Daily Briefing


December 18, 2009

Marylanders' personal income rose in summer

Personal income in Maryland was 0.3 percent higher in the summer than the spring, the same increase felt nationwide, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated Thursday. That was significantly smaller than the state's 1.2 percent increase in the spring, but better than the 2.8 percent drop felt in the winter. Personal income includes wages, benefits, government payments such as unemployment checks and other income, including rents and dividends. Marylanders' wages and benefits by themselves rose 0.5 percent in the summer, the agency said.

- Jamie Smith Hopkins

Ernst & Young pays $8.5M to settle SEC charges

WASHINGTON - Big accounting firm Ernst & Young has agreed to pay $8.5 million to settle federal regulators' charges in connection with an alleged accounting fraud at Bally Total Fitness in 2001-2003. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement Thursday with Ernst & Young, which also agreed to change its policies and practices to prevent future problems. Officials said it was one of the largest settlements ever paid by an accounting firm. The SEC had alleged that Ernst & Young knew or should have known about Bally's accounting violations. New York-based Ernst & Young neither admitted nor denied the SEC's allegations but did agree to refrain from future violations of the securities laws.

- Associated Press

General Growth Properties considers alternatives

CHICAGO - General Growth Properties Inc., the nation's second-largest mall operator, said Thursday it has $3 billion in debt remaining to be restructured and is considering "all indications of interest in the company." The company is also considering financing alternatives such as a public offering of equity. On Tuesday, the company, based in Chicago, said a bankruptcy court approved its plan to restructure $10.25 billion in debt. A plan for restructuring an additional $1.7 billion in debt is up for approval when some conditions are satisfied. General Growth filed the largest U.S. real estate bankruptcy case in history in April, after it expanded aggressively during the real estate boom, amassing $27 billion in debt. Much of its debt came with its acquisition of Columbia's Rouse Co. in 2004. The company owns or operates more than 200 regional malls in 43 states including Baltimore's Harborplace & The Gallery.

- Associated Press

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