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Business News Briefs, 4/30/02

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Developer, Giant Eagle back out

Developer Peter Friday and Giant Eagle Inc. affiliate Echo Developers have backed away from a redevelopment of the vacant Highland Building in East Liberty. Friday and Echo signed an option in July to buy the 13-story building from the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority, and the original plan was to spend $10.5 million restoring the Highland Building to its original condition. It was built by industrialist Henry Clay Frick in 1910. The URA is turning to the Pittsburgh Economic and Industrial Development Corp., its nonprofit development arm, to carry out the renovations, with retail on the first floor and office space above.

Eagle clips president's paycheck

A rough retail year meant a 24 percent drop in pay for Roger S. Markfield, American Eagle Outfitters' president and chief merchandising officer. Markfield's bonus dropped from $3.25 million in 2000 to a mere $688,800 last year, leaving him with a total paycheck of $3.24 million, including base pay, bonus, other compensation and $1.74 million in restricted stock awards, according to the company's latest proxy statement. Meanwhile, James V. O'Donnell, who took the chief operating officer post in late 2000, earned a total of $3.096 million, including base pay, a $613,400 bonus, other compensation such as moving expenses and $1.74 million in restricted stock awards.

Nova not deterred by rating

If Moody's Investors Service downgrades Nova Chemicals' debt, it would have little impact on the company's ability to conduct business, said Nova President Jeff Lipton. Moody's said Friday it was concerned that Nova's performance would fall below levels necessary to reduce its debt. Responding to Moody's statement yesterday, Lipton said Nova repaid $164 million of debt in the first quarter, expects to receive a total $115 million in tax refunds in the second quarter, and expects to sell some assets that would raise cash.

PG exec takes journalism post

Lorraine Branham, assistant to the publisher at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is leaving the newspaper to become director of the School of Journalism at the University of Texas-Austin. Branham has been with the Post-Gazette since September 2000.

Block named to newspaper board

Bill Block Jr., chairman of Block Communications Inc., parent company of the Post-Gazette, was elected yesterday to the board of directors of the Newspaper Association of America at its annual meeting in New Orleans. He recently served as president of the Inland Press Association, and has been on the board of the Ohio Newspaper Association.

McCartney to tout vegetarian line

While on tour in the United States, Paul McCartney will be dropping a few casual references to a line of meatless food products bearing his late wife's name. Linda McCartney Frozen Meals are being manufactured and distributed in this country by Ethnic Gourmet Foods, a division of Heinz Frozen Food Co. Linda McCartney, who died in 1998, was a vegetarian. The meals are being launched in several markets, including Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Utility, union agree on contract

Allegheny Energy Inc. and the union representing 1,165 utility workers have reached tentative agreement on a five-year contract. Members of Utility Workers Union of America Local 102, who have been working without a contract since May, must approve the pact. Employee contributions to the company's health plan as well as proposed changes in the pension plan have been key issues.

Also in business ...

Prestige Bancorp Inc. reported a first-quarter loss of $120,000, or 12 cents per diluted share, vs. net income of $33,000, or 3 cents per diluted share, a year ago. Prestige attributed the loss primarily to costs related to its pending merger with Northwest Bancorp Inc. ... Employees of Dominion Transmission and Dominion Hope, units of the natural gas provider, have ratified new contracts covering 781 Dominion Transmission employees in West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia and 258 Dominion Hope workers in West Virginia.

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