- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2007

Regional

U Dutch consulting and engineering company Arcadis said that it acquired privately held RTKL Associates, a Baltimore-based design and planning firm, for undisclosed terms. RTKL was founded in 1946 and employs more than a thousand professionals at six U.S. offices, including one in the District and four overseas.

U People with claims for asbestos-related disease and property damage asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., to push W.R. Grace to speed up its bankruptcy restructuring. The Columbia, Md.-based producer of specialty chemicals filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2001, inundated with lawsuits over asbestos products it once made.

U SAIC Inc. of San Diego and McLean, a defense contractor specializing in computer services, agreed to acquire engineering firm Benham Investment Holdings to increase sales in the energy management services market. Benham serves the federal government and corporations, and its specialties include industrial facilities and energy management. Terms weren’t disclosed.

National

U Payments to CVS Caremark, Rite-Aid, Walgreen and thousands of smaller pharmacies will fall under a new Medicaid reimbursement formula released yesterday that is opposed by industry. The new formula from the federal agency that oversees Medicaid will slash payments to pharmacies that provide generic drugs to the 50 million Americans enrolled in the federal-state health care program for the poor.

U Northwest Airlines‘ flight attendants union called for Chief Executive Officer Doug Steenland to resign, saying mismanagement led to crew shortages and flight cancellations last month. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA became at least the third union to criticize management, after the pilots and the mechanics unions, saying understaffing is hurting morale.

U Travelers Cos. said that it will settle one of its largest asbestos cases for $449 million. The St. Paul, Minn.-based commercial insurer settled the case with ACandS, which installed insulation with asbestos from 1958 to 1974 and was insured by Travelers. Travelers said it would pay $365 million of the settlement and reinsurers would cover $84 million.

U State Farm settled lawsuits with 18 Hurricane Katrina victims in Mississippi, resolving all outstanding cases filed by the attorneys who won a $1.2 million verdict from the insurer in January.

U Burger King said it will use trans-fat-free cooking oil at all its U.S. restaurants by the end of next year, following other leading fast-food restaurants. The world’s second-largest hamburger chain said it was already using zero trans-fat oil in hundreds of its more than 7,100 U.S. restaurants.

U Microsoft’s $6 billion acquisition of online advertising group AQuantive has cleared an antitrust regulatory hurdle when the Federal Trade Commission allowed a review period to expire without requesting further information on the merger, the companies said.

U Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and Dow Jones have not completed talks on Mr. Murdoch’s $5 billion bid for the storied publishing company, owner of the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and Dow Jones news wires, a source said. A British newspaper had reported that a deal had been reached.

U The FBI is investigating anonymous mailed threats against Goldman Sachs but does not consider the warnings to be of “high credibility,” an investigator said. The letters, handwritten in red ink on loose-leaf paper and signed “A.Q.U.S.A.,” were mailed to 20 newspapers, authorities said. The letters contained the warning: “Hundreds will die. We are inside. You cannot stop us.”

U Assets of the Dallas-based investment firm Amerifirst have been frozen as part of a temporary restraining order by federal regulators who charge the company ran a $35 million investment scam targeting the elderly. The Securities and Exchange Commission said in a civil lawsuit that Amerifirst raised $35 million to $55 million since January 2006 from investors, mostly in Texas and Florida, with claims that its investments were virtually risk-free.

U PricewaterhouseCoopers agreed to pay $225 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by shareholders of Tyco International over a multibillion-dollar accounting fraud that sent Tyco’s top executives to prison. Separately, Tyco, the world’s biggest maker of security and fire systems, said it will incur about $1.4 billion in costs related to this week’s spinoff of its health care and electronics units.

U Pride International, an oil and gas drilling contractor, said it will construct a rig for use in ultradeep-water locations for about $680 million. Samsung Heavy Industries will build the drillship on a fixed-price basis. The rig will be capable of drilling in water depths of up to 12,000 feet, with a total vertical drilling depth of up to 40,000 feet.

International

U French President Nicolas Sarkozy may back a candidacy of former Socialist minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn to head the International Monetary Fund, sources said. A source at the presidential office said reports of his backing of Mr. Strauss-Kahn for the post were “not unfounded.” On Thursday parliamentary sources had named another senior Socialist figure, Laurent Fabius, for the job.

U The Canadian dollar hit 95 U.S. cents for the first time in 30 years, breaching almost more than a full cent against its U.S. counterpart. Known as the loonie because of the loon pictured on the one-dollar coin, the Canadian dollar rose 10.8 percent this year and is now at its highest level since May 1977.

U Automaker BMW said that sales rose 15.1 percent in June and 4.5 percent for the first half of the year. The Munich-based carmaker said it sold 150,285 BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce vehicles worldwide in June, up from the 130,542 it sold a year ago.

U Longtime aviation partners Cuba and Russia have renewed their alliance in a deal promising increased cooperation in services and training, the Cuban official daily Granma reported. The deal covers tourism, cargo and passenger services, as well as the purchase of new Russian Ilyushin and Tupolev aircraft.

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