Friday, March 14, 2008

NewsWatch

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California firm buysAmerican Partners

American Partners Bank of Bethesda, which has a bank branch in Germantown and a mortgage loan office in Silver Spring, has been acquired by Affinity Financial Corp., of Irvine, Calif., in a transaction to be completed today. Terms were not disclosed.

American Partners has about $127 million in deposits, according to bank co-CEO Paul Joegriner. Affinity Financial, a member of the Waterfield Cos., plans to change the bank’s name to Waterfield Bank, according to Joegriner and Alicia Trovatt, a spokeswoman for Affinity Financial.

Joegriner, a Bethesda resident and former Chevy Chase Bank executive who has been with American Partners for two years, said, ‘‘As of [today] the terms of the acquisition are complete and my assistance with the transition is completed. I will not be continuing with the new organization.”

He said American Partners has ‘‘100-plus” employees in the region and ‘‘99 percent” of them would be staying with the new company.

Baltimore’s gets boost through SBA initiative

The U.S. Small Business Administration selected 11 cities, including Baltimore, for its Emerging 200 initiative for jobs and growth stimulation for inner-city small businesses.

SBA Administrator Steve Preston said the program ‘‘is designed to accelerate growth of companies that are poised for sustained expansion.”

Small businesses in inner cities added nearly three times the number of new jobs than larger companies between 1995 and 2002, according to the SBA.

Opus 8 affiliate acquires Interest in Lore Internet

Clear Day Acquisitions Corp., an affiliate of Opus8 Inc. of Chevy Chase, recently acquired a controlling interest in Lore Internet Systems Inc. in Herndon, Va.

Lore, founded in 1999, provides IT consulting and solutions for voice over Internet protocol communications, virtualization, data center hosting and security services.

‘‘We believe Lore is poised for explosive growth because the company offers a phenomenal suite of services in hot growth sectors,” said Opus8 CEO S. Tien Wong, who will become chairman of the company.

iBiquity Digital Corp. scores $300K from DBED

iBiquity of Columbia is to receive a $300,000 conditional loan for expansion, but the funds are contingent on the company retaining its existing 38 jobs through Dec. 2013 and adding 82 positions.

The loan, through the state Department of Business and Economic Development, will be used in connection with a $30,000 match from Howard County for the company to relocate and expand in Columbia.

iBiquity, founded in 1998, develops digital HD radio technology. The company has more than 100 employees in Columbia, Basking Ridge, N.J., and Pontiac, Mich.

IT employees with MBAs earn more than others

U.S. businesses value information technology professionals with a master’s in business administration more than just IT experience, says a new report from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

An IT employee with an MBA earns 46 percent more than one with only a bachelor’s degree and 37 percent more than one with another master’s degree, according to the study, which was published in this month’s Management Science journal.

In dollars deflated to 1999 figures, IT professionals with MBAs earn more than $24,000 per year more than those with only a bachelor’s and more than $17,000 more than those with other master’s degrees, after controlling for demographic and institutional factors.

W.R. Grace to pay $250M to settle Superfund case

W.R. Grace, the Columbia chemical producer, has agreed to pay $250 million to resolve federal claims involving the asbestos Superfund site in Libby, Mont.

The money will help cover the Environmental Protection Agency’s remediation costs in connection with Grace’s former vermiculite mining and processing operations in the Libby area, according to the company filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Grace will seek approval of the agreement from U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, the court supervising the company’s Chapter 11 cases.