Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

March 02, 2007

Maryland: Acquisitions

NexCen closes deal for MaggieMoo's

NexCen Brands Inc., a brand acquisition company, said yesterday that it has closed on a deal to buy ice cream shop companies MaggieMoo's International LLC and Marble Slab Creamery Inc. for $37.1 million. Columbia-based MaggieMoo's operates 184 stores in 36 states and Houston-based Marble Slab currently has 370 stores in 35 states, Canada and the United Arab Emirates.

Meredith Cohn

Earnings

Laureate profit increases 29%

Laureate Education Inc., the operator of online and foreign universities that's facing stockholder opposition to a proposed $3.2 billion buyout, said yesterday its profit rose 19 percent in the fourth quarter. After charges related to minority share ownership purchase agreements, net income was $51.8 million, or 97 cents per share, in the three months that ended Dec. 31, up from $43.5 million, or 83 cents per share, a year earlier. The company, which agreed to a $3.8 billion management-led buyout, said revenue increased 25 percent to $346.6 million, from $276.4 million a year ago.

Hanah Cho

Relocations

Spherix expected to move call center

Spherix Inc. will move its InfoSpherix telephone call center from Cumberland to a new building on the Frostburg State University campus late next year, the building's owner says. InfoSpherix, which had about 440 workers in mid-2005, leases one floor in a Cumberland office building. It will move by Dec. 1 into the Allegany Business Center as anchor tenant of the business incubator, according to the project's developer.

Defendants

Former Grace supervisor dies

One of the seven current and former executives of W.R. Grace and Co. accused of covering up the risk of asbestos exposure to workers and neighbors of a former Grace mine in Libby, Mont., has died. Alan R. Stringer, 62, the former mine supervisor, died of cancer at his home in Oak Harbor, Wash., on Feb. 24. His wife said his cancer was not asbestos-related. Grace, Stringer and six others face charges related to the vermiculite mine which closed in 1990. More than 1,000 of Libby's residents are sick or have died from asbestos-related disease. The defendants have all pleaded not guilty. The trial has been delayed until at least the fall of 2008 pending appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Allison Connolly

Government

Northrop gets postal contract

Northrop Grumman Corp. received an $847.6 million contract from the U.S. Postal Service to manufacture the Flats Sequencing System, which organizes large envelopes, magazines, newspapers and catalogs in the order in which they are to be delivered. The contract, which is part of a multiyear program to automate the Postal Service, is for 100 systems. Test production will start in August in Dulles, Va. The initial contract for postal automation was awarded to a team led by Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Linthicum Heights.

Allison Connolly

Washington: Earnings

Pepco net income declines 56%

Pepco Holdings Inc., owner of Washington's utility, said fourth-quarter profit fell 56 percent, absent a gain from the sale of a bankruptcy claim. Net income fell to $36.3 million, or 19 cents a share, from $82.1 million, or 43 cents, the Washington-based company said in a regulatory filing yesterday. Revenue fell 7.8 percent to $1.9 billion from $2.06 billion as milder weather reduced power sales. In the fourth quarter of 2005, Pepco sold its claim on Mirant Corp.'s bankruptcy for $112.4 million, resulting in a $42.2 million gain after taxes.

This column was compiled from dispatches by Sun reporters, the Associated Press and Bloomberg News.

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