Standard & Poor's as the company improves its financial performance in the Netherlands. S&P said yesterday that it was considering increasing Ahold's rating from BB+, one level below investment grade. S&P has rated Ahold below investment grade since February 2003. Ahold put units including Columbia-based U.S. Foodservice and Tops grocery stores up for sale last month after a yearlong program to cut costs and bolster cash flow.

Biotechnology

MedImmune licenses technology

MedImmune Inc. has licensed its "reverse genetics" technology to Australia's CSL Limited, which plans to use the technique to create seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines. Reverse genetics is thought to be a more efficient and reliable means of vaccine production, both faster and safer than the current standard. Under the agreement, Gaithersburg-based MedImmune will receive an up-front payment and potential royalties from vaccine stockpiles or product sales.

Tricia Bishop

Investing

GenVec to offer 9.6 million shares

GenVec Inc., a Gaithersburg company trying to develop gene-based drugs and vaccines, announced plans yesterday to sell 9.6 million shares to institutional investors for $2.05 apiece. After expenses, GenVec expects to receive $18.3 million. The money will be used for research and drug development along with "general corporate purposes."

Tricia Bishop

This column was compiled from dispatches by Sun reporters and Bloomberg News.

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