Daily Briefing

DAILY BRIEFING

October 21, 2008

Vertis plan paves way for merger

Baltimore-based Vertis Communications, an advertising and marketing company, said yesterday it has completed its prepackaged bankruptcy plan, which allows it to merge with competitor American Color Graphics of Brentwood, Tenn. The combined company will keep its headquarters in Baltimore under the Vertis Communications brand. It has 100 locations worldwide and nearly 8,000 employees, including about 100 in Baltimore, and integrates American Color's 15 production facilities and other company sites into Vertis. "Although a streamlining of the organization is necessary in order to optimize our cost structure, we anticipate a relatively small number of employees will be impacted," Mike DuBose, Vertis' chairman and chief executive, said yesterday. Vertis filed prepackaged Chapter 11 cases on July 15 and followed a reorganization plan that allowed the two companies to reduce the combined debt by about $1 billion.

Lorraine Mirabella

AmEx profit falls as cardholders cut

NEW YORK : American Express Co. said yesterday its profit fell 24 percent in the third quarter as cardholders restrained their spending and had more trouble paying down debt. The results were better than anticipated and propelled Amex's shares higher. Still, the company's report echoed recent results from JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Capital One Financial Corp. showing that the credit-card environment is worsening. The credit-card issuer said net income was $815 million, or 70 cents a share, in the July-to-September period, down from $1.07 billion, or 90 cents a share, in the same time frame last year.

Associated Press

Gas prices tumble despite likely oil cuts

NEW YORK : Consumers got another break at the gas pump yesterday, as prices dropped further below $3 a gallon and approached year-ago levels even as the near-certainty of an OPEC production cut pushed oil prices marginally higher. Gasoline has fallen more than a dime a gallon since Friday, hitting a national average of $2.92 yesterday, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express. Chakib Khelil, president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said Sunday that members plan to announce a "substantial" output cut at an extraordinary meeting that begins Friday in Vienna.

Associated Press

Exelon makes bid for NRG Energy

COLUMBUS, Ohio : Nuclear power giant and utility operator Exelon made an unsolicited $6.2 billion all-stock bid late Sunday for NRG Energy in a proposal that would create the nation's largest power company. The combined Exelon and NRG would be big enough to power nearly 45 million homes with 47,000 megawatts, Chicago-based Exelon said. It would have a diverse power mix and a market capitalization of $40 billion. Exelon is the second utility in the past month to try to take advantage of the credit crisis and global economic slowdown that have pounded the shares of utilities and power generators. A unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is buying Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Group Inc. for the bargain price of $4.7 billion.

Associated Press

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