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PREPAID PHONE CARD COMPANY IN INVESTIGATION

TARPON SPRINGS

A Tarpon Springs company is among 10 subpoenaed in state investigation into marketing tactics of prepaid calling-card companies. Cristel Telecom LLC and several other Florida companies are among those that Attorney General Bill McCollum's office is investigating on allegations that they deduct minutes, slap on service charges and add taxes without prior disclosure to users. The investigation also will focus on marketing strategies toward customers who don't speak or read English.

TALLAHASSEE

Insurers' rate hike requests pile up

In contrast to promised relief, property insurance rate filings seeking sharp increases continue to pour into Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty's office. McCarty said Monday that as of July 17, his office has received 46 rate filings from property insurance companies, of which two ask for rate decreases, nine request no change, and 35 ask for rate increases. Of the 35 rate increase requests, the average increase is 37.3 percent. McCarty said he remains "optimistic that the vast majority of companies will do the right thing by their policyholders.''

CLEARWATER

Lincare's profits jump 8 percent

Lincare Holdings Inc., which delivers oxygen and other respiratory therapy to homes, reported a second-quarter profit of $56-million on revenue of $397-million. It was an 8 percent increase over profits of $51.9-million in the same quarter last year. The company attributed the gain to a combination of acquisitions and internal growth. During the first half of this year, Lincare added 21 locations for a total of 999. Lincare provides services and equipment to nearly 700,000 customers in 47 states.

TAMPA BAY AREA

Dispatch center bringing 30 jobs

The Tampa Bay area will now serve as SuperShuttle International's central dispatch center in a move that brings 30 jobs to the area. Four East Coast dispatch centers were centralized into the one in Tampa Bay: Washington D.C. and Baltimore dispatch centers were consolidated in May and New York's will be by month's end. The new center will be responsible for the communication and deployment of SuperShuttle's Eastern Seaboard operations.

Staff and wire reports

MERGER CREATES OIL GIANT

Transocean Inc., the largest offshore drilling contractor, said Monday it will combine with GlobalSantaFe Corp. The deal includes a $15-billion cash payout to shareholders of both companies. The companies estimated the new entity's value will be $53-billion.

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