daily briefing

daily briefing

December 31, 2008

Giant Food to offer free generic antibiotics

Giant Food said yesterday that it will offer free generic antibiotics in nine categories from Jan. 2 to March 21 to anyone who has a prescription. It joins groceries and drugstores around the country that have offered similar programs to attract shoppers. The drug program will cover 36 antibiotics that are used to treat common illnesses during the cold and flu season. Antibiotics in the program include amoxicillin, ampicillin, bacitracin ophthalmic ointment, cephalexin capsules, ciprofloxacin, erythromycin and penicillin. The cost of a typical antibiotic at Giant ranges from $9.99 to $23.99. Information: www.giantfood.com/antibiotics.

Andrea K. Walker

MidAmerican has right to seek CEG board spot

Warren E. Buffett's MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., whose deal to acquire Baltimore's Constellation Energy Group was terminated this month, has the right to nominate a member to the utility's board of directors, according to a document filed this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Board representation was one of several benefits MidAmerican walked away with when Constellation terminated its deal in favor of a $4.5 billion investment from a French utility. Constellation also agreed to pay Buffett $593 million in fees, to give him 10 percent of the company's stock and to repay a $1 billion emergency loan at a 14 percent interest rate. Constellation's board must use "all commercially reasonable efforts" to elect MidAmerican's nominee, according to the filing. MidAmerican can exercise its nomination right as long as its ownership does not fall below 9.9 million shares. MidAmerican's 10 percent stake represents 19.9 million shares. Constellation's board now has 12 directors. When Constellation's deal with Electricite de France is completed, EDF will have the right to designate a director, according to SEC documents. Shares of Constellation rose 56 cents, or 2.2 percent, to close at $25.68 yesterday.

Hanah Cho

Annual interest rates on credit cards fall

NEW YORK: The average annual interest rates charged on popular types of credit cards fell again last week, according to Bankrate.com.

For low-interest cards, which have rates below the national average but are often offered only to customers with strong credit histories, the average APR declined to 11.33 percent, from 11.42 percent the week before. Cash-back cards, which feature cash or other reward incentives and generally require a good-to-excellent credit rating for approval, saw their average APR drop to 13.51 percent, from 13.57 percent last week. For balance-transfer cards, which allow consumers to consolidate outstanding debt from one or more cards and sometimes include a low introductory rate, the average annual percentage rate fell to 13.01 percent, from 13.07 percent the week before. Overall, the average APR charged for all variable-rate cards tracked by Bankrate was 10.86 percent, down from 11.04 percent the previous week. Bankrate surveys the 10 largest banks and thrifts in the 10 largest markets in the U.S. to determine its averages.

Associated Press

Fed to buy securities tied to mortgages

WASHINGTON: The Federal Reserve says it will begin purchasing up to $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities early next month in an effort to bolster the housing market. The Fed announced the purchases last month but did not say when they would begin. The central bank says it will purchase securities that are guaranteed by home loan giants Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae. The Fed also says BlackRock Inc., Goldman Sachs Asset Management, PIMCO and Wellington Management Company LLP will operate the program.

Associated Press

Lockheed, Boeing hit the cyberspace market

Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., the world's biggest defense companies, are deploying forces and resources to a new battlefield: cyberspace. The military contractors, eager to capture a share of a market that may reach $11 billion in 2013, have formed business units to tap increased spending to protect U.S. government computers from attack. Chicago-based Boeing set up its Cyber Solutions division in August "because of a realization by the company that it's a very serious threat," said Barbara Fast, vice president of the unit. "It's not a question of if we'll be attacked but when, and so how will we be prepared." Lockheed launched its cyber-defense operation in October. "The whole area of cyber is probably one of the faster-growing areas" of the U.S. budget, said Linda Gooden, executive vice president of Lockheed's Information Systems & Global Services unit. "It's something that we're very focused on. I expect there will be a significant focus" under [President-elect Barack] Obama.

Bloomberg News

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