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Business Today

By wire services
Published April 9, 2005

NASDAQ TO DELIST TRINSIC: Tampa telecom company Trinsic Inc. has been told for the second time this year that it will be delisted by Nasdaq for failing to meet the exchange's minimum levels of stockholder equity or market capitalization. Trinsic, formerly known as Z-Tel Technologies, said in a filing with the SEC that it will present a plan for meeting those requirements but has "no expectation" the plan will be sufficient. Trinsic stock closed at 40 cents, down 5 cents.

DUKE REALTY BUYS WEST TAMPA TRACT: Duke Realty of Tampa has bought a 29-acre tract in West Tampa with plans to develop it into an industrial park. The new park, called Eagle Creek Business Center, will have 250,000 square feet of distribution center space. The tract is on Florida Mining Boulevard north of Waters Boulevard. Duke bought the property from United Property Southwest LLC which, in turn, had recently acquired the site from the Hillsborough County School Board. The price was not disclosed. Duke said Eagle Creek will complement its Fairfield Distribution Center at Interstate 4 and U.S. 301.

GULF MARINE COMPLETES PURCHASE: Gulf Marine Repair has completed the purchase of the former Hooker's Point power plant from Tampa Electric Co., owner Aaron Hendry said Friday. Gulf Marine plans to move some of its operations to the 29-acre site in about a year after rebuilding bulkheads, tearing down the smokestacks and performing environmental remediation. The company is negotiating with the Tampa Port Authority to extend its lease on its location, Hendry said. That lease expires in April 2006.

FTC WANTS INFO ON FEDERATED-MAY DEAL: The Federal Trade Commission has requested more information about Federated Department Stores Inc.'s proposed $11-billion acquisition of May Department Stores Co. Also, the Securities and Exchange Commission plans to review the registration statement filed by Federated on March 30 in connection with the proposed merger, which was announced in late February. The companies said in a statement they would respond promptly to the FTC's request, which was expected because of the scope of the proposed merger, and to any comments from the SEC. The retailers expect the merger to be completed in the third quarter of 2005.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE STEADY: Consumer confidence held fairly steady over the past month despite surging energy prices and more cautious hiring by America's employers. The AP-Ipsos consumer confidence index clocked in at 84.5 in April, compared with a reading of 84.2 in March, according to figures released Friday. A year ago, the index stood at 84.8.

NEW DOMAIN NAMES APPROVED: The Internet's key oversight agency gave final approval Friday to two new Internet suffixes - ".jobs" for the human resources community and ".travel" for the travel industry. It could take months, though, for the domain names to start appearing in use, as companies running those names now must set up registration and other procedures.

MG ROVER FILES BANKRUPTCY: MG Rover Group, the last major British-owned car manufacturer, succumbed to its mounting debts Friday and filed for a form of bankruptcy protection after a deal with a Chinese automaker fell through and a government loan was not granted.

WILLIS PAYS $51-MILLION TO SETTLE CLAIMS: Willis North America Inc., the nation's third-largest insurance broker, agreed Friday to pay $51-million in restitution to settle an investigation into anticompetitive practices involving incentive fees in property and casualty insurance sales. Of the funds collected, $50-million will be returned to the brokers' clients nationwide, while $1-million is for Minnesota clients only.

FORD LOWERS GUIDANCE: Ford Motor Co. on Friday lowered full-year profit guidance because of difficult business conditions in the automotive sector, and doesn't expect to reach its goal of hitting $7-billion in company pretax profits by 2006. The company now expects 2005 earnings in the range of $1.25 to $1.50 a share. Last month, Ford said its full-year profit would be at the lower end of expectations for earnings of between $1.75 to $1.95 per share.

CABLEVISION SHUTTING DOWN VOOM: Cablevision Systems Corp., a New York area cable TV provider, said it would proceed with a shutdown of its money-losing satellite TV venture called Voom. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Cablevision said the service would no longer be available to customers as of April 30. The move represented a defeat for Cablevision's chairman and founder Charles Dolan, who had championed the service.

DRUG DISTRIBUTORS GET SUBPOENAS: New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has issued subpoenas to at least two of the nation's three largest drug distributors in what appears to be a probe into the way the companies buy drugs from each other. AmerisourceBergen Corp. said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that one of its subsidiaries had received a subpoena from Spitzer's office the previous day. Cardinal Health Inc. said in an SEC filing Friday that one of its subsidiaries had received a similar subpoena from Spitzer's office. McKesson Corp., the other of the big three wholesalers, hadn't disclosed the receipt of any such subpoena.

GM YANKS ADS FROM L.A. TIMES: General Motors Corp. says it will stop advertising in the Los Angeles Times, at least temporarily, because of dealer concerns over "factual errors and misrepresentations" in the newspaper's articles and editorials. The newspaper, which is owned by Tribune Co., will review coverage that prompted the complaints from the world's largest automaker, said spokesman David Garcia. GM spokesman Brian Akre would not identify which stories or editorials the company objected to, but said it had been a series of reports over the past several months.

FLORIDA ORANGE CROP SMALLER THAN EXPECTED: Florida's orange harvest will be 1.2 percent smaller than expected, the fourth monthly decline because of "extremely high" losses of fruit blown from trees after hurricanes, the government said. The crop estimate of 151.2-million boxes for the nation's biggest grower of oranges is down from 153-million boxes last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

SCRUSHY WANTS TESTIMONY BARRED: Richard Scrushy wants the judge in his corporate fraud trial to bar jurors from hearing what he told the Securities and Exchange Commission under oath, a statement that led to a perjury charge against the fired HealthSouth Corp. chief. With the trial on break until next week, the defense claimed in a motion that the SEC violated Scrushy's constitutional rights by cooperating with the Justice Department during the investigation that led to Scrushy's indictment in 2003. The defense contends the alleged violation means jurors shouldn't be allowed to hear the contents of Scrushy's sworn testimony to an SEC investigator March 14, 2003 - a session that led to his later indictment on a charge of lying under oath.

SEARS REVISES LAYOFF REPORT: Sears Holdings Corp. said it plans a "mass layoff" of at least 500 workers at its headquarters in near Chicago, according to a revised report filed with the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Last week, the department had posted on its Web site that Sears Holdings planned a mass layoff of at least 250 employees. Company spokesman Chris Brathwaite declined to comment on the filing and said it has not been determined how many people will lose their jobs.

[Last modified April 9, 2005, 07:10:29]

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