Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

August 18, 2007

Maryland : Economy

Unemployment rises slightly

Unemployment in Maryland rose slightly to 4 percent last month, the Labor Department said yesterday. The number is adjusted for seasonal variations. But job creation picked up. In the past 12 months, job numbers swelled by 31,600 - not seasonally adjusted, since it is a year-over-year comparison. The state's unemployment rate in June was 3.8 percent, but the state's new 4 percent rate is the same as it was in July 2006.

Jamie Smith Hopkins

Manufacturing

Wheeling-Pittsburgh refinancing credit line

Wheeling-Pittsburgh Corp., part of the joint venture trying to buy the Sparrows Point steel mill, said yesterday that it has reached an agreement to refinance its $225 million credit line one week after auditors raised concerns about the company's ability to pay its debts. The company said it has come to terms with bankers on a $350 million line of credit and a $135 million term loan to replace its existing government-backed term loan. The company said it expected to close on the new financing before completing its pending merger with Chicago-based metals distributor Esmark Inc. Esmark is leading an international group of investors planning to buy Sparrows Point from Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal SA. The group's business plan calls for Sparrows Point to supply 850,000 tons of slab steel annually to Wheeling-Pitt, making the steelmaker a critical part of the buyout strategy. Esmark officials say Wheeling-Pitt's liquidity problems will be resolved once it merges with Esmark later this year.

Paul Adams

Development

Erickson plans Ill. expansion

Catonsville-based Erickson Retirement Communities said yesterday that it is expanding a retirement community in Illinois and will have $137 million in tax-exempt bonds from that state's government to help finance the project. Erickson, developer and manager of the 320-person community, called Sedgebrook, has zoning approval to expand to as many as 2,000 residents. The company is opening a fifth residential building in October and will break ground there in the fall on an assisted-living and "skilled nursing neighborhood."

Jamie Smith Hopkins

Technology

Sourcefire acquires anti-virus project

Network security company Sourcefire Inc. said yesterday that it has acquired the open source anti-virus project ClamAV. Under terms of the contract, Columbia-based Sourcefire has acquired the ClamAV project and related trademarks, as well as the copyrights held by the five principal members of the ClamAV team, including project founder Tomasz Kojm. Sourcefire will also assume control of the ClamAV.org domain, Web site, Web site content and ClamAV SourceForge project page. The ClamAV employees will continue to run the system. Sourcefire anticipates a one-time charge in the third quarter of between 9 cents per share and 12 cents per share, or $2.1 million to $2.9 million, because of the transaction. Other financial details were not disclosed. This is the first acquisition for Sourcefire since it become public in March.

Andrea K. Walker

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