Business Digest

August 24, 2007

Maryland : Biotechnology

MedImmune licenses `reverse genetics'

MedImmune Inc. has licensed its "reverse genetics" technology to Novartis, a Swiss company that owns flu-shot manufacturer Chiron. Novartis will use the technique to create seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines. Reverse genetics is thought to be a faster and safer means of vaccine production than the current standard. In late 2005, Gaithersburg-based MedImmune acquired the final exclusive license to the last of four intellectual property portfolios that govern the use of reverse genetics in making human flu vaccines, which means anyone else who wants to get in on it has to get the company's permission first. MedImmune has also licensed the technology to France's Sanofi pasteur and Australia's CSL Limited. Under the agreement with Novartis, MedImmune will receive an up-front payment and potential royalties from vaccine stockpiles or product sales.

Tricia Bishop

Defense

SAIC begins work on $6.2 billion pact

SAIC Inc. began work on supply management of chemicals, packaged petroleum, oils and lubricants for the Defense Department under a contract valued at as much as $6.2 billion after a protest of the award was denied. SAIC said yesterday that it was informed Aug. 15 that work may continue following a ruling on the challenge by the Government Accountability Office. The order was awarded May 2, and a protest was lodged by PWC Logistics Services Inc., a Kuwait-based global logistics company, GAO attorney Michael Golden said today. SAIC, a military contractor specializing in computer services, has had the contract with the Defense Supply Center in Richmond, Va., for five years, with one five-year option period. The order allows the Defense Logistics Agency to spend as much as $6.2 billion, depending on the supplies required, San Diego-based SAIC said. SAIC has operations in Abingdon. PWC Logistics' protest, filed on May 29, alleged that the Defense Logistics Agency failed to "consistently evaluate" the proposals submitted, Golden said.

Regulation

PSC scouring Verizon documents

Officials at Maryland's Public Service Commission will be scouring documents provided by Verizon Maryland Inc. for the next several days to see if they can determine why there has been an uptick in consumer complaints about the phone company's service, a spokeswoman said yesterday. The PSC, the state's consumer watchdog, ordered Verizon to turn over data by Wednesday. The order came after it received 300 complaints from consumers in the first seven months of the year, up 50 percent from last year. It received another 150 complaints in the two weeks since it ordered Verizon to attend a hearing Aug. 8 on the topic. The PSC will try to determine what has gone wrong. The company could then be fined or ordered to make changes, although Verizon has already announced eight immediate actions, including assigning more technicians to repair phone lines.

Meredith Cohn

Energy

PJM grid panel backs Pepco power line

The operator of the Mid-Atlantic region's electricity grid is recommending the construction of a high-voltage power line that would start in Virginia and cut across Southern Maryland and Delaware before ending in New Jersey. Pepco Holdings Inc. proposed the 230-mile power line to bring more energy to the Washington region, where overloads are anticipated as soon as 2012. The 500,000-volt power line could cost about $1 billion and be built in stages over several years. The staff at PJM Interconnection, which operates the region's power grid, announced Wednesday that it was recommending Pepco build the line. The full PJM board will vote on the proposal in October. The line would begin about 30 miles south of Washington at the Possum Point substation in Prince William County, Va. It would cross the Potomac River and pass through Southern Maryland. From there, the line would travel under the Chesapeake Bay to the Eastern Shore and through Delaware, ending at the Salem nuclear power plant in New Jersey.

Pennsylvania

: Retailing

Dunkin' Donuts plans Pittsburgh blitz

Dunkin' Donuts is planning to roll into the Pittsburgh region on a historic scale. The chain, owned by Dunkin' Brands Inc., announced yesterday that it was planning to open 105 new restaurants in the city and throughout Allegheny County in the next several years. There are currently 10 Dunkin' Donuts shops in the area. The company said the expansion was the largest store development deal in its 57-year history.

Media

Clear Channel sets vote on buyout offer

Clear Channel Communications Inc. scheduled a shareholder meeting for Sept. 25 to vote on a proposed $19.5 billion buyout offer. The offer from a private equity group led by Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Bain Capital Partners LLC was announced in November and sweetened several times.

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

Nation : Litigation

Textron to pay $5 million settlement

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