Briefing

December 30, 2009

Team selected to redevelop North Avenue properties

Baltimore's housing department and Mayor Sheila Dixon have selected a team headed by a group called Gateway to Baltimore LLC to redevelop 33 city-owned properties on both sides of the 3000 block of W. North Ave. in West Baltimore. Gateway is headed by Walter "Skip" Bennett of Edgewater, and Klaus Philipsen of ArchPlan is the architect. They proposed a $4.8 million residential development called North Avenue Gateway, with 48 "modular" apartments on the south side of the block and a mix of new and rehabbed town houses on the north side. The developer also plans to restore an 1892 mansion at 3044 W. North Ave., on the north side of the block, for residential use. Bennett's group, one of two that responded to a request for proposals issued by the city earlier this year, was selected last month to enter an exclusive negotiating priority period to finalize its plans. T. E. Jeff Inc. is a minority contractor on the team, and North American Housing Corp. has been identified as the likely builder of the prefabricated apartment homes.

- Edward Gunts

Peltz purchase makes him Legg's largest shareholder

Activist investor Nelson Peltz has continued his buying spree of Legg Mason stock, increasing his ownership stake in the Baltimore money manager to 5.6 percent, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing late Monday. That makes him the company's largest shareholder, surpassing fund manager Dodge & Cox, at least according to the most recent government filings. Peltz owns just over 9 million shares through funds connected with his Trian Fund Management LP, spending $213.8 million - including commissions - to acquire them. Peltz, known for targeting good but underperforming brands, joined Legg Mason's board in the fall after earlier big-ticket purchases of the company's stock.

- Jamie Smith Hopkins

GM offering deep discounts on Saturn, Pontiac vehicles

General Motors Co. is offering deep discounts on its remaining Saturn and Pontiac vehicles as it looks to move the leftover inventory of the soon-to-be-dead brands, according to a published report. The automaker will pay dealers $7,000 for every new Saturn or Pontiac left on their lot if the vehicle is moved to dealer-operated rental or service fleets, according to The Wall Street Journal. This allows the dealers to sell the cars and trucks to consumers at a discount, although the vehicles would be labeled as used because the dealer would technically be the first owner. The offer expires Jan. 4, according to the newspaper. GM spokesman Tom Henderson confirmed the details of the incentive plan Tuesday. The decision to discount Saturns and Pontiacs comes as GM closes down both brands under the Detroit automaker's restructuring plan.

- Associated Press

Nokia expands patent dispute over Apple iPhone

Nokia Corp. is broadening a legal dispute it already has with Apple Inc. over the iPhone, saying almost all of the company's other products also violate the Finnish phone maker's patents. Nokia said Tuesday that it has filed a complaint against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission, alleging Apple's iPhone, iPods and computers all violate Nokia's intellectual property rights. At issue are key features found in Apple products, including aspects of user interface, cameras, antenna and power management technologies, Nokia said. Apple has denied the charges and this month countered with its own lawsuit, saying Nokia has copied aspects of the iPhone in its devices. Apple claims Nokia is violating its patent rights on technology for connecting phones to computers, teleconferencing and touch-screen menus, among other things.

- Associated Press

Tylenol Arthritis Caplet voluntary recall expanded

Johnson & Johnson is expanding a voluntary recall of Tylenol Arthritis Caplets due to consumer reports of a moldy smell that can cause nausea and sickness. The New Brunswick, N.J., company is now recalling all product lots of the Arthritis Pain Caplet 100 count bottles with the red EZ-Open Cap. Consumers seeking a refund or replacement can call J&J at 1-888-222-6036.

- Associated Press

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