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Tampa Bay / State

Published Oct. 2, 2005

Orlando may get two

more theme parks

Universal City Florida plans two theme parks, 13,000 hotel rooms and a shopping and nightlife district on 2,080 acres it is buying near International Drive in Orlando, according to preliminary plans filed with the governor's office. The expansion would come after Universal's owners, Seagram Co. and the British Rank Organization, open a companion theme park now under construction next to Universal Studios Florida. Universal described the plans as exploratory, rather than final.

STOCK OFFERING PLANNED: Largo-based Vision Twenty-One Inc. said it expects to offer 2.8-million shares of common stock to the public. Proceeds from the sale will be used to help finance the company's pending Block Vision acquisition and to repay outstanding debt. Vision Twenty-One is an administrator for eye-care networks composed of optometrists, ophthalmologists, ambulatory surgical centers and retail optical centers.

KNIGHT-RIDDER IN NEWSPAPER SWAP: Knight-Ridder of Miami, owner of the Miami Herald, said Thursday that it is selling three Southern newspapers to Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. in exchange for three Georgia publications. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Knight-Ridder is selling the Boca Raton News, the Union-Recorder in Milledgeville, Ga., and the Newberry (S.C.) Observer. In return, Community Newspapers will swap the Daily Sun in Warner Robins, the weekly Byron Gazette and the Buyers' Guide of Houston County.

INVESTOR WINS AWARD: Clearwater investor Maxine Martincich has won a $228,585 arbitration award, including $171,932 in punitive damages, against Sovereign Equity Management Corp. of Deerfield Beach and her former stockbroker, John Wohlberg. Arbitrators for the National Association of Securities dealers found that Wohlberg and the brokerage firm engaged in gross misconduct in handling her account. Largo attorney Allan J. Fedor said Mrs. Martincich, a retired receptionist, had trading-related losses and paid excessive commissions of $42,983. Neither Sovereign nor Wohlberg could be reached for comment.

MAJORITY INTEREST IN CLEARWATER FIRM SOLD: State Street Global Advisors of Boston has acquired a majority interest in Advanced Investment Technology, a Clearwater firm with $150-million in assets under management. Principals Dean Barr and Ganesh Mani and Investment Technology Group Inc. will continue to have ownership interests in the firm, which specializes in stock selection using artificial intelligence computer technology. Barr also will head a new SSgA Research Lab that will serve as a resource to all of State Street's investment groups.


WASTE MANAGEMENT SHARES FALL: With the sudden departure of top executives of Waste Management Inc., including a chief executive hired only three months ago, analysts predicted Thursday there will be no quick way to get the trash hauler out of the dumps. The company's shares tumbled as much as 24 percent as Wall Street was abuzz with speculation the departed executives had discovered major accounting irregularities that would impede implementation of an aggressive turnaround plan. Waste Management's chief financial officer and his predecessor also have left the company. Last week, the company said it had overstated its operating profit in last year's summer quarter. But the company's new acting board chairman and chief executive, Robert S. "Steve" Miller, an outside director and turnaround specialist, said late Thursday that he knew of no irregularities in the company's accounting.


Because of incorrect information from the Associated Press, the closing price for ABR Information Services was wrong in the market listings Wednesday. The correct closing price was $24.25.



7,381.67 120.28 6.14

-125.00 -0.50 -0.06