Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Business digest

Drug rivals Biogen, IDEC plan to merge

Enquirer staff and wire reports

BOSTON - Biogen and IDEC Pharmaceuticals, two rivals racing to develop drugs for cancer and other diseases, announced plans Monday to merge and create the No. 3 biotechnology company, the latest of a string of consolidations in the industry.

The $6.4 billion all-stock deal is designed to create a powerhouse benefiting from the combination of short-term growth prospects of smaller, San Diego-based IDEC, whose main product is the cancer drug Rituxan, and Cambridge-based Biogen's research and development expertise and global reach.

Judge denies bids to dismiss in Tyco case

Former Tyco International Ltd. executives Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz lost a court bid to throw out charges accusing them of stealing $600 million through illegal compensation and stock fraud.

"There's compelling evidence the defendants took money from Tyco that they were simply not permitted to take," said Michael Obus, a Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice.

'Hulk' disappoints; Marvel shares plunge

AUSTIN, Texas - Marvel Enterprises Inc. shares fell sharply Monday due to what analysts called a disappointing opening weekend for The Hulk, a movie based on one of Marvel's comic-book characters.

Marvel shares fell $2.45, or 12 percent, to close at $18.75 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

The picture brought in $62.6 million in opening-weekend ticket sales, which is a June record.

But it fell short of expectations and also lagged some other recent releases based on comic-book characters, such as last month's $85.6 million opening weekend for X2: X-Men United.

Discounts no bargain for hotels, study says

ALBANY, N.Y. - Hotels that offer discount rates during the off-season to attract guests may be doing more harm than good to the bottom line, research shows.

Rather than boosting occupancy during slow periods, discount rates simply hurt revenue, the study by Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration said

Inexpensive rooms do not entice people to travel but only give cheaper accommodations to those who are on the road anyway, the study showed.

Fidelity cancels fees on some mutual funds

BOSTON - Fidelity Investments said Monday it would eliminate the 3 percent upfront charges some investors pay to buy into several of its equity mutual funds, including the popular Magellan Fund.

With the announcement, all of Fidelity's retail diversified stock funds will be sold on a "no-load" basis, meaning investors won't have to pay a front-end fee to purchase shares. The company's 41 sector and industry funds will still carry the 3 percent charge.

Rates fall to lowest in Treasury bill auction

WASHINGTON - Interest rates on short-term Treasury securities fell in Monday's auction, with rates on six-months bills dropping to their lowest level on record.

The Treasury sold $17 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.815 percent, down from 0.840 percent last week. An additional $18 billion was sold in six-month bills at a rate of 0.840 percent, down from 0.845 percent.

The three-month rate was the lowest since June 30, 1958, when the bills sold for 0.768 percent. The six-month rate was the lowest since the government began regularly selling these bills in 1958.

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