Thursday, November 27, 2008

PureRay Corp. to Extend Filing of Form 15

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- PureRay Corporation (OTC Bulletin Board: PURY), a lighting-technology company specializing in solar-powered products, announces today it will extend the date for filing a Certification and Notice of Termination of Registration on Form 15 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Originally set for November 28, 2008, the filing date for the Form 15 to affect the deregistration of PureRay's common stock is being extended to December 12, 2008, to give PureRay's Board of Directors and management time to consider strategic alternatives to deregistration that they believe may be in the best interests of PureRay and its shareholders. PureRay may determine to implement any such strategic alternatives and, as a result, not file the Form 15 to affect the deregistration of its common stock. However, PureRay has not yet determined to implement any such strategic alternatives to deregistration. The determination to implement any such strategic alternatives to deregistration or not file the Form 15 to affect the deregistration of PureRay's common stock will be made by PureRay's Board of Directors.

"We want to weigh all options that are available to us," said Mr. Jefrey Wallace, PureRay Corporation's President and CEO. "PureRay shareholders deserve no less than certainty from its Board of Directors that the company is moving in the right direction with regard to its being a public company."

Upon filing a Form 15, PureRay Corporation's obligations to file certain reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K, would immediately be suspended; deregistration of the company's common stock would become effective ninety (90) days after the filing with the SEC. Upon the effectiveness of the deregistration of PureRay Corporation's common stock, it would no longer be a public reporting company, and its securities would cease trading on the OTC Bulletin Board.

PureRay makes a self-contained, solar-powered LED lighting system for use in markets without access to electrical-power grids.

Based in Atlanta, PureRay is committed to improving the quality of light and the quality of life globally through safe, energy-efficient lighting. PureRay focuses on making solar-based charging and lighting systems practical and cost-effective for developing-world countries in Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as for domestic markets. Its proprietary lighting system is patent-pending.

This Press Release may contain, in addition to historical information, forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These forward-looking statements are identified by their use of terms and phrases such as "believe," "expect," "plan," "anticipate" and similar expressions identifying forward-looking statements.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bayer Healthcare to Pay U.S. $97.5 Million to Settle Allegations of Paying Kickbacks to Diabetic Suppliers

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Bayer HealthCare LLC (Bayer) has agreed to pay the United States $97.5 million plus interest to settle allegations that it paid kickbacks to a number of diabetic suppliers and caused those suppliers to submit false claims to Medicare, the Justice Department announced today. The settlement resolves allegations that Bayer engaged in a cash-for-patient scheme through which the company paid 11 diabetic suppliers to convert their patients to Bayer's products from supplies manufactured by its competitors.

The Tarrytown, N.Y.-based company manufactures diabetic self-testing supplies, including glucose monitors and testing strips. Bayer contracts with direct-to-patient diabetic suppliers who market and sell these products to beneficiaries and submit claims for reimbursement to Medicare.

Between 1998 and 2002, Bayer allegedly paid Liberty Medical Supply Inc., one of the largest direct-to-patient diabetic suppliers, approximately $2.5 million to convert its patients to Bayer supplies. The alleged kickbacks were based on the number of patients that Liberty successfully converted to Bayer supplies and were disguised as payments for advertising. In addition, Bayer allegedly paid kickbacks of approximately $375,000 to 10 other diabetic suppliers to convert patients to Bayer supplies.

"If medical device manufacturers want to serve Medicare beneficiaries they must follow the law," said Gregory G. Katsas, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. "Paying healthcare suppliers to place a particular brand of device with Medicare beneficiaries violates the law and will not be tolerated."

The settlement resolves claims submitted to Medicare by the 11 suppliers for Bayer supplies from 1998 through 2007. Under the terms of the settlement, Bayer agreed to enter into a corporate integrity agreement with the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

"Device manufacturers who pay illegal kickbacks should expect to be held accountable," said Daniel R. Levinson, HHS Inspector General. "OIG's compliance agreement with Bayer includes specific requirements for the board of directors and management that will enable OIG to closely monitor company practices affecting Federal health care programs and beneficiaries."

The investigation was referred to the Justice Department's Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch, by the FBI and the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, in West Palm Beach, Fla.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Industry veteran named director of the Georgia Centers of Innovation-Manufacturing

Note: still playing catch-up on some important / worthy business announcements we've received.

Georgia’s Centers of Innovation program recently named John Zegers director of the Centers of Innovation-Manufacturing, with offices at Lanier Technical College in Oakwood. Zegers’ expertise in the industry will enhance the Center’s role as a critical resource for manufacturing in Georgia.

“John Zegers is well qualified to serve as an advocate for our state’s manufacturing industry,” said Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), which houses the Centers of Innovation program. “The Centers of Innovation-Manufacturing is a key component of our strategy to reach out to Georgia’s core industries and give them the tools to succeed.”

Zegers joins the center as an 18-year veteran in manufacturing, sales and consulting. He was formerly a statewide project manager with GDEcD, a manufacturer’s representative and served as president of a manufacturer’s representative agency. Zegers’ career has touched on many aspects of manufacturing, including issues that involve working in a global marketplace.

Zegers received his Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University while working summers in a steel coating, roll forming and assembly manufacturing plant as a production and quality control manager. He is a member of the Georgia Economic Developers Association.
“John has the wide-ranging industry experience to make him an effective leader of the Centers of Innovation-Manufacturing for the state of Georgia,” said Sterling Wharton, director of the Georgia Centers of Innovation. “He will help increase the center’s visibility and connect manufacturers with the resources they need to grow.”

The Centers of Innovation-Manufacturing is hosted by Lanier Technical College in Oakwood and provides statewide strategic industry expertise, accelerating growth among Georgia’s manufacturing sector. For more information about the center, please visit

The Centers of Innovation (COI) program focuses on six areas of strategic industry growth and expansion: agriculture, aerospace, energy, life sciences, logistics and manufacturing, located respectively in Tifton, Eastman, Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah and Oakwood. COI's services include access to deep industry expertise and university-level research; product commercialization, and client connections to key state resources including potential investor networks. For more information, visit

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the state's sales and marketing arm, the lead agency for attracting new business investment, encouraging the expansion of existing industry and small businesses, locating new markets for Georgia products, attracting tourists to Georgia, and promoting the state as a location for film, video and music projects, as well as planning and mobilizing state resources for economic development.

Chris Young named president of Protocol and Diplomacy International-Protocol Officers Association

(This is an older release, but we hated that we'd missed it, so we're sharing anyway!)

Chris Young, Chief of Protocol and Director of International Affairs for the State of Georgia, was recently named to a two-year term as president of the Protocol and Diplomacy International-Protocol Officers Association (PDI-POA).

“Doing business on a global platform is imperative to succeed in economic development today, and Chris has been an integral part of Georgia’s international team,” said Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “During Chris’s tenure, Georgia has seen a significant increase in inbound and outbound missions, as well as the number of countries with consular, trade, or chamber of commerce offices.”

Young, who was named to his state post in 2005 by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, is, at 30, the association’s youngest president. PDI-POA is the major global organization for the protocol profession, which seeks to facilitate communication, understanding, and cooperation between individuals, governments and cultures.
A native of Fitzgerald, Young serves as Georgia’s senior diplomatic officer and handles foreign affairs on behalf of the Governor and the Commissioner of Economic Development. He has organized visits for presidents, vice presidents, ministers, and ambassadors to the State, and planned and executed gubernatorial and senior official missions to almost twenty foreign countries. He serves as liaison between the State and the international consular corps and trade community located in Georgia. Prior to this appointment, Young was a special assistant and personal aide to Governor Perdue.

Young, a Harry S. Truman Scholar, graduated with highest honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology, earning a B.S. degree in History. He received his law degree, with honor, from the University of Georgia. In March 2006, Mr. Young was named by Georgia Tech as the Ivan Allen Alumni Legacy Award recipient. Currently he is one of twenty members of the search committee for the 11th president of Georgia Tech.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the state's sales and marketing arm. The agency attracts new business, encourages the expansion of existing industry and small businesses, and locates new markets for Georgia products. It also markets Georgia to tourists and promotes the state as a location for film, music and digital entertainment projects. For more information, visit

Friday, November 21, 2008

Regions Program Helps Keep Residential Mortgage Foreclosures Low

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF) today announced that it has reached out to over 103,000 residential first mortgage and home equity customers in the first year of its program to help customers avoid hardship. As a result, Regions has taken steps including renegotiating the terms of mortgages, keeping families in their homes and allowing the company to maintain a foreclosure rate of less than one percent for residential first mortgages.

“We have always taken a very proactive approach to ensure that customers who encounter financial difficulty know that they have options and we want to work with them,” said David Rupp, Regions’ senior executive vice president, Consumer Services. “Foreclosure is always a last resort and we continue to work with all customers to help them stay in their homes whenever possible. In fact, our foreclosure rate is less than half the national average.”

Regions launched its extensive Customer Assistance Program (CAP) for troubled borrowers in late 2007, well before the full effects of the credit crisis were realized by most consumers and businesses. Through this comprehensive program, the company has taken the initiative to help distressed borrowers on a variety of fronts, including:

Proactive solutions

* Contacting customers with adjustable rate mortgages six months prior to rate adjustments to discuss modification of their existing loan or the establishment of a new loan.
* Identifying loans that may qualify for the FHA Secure home loan program.
* Training customer service associates in finding options for distressed borrowers.

Customer communication

* Distributing information flyers for branches and special mailings providing contact information and loss mitigation options.
* Producing DVDs addressing payment hardship assistance.
* Posting detailed information about assistance available to homeowners on the website.

Community-based partnerships

* Implementing the Hope for Homeowners Program, a HUD initiative that provides a refinance option for borrowers who are current or delinquent on their mortgage with a proven inability to make the monthly mortgage payment.
* Funding efforts by NeighborWorks, a nonprofit agency offering borrowers counseling and additional assistance.
* Participating in local foreclosure prevention clinics sponsored by third parties, such as HUD.

Regions does not originate subprime mortgages, option ARMs, negative amortization mortgages or mortgages with below market introductory rates. These are the kinds of mortgages that have been primarily responsible for the rising number of foreclosures throughout the country.

“Regions has a strong record of responsible lending, and in its first year this program has provided even greater resources and options for our borrowers,” said Rupp. “In situations where we hold the first mortgage and can negotiate with willing customers, we are doing all that we can to keep people in their homes.”

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Georgia Association of Homes and Services for the Aging Announces Name Change

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Advancing the Future of Aging Services in GA -- Aging Services of Georgia is the new name of the 35-year-old association representing the state's 150-plus nonprofit housing and service providers for the aging. The rationale for the new identity, replacing Georgia Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (gahsa), is to position the public-service organization as the leading advocate of quality senior living and care today and into the future, officials explained. The new name becomes effective immediately.

"Aging research, market analyses and government funding sources suggest baby boomers and future generations will reside in environments much different than those available today," said Walter Coffey, the association's President and CEO. "Our new name Aging Services of Georgia simply and more inclusively reflects these new alternatives for seniors, such as home-based care, adult day services and community services."

To complement its representation for providers of senior living and care, many Aging Services of Georgia's resources now are accessible to older Georgians and the general public through its website,

Aging Services of Georgia members provide a wide range of options which include, but are not limited to, senior housing, affordable housing, continuing care retirement communities, assisted living, skilled nursing and home and community-based care and adult day services - that collectively serve more than 127,000 older Georgians across the state. The association's comprehensive activities include advocating public policies, providing excellence in continuing education via the Georgia Institute on Aging, strengthening leadership development in the field of Aging Services, and producing communications and other resources by conducting a statewide consumer education campaign via the Center for Positive Aging.

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Handgun Manufacturer GLOCK, Inc. Announces their Mid-Year Guidance Concerning the Sales Efforts

Handgun Manufacturer GLOCK, Inc. Announces their Mid-Year Guidance Concerning the Sales Efforts for U.S. Law Enforcement, Commercial and Federal/Military Markets

With more than half a year in the books, handgun manufacturer, GLOCK, Inc. announced today industry guidance on the firearms market and the success of the company for the fiscal year. Coming off of five years of record sales both in the Civilian, Law Enforcement and the Federal/Military segments of their business, the U.S. based manufacturer revealed that demand for their product has been unprecedented. With the downturned economy and the jump in sales activity for sport shooting and personal defense, the company is making plans to expand for future sales similar to the ones generated at the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) show.

Despite GLOCK Inc.'s good fortune, other manufacturers are falling on hard times. "We are seeing that certain categories of the firearms industry are severely depressed, and the companies who lack sales in those specific categories are finding their bottom line adversely affected and are not maximizing owner profitability," commented Gary Fletcher, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "Over the last couple of years we saw a certain amount of consolidation in the industry, yet we also witnessed more and more companies expand their product line on the weight of their brand and take on tremendous amounts of debt. And in certain cases we saw companies do both. As in any industry, companies that incurred massive debt, especially in the last few years, who are expanding based on their brand are now seeing that debt as an anchor. They fail to have the necessary capital to invest and make their product more valuable and it further impinges on their bottom line. And the folly of this management style is showing, as the competition has been forced to offer costly incentives, which are difficult to fulfill, so they can boost their unit sales at the expense of their bottom line. To further degrade their profit margin and brand, many of these same companies will take losses against their more popular and profitable products to gain market share based on price rather than product capabilities, which in turn forces them to record Unit Sale increases while taking Gross Margin decreases. All of this further weakens their economic viability in this tight credit market."

But as other companies struggle with incremental gains, GLOCK, Inc., with over 65% of Law Enforcement using their handguns featuring the highly regarded "Safe Action System" continues to set a blistering pace in agency conversions. More and more agencies are determining that rock solid reliability and world class customer service combined with an economical price tag win out over marketing and pricing schemes dreamed up to move excess inventory. In the last eighteen months GLOCK, Inc. has converted over eighty (80) agencies in the United States from a single competitor. This success has carried over to the conversions of agencies from other competitors as well.

Not to be outdone, the Federal Law Enforcement and Military segments continue to gain market share to put GLOCKs into the hands of U.S. Government forces serving domestically and overseas. Unlike some competitors, GLOCK, Inc.'s focus has been and will remain on those who go in harm's way to protect and serve. They use a bottom-up end user compared to a top-down business model. "This sales strategy is proving itself on a daily basis as GLOCK replaces other manufacturer's pistols as their respective pistol of choice," commented Joshua Dorsey, Vice President of Operations and Federal/Military Sales. "We have worked diligently with our contacts to make sure that the units that are outfitted with our product have the best equipment configured in the manner they specifically request. We stand ready to not only meet U.S. Government requirements, but to exceed them."

The Commercial segment remains GLOCK Inc.'s focal point as made evident at NASGW. Having been the past recipient of the 2005 Manufacturer of the Year and the 2006 Chairman's Award, the highest award given at the show, GLOCK, Inc. once again took high honors in 2008 with its second Chairman's Award. "The NASGW award system is based upon certain criteria that wholesalers in the Sporting Goods industry define as crucial," stated Craig Dutton, Director of Commercial and Law Enforcement Sales. "Being the recipient of this award is a culmination of the hard work and effort of the entire organization. Our employees are honored to be the recipient of this award that is voted on, and presented by, our customers."

The Firearms Industry expects that economic uncertainty will remain for some time and GLOCK, Inc. is prepared for growth. Being privately owned, and with no debt on their books, GLOCK, Inc. will soon break ground and expand its manufacturing capabilities beyond its current state. As businesses flourish and flounder, the survivors will be those companies that practice sound, conservative business practices, leveraging their ability to delight customers beyond their desired expectations. GLOCK, Inc. has been perfecting that practice for the past 22 years and envisions even better days ahead.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lockheed Martin Receives $156 Million Contract to Extend Canadian CP-140 Aurora Aircraft Service Life

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) has received a $156 million contract to provide the P-3 Aircraft Service Life Extension Program (ASLEP) for the Canadian Forces' CP-140 aircraft fleet.

Under this contract, 10 Canadian CP-140 Aurora aircraft will receive Life Extension Kits consisting of all-new outer wings, center wing lower surface assemblies, horizontal stabilizers, wing and horizontal stabilizer leading edges, and various items to be installed on a conditional basis. Lockheed Martin Life Extension Kits will provide, on average, an additional 20-25 years of service life for the world's Orion and Aurora fleets and will greatly reduce maintenance costs over the aircraft's service life.

"Lockheed Martin Life Extension Kits will give the Canadian Forces an additional 15,000 flight hours of service life from their Auroras," said Ray Burick, Lockheed Martin vice president of P-3/S-3 programs. "The ASLEP solution leverages the knowledge and experience of Lockheed Martin as the original equipment manufacturer to support the P-3 and CP-140 aircraft."

Canada becomes the fourth customer under the Lockheed Martin P-3 ASLEP program. Other customers for the Life Extension Kits are the Royal Norwegian Air Force and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The U.S. Navy is under contract for 13 sets of new outer wings. A proposal for the Taiwan P-3 fleet is also in work.

"Lockheed Martin's ASLEP solution is the most cost-effective, lowest risk choice for long-term P-3 or CP-140 sustainment," said Burick. "As the P-3 original equipment manufacturer, Lockheed Martin is uniquely qualified to sustain and support the world's P-3 fleets."

Lockheed Martin is a major supplier of logistics systems and lifetime support and performance-based logistics services to military and civil government customers. The corporation provides solutions for platform maintenance, modifications and repair, material readiness and distribution, and global supply chain command and control.

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U.S. Forest Service Strengthens Environmental Commitment Through Partnership With Call2Recycle

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. Forest Service (USFS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the largest forestry research organization in the world, and Call2Recycle(R), the nation's most comprehensive rechargeable battery and cell phone recycling solution, have partnered to provide all USFS units, and by extension their local communities, a convenient way to recycle rechargeable batteries.

Call2Recycle collection boxes will be located in approximately 500 USFS offices, allowing staff and local community members to reduce their environmental footprint by properly disposing of their used rechargeable batteries and old cell phones.

"With its efforts to protect our national forest resources, the U.S. Forest Service is already a leading environmental steward and an example for other federal agencies," said Carl Smith, Chief Executive Officer, RBRC. "By joining Call2Recycle, the agency is bolstering its environmental platform and engaging local communities to do something simple to protect the environment."

Call2Recycle provides a convenient way to collect and recycle the used rechargeable batteries found in cordless electronic products, such as cell phones, digital cameras, laptop computers, cordless power tools, two-way radios, mp3 players, cordless phones, PDAs and camcorders. With the addition of the USFS to its participant roster, Call2Recycle adds to the more than 50,000 enrolled collection sites throughout the U.S. and Canada where rechargeable batteries and cell phones can be recycled.

"Partnering with Call2Recycle is a natural alignment, as both our organizations are committed to improving sustainable operations and protecting the environment," said Susan Alden Weingardt, Partnership Coordinator, USFS, Rocky Mountain Region. "We can always be doing more to lessen our environmental impact; Call2Recycle will help strengthen our environmental efforts at a grassroots level. Our mission has always been to care for the land and serve the community, and this partnership is an extension of that mission."

USFS was established in 1905 to provide technical and financial assistance to state and private forestry agencies. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., USFS operates throughout nine geographical regions of the U.S. and manages public lands in national forests and grasslands, encompassing 193 million acres.

For more information and local Call2Recycle collections sites, call toll-free 877-2-RECYCLE or visit

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ford Sells a Portion of Its Stake in Mazda; Two Companies Will Continue Strategic Relationship

-- Ford Motor Company said it will sell a portion of its ownership stake in Mazda Motor Corp., and the two companies will continue their successful strategic relationship. The ratio of Ford's ownership of Mazda stock has been reduced from 33.4 percent to just over 13 percent.

-- The action is in line with Ford's plan to strengthen its balance sheet and ensure it has the resources to fund its product-led transformation plan focusing on the Ford brand worldwide.

-- Under the new agreement, Ford and Mazda will continue their ongoing joint ventures, as well as the sharing of platforms and powertrains. Ford and Mazda's nearly 30-year relationship has been and continues to be an effective way to utilize the resources of both organizations and maximize joint synergies.

-- The divestiture of Ford's shares in Mazda will be accomplished both through the sale of shares to Mazda and the sale of shares to a group of Mazda's strategic business partners.

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) today announced it has entered into an agreement to sell a portion of its stake in Mazda Motor Corp. and that the two companies will continue their successful strategic relationship that spans nearly 30 years.

In line with Ford's plan to strengthen its balance sheet and ensure it has the resources to implement its product-led transformation plan focusing on the Ford brand worldwide, the company said it is reducing its stake in Mazda from 33.4 percent to just over 13 percent.

Under the agreement, the divestiture of Ford's shares in Mazda will be accomplished both through the sale of shares to Mazda and the sale of shares to a group of Mazda's strategic business partners. The sales of the Mazda shares will net Ford approximately $540 million.

"This agreement allows Ford to raise capital that will help fund our product-led transformation, and at the same time, allows Ford and Mazda to continue our successful strategic relationship in the best interest of both companies," said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. "Ford will continue to focus on the Ford brand worldwide and deliver the products our customers really want and value."

Ford and Mazda will continue their ongoing joint ventures, as well as the sharing of platforms and powertrains. Ford will remain Mazda's largest shareholder and will maintain a seat on Mazda's Board of Directors.

"The sale of Mazda shares by our partner, Ford, will not result in any change in Mazda's strategic direction and we will continue to accelerate our product-led brand improvement and cost innovation initiatives," said Mazda Chairman, President and CEO Hisakazu Imaki. "We will continue our strategic relationship through our ongoing joint ventures with Ford, as well as the sharing of platforms and powertrains."

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Famous Dave's Announces Closure of Atlanta Market and Lease Terminations

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Famous Dave's of America, Inc. (NASDAQ: DAVE) today announced it has closed its three restaurants in Atlanta, Georgia as a result of current and expected continuing cash losses from those units. The company continues to have discussions with the landlords of these restaurants regarding a buyout of these leases.

The company also announced that it has terminated two leases for restaurants expected to open in 2009, in Hoffman Estates, Illinois and Hyattsville, Maryland. Famous Dave’s could recognize up to $2.5 million in charges in its fiscal 2008 fourth quarter related to the Atlanta closings and lease terminations.

“We made the decision to take these actions in order to preserve cash and respond appropriately to the current slowdown in market conditions,” said Christopher O’Donnell, president and CEO of Famous Dave’s of America. “With consumer confidence at an all-time low and retail spending dropping at significant rates, we need to ensure that our balance sheet and cash flow are strong and able to weather any continued softness in the economy.”

The company said it is reevaluating its future sites based on changing site demographic profiles and commercial real estate values, improving the unit level economics of its existing restaurant base and developing and refining a smaller, more cost-effective prototype. Operationally, the company is focusing on making sure that its organization is of an appropriate size to maximize its general and administrative resources and eliminate unnecessary expenditures.

“All of our priorities – from the size, structure and growth rate of our restaurant base to our day-to-day operations – remain unchanged from our recent conference call,” O’Donnell said. “We will continue to focus on product enhancement, and are working hard to enhance the ‘Famous’ experience our customers have long associated with our brand. This is a time to seek excellence and innovation in our operations with creative food offerings and a heightened level of customer service."

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

FedEx Ground to Increase 2009 Rates by 5.9 Percent

(BUSINESS WIRE)--FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) will increase the standard list rates for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery by an average of 5.9 percent. The new rates will be effective Jan. 5, 2009.

FedEx Corp. previously announced that it would increase shipping rates for FedEx Express by an average of 6.9 percent for U.S. and U.S. export services, also effective Jan. 5, 2009.

The FedEx Express rate increase will be partially offset by adjusting the fuel price at which the fuel surcharge begins, reducing the fuel surcharge by two percentage points. Currently, FedEx Express has a trigger price of $1.14 per gallon of U.S. Gulf Coast kerosene-type jet fuel. Beginning Jan. 5, 2009, the trigger price will be $1.30 per gallon.

Additional changes will be made to other FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery surcharges and to some FedEx Express surcharges effective Jan. 5, 2009. The details of these surcharges and the new rates are available at

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Scientific Games Signs Three-Year Contract Extension with Georgia Lottery Corporation

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Scientific Games (NASDAQ: SGMS) announced it has signed a three-year contract extension as the primary vendor to supply instant tickets and related services including marketing, shipping, warehousing, game design, inventory control, distribution and sales staff training, to the Georgia Lottery Corporation. The extension commences in September 2010 and lengthens the current contract to 2013. Revenue to Scientific Games is estimated at approximately $28 million per year.

"The Georgia Lottery Corporation has been a valued instant ticket customer of ours since their inception in 1993," said Lorne Weil, Chairman and CEO of Scientific Games. "The Georgia Lottery is one of the top performing lotteries in the country, and we are proud to have helped to grow their instant ticket sales over 60% during the last five years. We look forward to continuing to grow revenues for education and the HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K Programs for years to come."

"The Georgia Lottery Corporation's (GLC) successful 15 year partnership with Scientific Games has resulted in record sales and profits to education here in Georgia," said GLC President and CEO Margaret DeFrancisco. "We look forward to continuing efforts with our partners to raise even more dollars for Georgia students."

In Fiscal 2008, the Georgia Lottery Corporation produced $2.4 billion in instant ticket sales, representing 68% of total lottery sales, and returned $867 million to fund educational causes.

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SBA Announces New Ways to Improve Small Businesses Access to Capital

(BUSINESS WIRE)--In response to the credit crunch, today SBA’s Acting Administrator Sandy K. Baruah announced important loan program changes to help the agency’s lending partners increase access to capital for small businesses.

First, an interim final rule allowing new SBA loans to be made with an alternative base interest rate, the one month LIBOR rate (London Interbank Offered Rate), in addition to the prime rate, which was previously allowed. In the past 60 days, both the prime and LIBOR rates have not yet returned to their historical relationship—of roughly 300 basis points between the two rates. The mismatch between the rates is squeezing SBA lenders out of the lending market, since their costs are based on the LIBOR rate.

“This change will help more small businesses obtain capital to grow their businesses and create new jobs,” Baruah said. “By allowing both rates, SBA is making its programs more flexible, increasing opportunities to access capital and giving both lending partners and small business customers more options to meet their needs.”

The second change allows a new structure for assembling SBA loans into pools for sale in the secondary market. The enhanced flexibility in loan pool structures can help affect profitability and liquidity in the secondary market for SBA guaranteed loans, especially with the current market conditions. Because the average interest rate is used, these pools are easier for pool assemblers to create, thus providing incentives for more investors to bid on these loans.

“The challenge small businesses face today is not the cost of capital, it is access to capital,” said Baruah. “Interest rates are at historically low levels meaning money is inexpensive, yet lenders aren’t lending and borrowers aren’t borrowing. This indicates markets are frozen due to liquidity concerns. This interim final rule is an important step to reenergize the lenders to make SBA-backed loans and will help open the gateway of capital for entrepreneurs.”

“SBA moved quickly on these changes after consulting with small businesses, lending partners and other government agencies,” said Eric R. Zarnikow, SBA’s Associate Administrator for the Office of Capital Access. “We’re confident these solutions will help free up capital so lenders can continue to make SBA-backed loans.”

By addressing market issues that were impeding the funding streams for both lenders and small businesses, SBA is making capital more available to America’s small businesses. The SBA will be issuing additional technical guidance to lenders in the coming weeks relating to the implementation of these important changes.

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Coventry Health Care of Georgia, Inc. Expands Coverage to Offer Medicare Advantage Plans to Beneficiaries in Seven Additional Georgia Counties

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Coventry Health Care of Georgia, Inc. has expanded its current service area to include eligible Medicare beneficiaries in the following Georgia counties:

* Cherokee
* Cobb
* DeKalb
* Douglas
* Forsyth
* Fulton
* Paulding

Coventry Health Care of Georgia’s current service area includes:

* Bryan
* Chatham
* Effingham
* Liberty

During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, which runs from November 15 through December 31, Medicare beneficiaries in these counties can enroll for coverage that includes services not routinely offered by Original Medicare, including:

* Prescription drug coverage that includes generic coverage-even through the coverage gap
* No- or low-cost preventive services
* Dental program covering preventive dental benefits
* Health club membership

Depending on the plan options selected, Medicare beneficiaries can take advantage of these benefits for no additional monthly plan premium.

“Given the current economic situation, Medicare eligibles and their families are understandably concerned about getting the most value for their dollar,” said Tom Davis, chief executive officer. “The Medicare Advantage plans offered by Coventry Health Care of Georgia offer a way to get coverage and service beyond what is offered by Original Medicare, in many cases for no additional monthly plan premium.”

“Our priorities are to help Medicare eligible beneficiaries be healthy, save money and be independent,” he added.

Individuals wishing to learn more can call 1-866-323-6642 (TTY/TDD 1-888-788-4010) to schedule a home visit by a plan representative or to request an information packet. Additional information can also be found at

Coventry Health Care of Georgia is also working with licensed insurance agents and brokers statewide to provide information to their clients.

“Our agents and brokers must pass a rigorous examination on Medicare and on our products before being allowed to promote our plans to beneficiaries,” noted Davis. “We want to be sure that Medicare beneficiaries get the information they want and need to help them make the right choice for them.”

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

SunTrust Web Site Helps Business Owners Get Through the Day

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI) today announced the launch of Business Solutions Central (, an informational and educational resource designed to complement SunTrust's offerings and long-standing commitment to businesses. The site gives owners of small and medium sized businesses solid advice, education and solutions to achieve success on their own terms, and when it's most convenient for them.

"SunTrust understands that while business owners are often forced to juggle many roles within their daily responsibilities, their core focus is to make their businesses profitable and achieve success," said Gay Abbott, executive vice president, head of SunTrust's Commercial line of business. "Business Solutions Central was developed with businesses in mind. The site provides resources and solutions to help owners better manage time and cash flow while optimizing business efficiencies."

Abbott also said that clients and business owners are wanting to bank with a strong financial institution where their money is safe and one that provides support for everyday business challenges. By speaking with thousands of business owners, SunTrust learned that on any given day, business owners and those managing the finances of those businesses are faced with one or more of the following challenges: leveraging time; stretching money; protecting their businesses; maximizing profits; and managing growth. SunTrust has methodically extended its business solutions offerings to address this by not only providing products and services, but also providing ongoing education and actionable steps to help business owners be successful and profitable.

Business Solutions Central is an educational resource for all businesses providing tips, tools, best practices reports, case studies and expert advice. The site differs from other Web-based business resources by:

-- Offering original research and advice through SunTrust's best practice reports and faculty members. Faculty members are a combination of SunTrust advisors and independent, third parties with proven business expertise across a variety of subject matters;

-- Providing information in a variety of easily-accessible formats, including a monthly podcast series featuring business owners who have learned how to deal with the every day challenge of owning a business; The second "A Day in the Life of ... " podcast is available today on the Web site;

-- Addressing the challenges often faced in operating a business and providing practical suggestions to overcome these challenges in the Business Owner's Playbook; and

-- Allowing business owners to learn more about SunTrust sponsored education events, workshops and seminars, such as the Business over Breakfast series, which offer opportunities for SunTrust and business owners to share business challenges, best practices and business successes.

In addition to launching Business Solutions Central, SunTrust has also recently begun a tour of the greater Atlanta area with it its mobile educational vehicle, Business on the Go. Business on the Go is touring Atlanta, and soon will be touring Charlotte to provide business owners with a unique, hands-on opportunity to learn more about the ways they can address their operational efficiency challenges.

SunTrust also offers services specifically targeted to addressing business needs. The following are some of the tools that allow business owners to focus on building and growing their business rather than the day-to-day financial and operational concerns such as running to the bank for deposits, dealing with fraudulent activity and payroll:

-- Online Cash Manager with Fraud Inspector(SM) offers businesses online banking solutions designed to meet their needs - from basic banking to advanced cash management. With Fraud Inspector business owners can review the previous business day's transactions that have cleared their SunTrust deposit accounts and direct the return of suspected fraudulent items. SunTrust is the first of the top 10 banks to offer an innovative anti-fraud feature to small business owners. Online Cash Manager with Fraud Inspector earned the 2008 Barlow Monarch Innovation Award for most innovative feature.

-- Online Check Deposit helps businesses save time and money and better manage cash flow using a certified scanner to capture check images and submit deposits electronically to SunTrust from their office with same-day credits as late as 8:30 p.m. ET. This solution allows businesses to make deposits later in the day and reduce trips to the bank for routine transactions such as depositing checks.

-- Online Payroll provides clients the ability to manage payroll information easily and pay employees by check or direct deposit in three easy clicks. SunTrust Online Payroll also calculates, files and pays all federal, state and local payroll taxes-guaranteed.

Visit to learn how SunTrust can help businesses build a solid foundation for success.

SunTrust Banks, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the nation's largest banking organizations, serving a broad range of consumer, commercial, corporate and institutional clients. As of September 30, 2008, SunTrust had total assets of $174.8 billion and total deposits of $115.9 billion. The Company operates an extensive branch and ATM network throughout the high- growth Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states and a full array of technology-based, 24-hour delivery channels. The Company also serves customers in selected markets nationally. Its primary businesses include deposit, credit, trust and investment services. Through various subsidiaries the Company provides mortgage banking, insurance, brokerage, equipment leasing and capital markets services. SunTrust's Internet address is .

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Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Elects AGCO CEO Martin Richenhagen as 2009 Chairman

(BUSINESS WIRE)--AGCO, Your Agriculture Company, (NYSE: AG), a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, announced today that Martin Richenhagen, AGCO Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, has been elected 2009 Chairman of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the North American-based international trade group representing the off-road equipment manufacturing industry. AEM, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with offices in the capitals of Washington, D.C., Ottawa, Beijing and a European presence in Brussels, represents more than 800 companies in the agriculture, construction, forestry, mining and utility sectors.

Martin Richenhagen brings to this position a broad range of industrial and manufacturing experience, and, as an international business executive, perfectly complies with the association’s guiding principle of thinking and acting globally. Prior to joining AGCO in 2004, he served as Executive Vice President at Forbo International SA, a manufacturing firm specializing in flooring materials, headquartered in Switzerland. He also served as Group President for German-based CLAAS KGaA, a global manufacturer of agricultural equipment, and as Senior Executive Vice President of Field Operations for Schindler Holding GmbH in Germany, where his responsibilities included the management of the entire sales force leadership, customer service and logistics.

Martin Richenhagen, the former First Vice Chairman of AEM, replaces the 2008 Chairman Glen Tellock. Together with the other officers and the association’s board, the new Chairman will set the guidelines and operating policies of AEM on behalf of its members in areas including technical and safety services, trade shows, market information and global public policy.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lockheed Martin Delivers First of Four C-130J Airlifters to Royal Norwegian Air Force

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) delivered the first of four C-130Js to the Royal Norwegian Air Force at a ceremony today with U.S. and Norwegian officials at the company's Marietta, Ga, facility.

"As the first C-130J order under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, the Norway contract marks an important milestone for sales of the C-130J internationally," said Ross Reynolds, vice president of C-130 programs for Lockheed Martin. "Norway joins the growing list of countries that are realizing the flexibility of the Super Hercules and the benefits it brings to a nation's overall airlift capability. With the arrival of its new C-130J aircraft, the Royal Norwegian Air Force will have one of the most advanced cargo fleets in the world."

Other nations that are operating or have ordered the C-130J include Australia, Canada, Denmark, India, Italy, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United States. A second ceremony will occur in Norway when the aircraft flies there at the end of the month.

The Norwegian Super Hercules are the longer fuselage, or "stretched," variant of the C-130J similar to those being delivered to the U.S. Air Force. Future C-130J deliveries to Norway will include one in 2009 and two in 2010.

"C-130Js provide greater availability, flexibility and reliability than other airlifters," said Reynolds. "Currently they are deployed in two combat theaters and are operating at a very high tempo, efficiently and reliably." In non-combat environments, the C-130Js are used in humanitarian relief efforts such as those following Hurricane Katrina, Thailand's tsunami and Myanmar's typhoon. The worldwide fleet of C-130Js has flown nearly half a million flight hours, with some C-130J operators flying as much as 1,000 hours per month.

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'U.S. News & World Report' Names Kaiser Permanente Top-Ranked Health Plan in Georgia

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kaiser Permanente of Georgia has been ranked among the top 30 health plans in the nation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and U.S. News & World Report in their annual survey of commercial health care plans.

Selected as one of "America's Best Health Plans," Kaiser Permanente ranked #27 of 239 plans nationally, up 26 places from last year, and is the top ranked plan in Georgia for the fourth straight year.

The magazine's November 17-24 issue, on newsstands Nov. 10, 2008, also ranked Kaiser Permanente's Medicare plan 37th out of 150 plans -- making it the top Medicare plan in the state for 2008 and one of the top 40 Medicare plans in the nation.

In addition to maintaining its NCQA Excellent Accreditation status, Kaiser Permanente's performance in several other key areas also contributed to its high rankings:

-- Member Satisfaction
-- Cardiovascular Disease, Respiratory Health and Cancer Screenings
-- Child and Maternal Health

Peter Andruszkiewicz, president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc., said these areas -- as well as many others -- have been enhanced in recent years with the addition of KP HealthConnect, Kaiser Permanente's state-of-the-art electronic medical record system.

"KP HealthConnect helps our doctors deliver the best care to our members. It has proven to be an integral part of improving patient safety, coordinating care and decision-making, enhancing documentation, adhering to evidence-based clinical guidelines and improving provider and operational efficiency," Andruszkiewicz said.

"Having KP HealthConnect allows our members to send and receive secure messages from their doctor over the Internet, refill prescriptions, make appointments and use dozens of programs and resources to help them stay healthy," he added.

The basis for the rankings is data collected, analyzed and converted to scores from zero to 100 by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), managed care's major accrediting body. The three reporting categories include consumer experience, prevention and treatment. Kaiser Permanente of Georgia's score of 86.7 gave it the highest score of any plan in Georgia.

Kaiser Permanente is the state's largest nonprofit health plan, serving the health care needs of Atlanta metro area residents for more than 23 years. The health plan currently provides comprehensive health care services to more than 270,000 members through 15 medical facilities in a 28-county service area and a network of affiliated hospitals and physicians.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Silverton Bank a Finalist for Georgia Technology Award

Silverton Bank, a leading national correspondent bank based in Atlanta, was recently honored as a finalist in the Mid-Sized Company category at the fourth annual Excalibur Awards, presented by the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG). Silverton Bank was nominated by Abel Technologies for their TBBConnect product, an innovative Web-based communications solution and the main transaction processing system for over 600 community financial institutions nationwide.

Silverton Bank’s proprietary TBBConnect product offers financial organizations a highly secure system for managing their account information and conducting financial transactions such as ACH originations, FRB services, domestic wire transfers, and OFAC / SDN scanning, as well as international services, including funds transfers and foreign drafts.

“I was deeply impressed by the range and quality of the companies represented in the ceremonies,” said Earl Howell, Silverton Bank’s chief operating officer. “Getting into the finalist group is exceptional recognition of our technology, our staff and the business partners that make up Silverton Bank.”

Established in 2005, the Excalibur Awards were founded by TAG to recognize Georgia’s “tech-enabled” companies who demonstrate exceptional competency in utilizing technology to enhance their business. Nominees were judged on a variety of criteria, including the complexity of the problem, creativity of the solution, the return on investment and business results. TAG is a non-profit organization made up of over 6,000 members representing technology leaders from over 1,500 Georgia-based companies.
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Circuit City Stores, Inc. to Reorganize Under Chapter 11

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Circuit City Stores, Inc. (NYSE:CC) today announced that it has filed a voluntary petition for reorganization relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ("Bankruptcy Court") in Richmond, Va. The company plans to continue operating the business without interruption as management focuses on developing and executing a comprehensive corporate restructuring plan. Circuit City's Canadian operations also will be seeking protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act in Canada ("CCAA").

In conjunction with the filing, Circuit City is seeking customary authority from the Bankruptcy Court that will enable it to continue operating its business and serving its customers in the ordinary course. The requested approvals include requests for the authority to make wage and salary payments and continue various benefits for employees as well as honor customer programs such as returns, exchanges and gift cards. In addition, Circuit City has negotiated a commitment for a $1.1 billion debtor-in-possession (DIP) revolving credit facility to supplement its working capital. The DIP facility replaces the company's $1.3 billion asset-based credit facility and is being provided by the same lenders. The facility provides additional immediate liquidity while the company works to reorganize the business and will permit the company to pay vendors and other business partners for goods and services received after the filing.

Circuit City recently announced that it was taking certain actions to address the company's financial condition and deteriorating liquidity position. Despite aggressive efforts to secure vendor support, vendor concerns about the company's liquidity and ability to pay for its purchases in this difficult economic climate have escalated considerably since the company provided a liquidity update on November 3, 2008, further impairing the company's ability to conduct business and provide service to its customers. Faced with the need to secure ongoing vendor support and to ensure adequate merchandise flow to stores during the important holiday season, the company has determined that it would be in the best interest of its stakeholders to file for reorganization relief under Chapter 11. Operating under the protection of Chapter 11 will provide the company's vendors with assurances that they will be paid for merchandise the company receives post-filing so the company can be sufficiently stocked for the holiday selling season. Further, the company intends to create a restructuring plan that should allow Circuit City to emerge as a stronger business with an improved national distribution channel for its vendors and a more compelling offering for its customers.

The company recognizes that, to achieve these objectives, there is a critical need to create a more efficient chain with a streamlined cost structure. As previously announced, the company is in the process of closing 155 domestic segment stores. This week, the company took action to realign its regional and district support structure commensurate with the smaller store base, which will include approximately 566 stores when the domestic segment store closings are completed. As a further cost-saving measure, the company reduced its corporate headquarters workforce on November 7, 2008. These corporate, regional and district support reductions totaled approximately 700 positions and are in addition to the reductions resulting from the store closings. The store closings and support workforce reductions will result in a combined domestic workforce and store base reduction of approximately 20 percent.

Under the protection of Chapter 11, the company plans to build on these recent restructuring initiatives. Through the additional flexibility that the bankruptcy process provides the company to restructure its operations, the company will continue its real estate rationalization by taking immediate steps to reject the leases at its previously closed locations. Further, as part of its restructuring efforts, the company will continue to assess the productivity of all assets, review additional cost-cutting initiatives and explore strategic alternatives to maximize the value of the business.

James A. Marcum, vice chairman and acting president and chief executive officer of Circuit City Stores, Inc., said, "We recently have taken intensive measures to overcome our deteriorating liquidity position. The decision to restructure the business through a Chapter 11 filing should provide us with the opportunity to strengthen our balance sheet, create a more efficient expense structure and ultimately position the company to compete more effectively. In the meantime, our stores remain fully operational, and our associates are focused on consistent and successful execution this holiday season and beyond.

"We appreciate the support we have received from our lenders in the midst of such a tight credit market. With this support, we believe we have the opportunity to leverage our market position and the strength of our brand to restore Circuit City to solid financial footing," continued Marcum.

"We understand how difficult the recent announcements have been on everyone at the company, and we recognize the changes personally affect many people. Further, we know there is never a good time for individuals to be impacted by decisions like these, and we deeply regret the effect this has on our associates. I want to thank them for their continued loyalty and dedicated effort as we go forward with the belief that implementing long-term and lasting change to our business will come by satisfying our customers, one at a time," concluded Marcum.

Additional Information

Circuit City Advantage Protection Plans(R) are product warranty and service plans sold by the company on behalf of unrelated third parties who are the primary obligors. As a result, these warranty and service plans are not subject to change as a result of the company's Chapter 11 filing. Likewise, Circuit City co-branded credit cards are offered by Chase Card Services and are not impacted by the company's Chapter 11 filing.

Additional information on today's announcement can be found by visiting the company's investor information home page at and clicking the link for "Breaking News" and at the Claims Agent's Web site at

About Circuit City Stores, Inc.

Circuit City Stores, Inc. (NYSE:CC) is a leading specialty retailer of consumer electronics and related services. At October 31, the domestic segment operated 712 Superstores and 9 outlet stores in 165 U.S. media markets. At September 30, the international segment operated through 770 retail stores and dealer outlets in Canada. Circuit City also operates Web sites at, and

Forward-Looking Statements

Statements made in this release, other than those concerning historical financial information, may be considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and are subject to risks and uncertainties. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements regarding the company's expectations concerning the bankruptcy process, the continuation of day-to-day operations and payments to vendors and employees in the ordinary course. Actual results may differ materially from those included in the forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including, without limitation, the following: (1) the impact of today's announcement on the company's operations; (2) the ability of the company to continue as a going concern; (3) the ability of the company to obtain approval of and operate pursuant to the terms of the DIP facility; (4) the ability of the company to obtain court approval of the company's first day papers and other motions in the Chapter 11 proceeding pursued by it from time to time; (5) the ability of the company to develop, pursue, confirm and consummate one or more plans of reorganization with respect to the Chapter 11 cases; (6) risks associated with third parties seeking and obtaining court approval to terminate or shorten the exclusivity period for the company to propose and confirm one or more plans of reorganization, for the appointment of a Chapter 11 trustee or to convert the cases to Chapter 7 cases; (7) the ability of the company to obtain and maintain normal terms with vendors and service providers; (8) the ability of the company to maintain contracts that are critical to its operations; (9) potential adverse developments with respect to the company's liquidity or results of operations; (10) the ability of the company to fund and execute its business plan; (11) the ability of the company to attract, retain and compensate key executives and associates; (12) the ability of the company to attract and retain customers; (13) any further deterioration in the macroeconomic environment or consumer confidence; (14) the success of the company's store liquidators, and the prices obtained, in selling inventory in the stores that the company is closing; and (15) the company's receipt of the income tax refund from the federal government. Discussion of additional factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from management's projections, forecasts, estimates and expectations is set forth under Management's Discussion and Analysis of Results of Operations and Financial Condition in the Circuit City Stores, Inc. annual report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended February 29, 2008, the quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended August 31, 2008, and in the company's other SEC filings. A copy of the annual report is available on the company's investor information Web site at

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Anheuser-Busch Settles Shareholder Litigation Regarding Pending Merger With InBev

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Anheuser-Busch has announced that it has settled all of the shareholder litigation regarding its pending merger with InBev NV/SA. The settlement is subject to approval by the Delaware Court of Chancery. A copy of the Notice in connection with the settlement, which provides details of the settlement terms and the hearing before the Delaware Court of Chancery, is available on the Company's website at

Based in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch is the leading American brewer, holding a 48.5 percent share of U.S. beer sales. The company brews the world's largest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light. Anheuser-Busch also owns a 50 percent share in Grupo Modelo, Mexico's leading brewer, and a 27 percent share in China brewer Tsingtao, whose namesake beer brand is the country's best- selling premium beer. Anheuser-Busch ranked No. 1 among beverage companies in FORTUNE Magazine's Most Admired U.S. and Global Companies lists in 2008. Anheuser-Busch is one of the largest theme park operators in the United States, is a major manufacturer of aluminum cans and one of the world's largest recyclers of aluminum cans. For more information, visit

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Rinnai Appoints General Manager of Rinnai America Operations

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Rinnai Corporation, the world’s largest gas appliance manufacturer and leading tankless water heater manufacturer, has announced the appointment of Phil Weeks as general manager of its North American operations, effective October 13. In this newly created position, Weeks will oversee the company’s sales, marketing and operations functions in the United States and Canada.

“Phil was the driving force behind the Jacuzzi brand becoming one of the most recognized in its category,” said Rinnai America President Yuzo Yoshida. “His deep experience in strategy, operations and sales, as well as his familiarity with our distribution channels, will be invaluable to us. We are confident that under his leadership, Rinnai will transform the way America heats water.”

Weeks demonstrated his ability to build a category-leading business with outstanding brand awareness during his 27-year career at Jacuzzi Whirlpooth Bath, the largest manufacturer of whirlpool baths in North America. Weeks joined Jacuzzi in 1975 as a district sales representative and rose through the sales management ranks to become vice president of sales and marketing and later president. In his capacity as president, Weeks was instrumental in establishing Jacuzzi as the exclusive whirlpool bath brand carried by major home improvement retailers, which led to the doubling of Jacuzzi’s sales over a three-year period. In addition, Weeks expanded the company’s manufacturing operations and implemented processes that increased operating efficiencies and overall profitability.

In his role as vice president of sales and marketing, Weeks expanded the company’s distribution channels beyond wholesale and created a multi-channel business strategy that garnered Jacuzzi more than 40 percent market share. He also developed and implemented strategies for expansion into new markets including Mexico and Asia.

Weeks left Jacuzzi in 2003 and created Zenith Enterprise where, with Clarke Products, he developed private label products for major wholesale plumbing companies. In 2005, Weeks was recruited back to his post as president of Jacuzzi and returned the company to profitability after three years of operating losses and declining margins.

“Rinnai has a winning combination of outstanding products, a highly driven team and excellent channels to market,” said Weeks. “I'm excited to be part of the next chapter in this company’s success story.”

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Atlanta-based Women's Group Announces Partnership with Women For Hire

24-7 -- The Joy of Connecting, a national non-membership organization headquartered in Atlanta announces a new partnership with the Women For Hire network.

Bonnie Ross-Parker, CEO and founder of The Joy of Connecting shares her excitement about this partnership, "I'm proud Women For Hire acknowledges our organization as one they endorse for women in business. We are here to empower women by providing opportunities to help them grow their businesses. This partnership gives our supporters the necessary tools they need to help them along their journey to career success."

At a time when corporations are laying off and cutting budgets, organizations such as The Joy of Connecting and Women For Hire are serving as anchors to help women with their 'Plan B' and 'Exit Strategies'. Women For Hire is the nation's only producer of high caliber career services expos connecting professional women with leading employers. "Women For Hire is invested in fostering partnerships with organizations that are equally dedicated to promoting women's career advancement and development. We are proud to work with Bonnie and The Joy of Connecting as well as other professional organizations and diversity networks throughout the country as they work to empower and inspire women to provide for themselves and their families," says Michelle Atkins, Marketing Coordinator for Women For Hire.

This partnership benefits supporters of The Joy of Connecting by providing career advancement resources and events available which are exclusive to JOC Licensees. It also allows premium membership to Women For Hire Career Network. These member benefits allow women to make new contacts with other professionals with shared interests and stay in touch with existing contacts as well as allow access to ask career questions to Tory Johnson, CEO and Founder of Women For Hire, directly.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Appliance Recycling Centers of America (ARCA) Announces Plans to Open the Sixth ApplianceSmart Factory Outlet in Atlanta Market

Appliance Recycling Centers of America (ARCA) Announces Plans to Open the Sixth ApplianceSmart Factory Outlet in Atlanta Market and Twentieth Outlet Nationally

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Appliance Recycling Centers of America, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARCI) today announced that it will open a 24,920 square-foot ApplianceSmart Factory Outlet in Conyers, Ga., in January 2009 to serve the southeastern suburbs of the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Located at 1380 Dogwood Drive, S.E., the outlet is part of the Conyers Plaza I Shopping Center. The new factory outlet will be ApplianceSmart's sixth location in the Atlanta market and twentieth outlet nationally. The five other Atlanta outlets are located in Norcross, Smyrna, Lithia Springs and Stockbridge. ARCA previously announced that its fifth retail outlet will be located in Marietta.

Like all ApplianceSmart Factory Outlets, this new location will carry a wide range of special-buy major household appliance brands, including Whirlpool, Maytag, GE, Frigidaire, Jenn-Air, Amana, Bosch and KitchenAid. Special-buy appliances, which ApplianceSmart sells at a significant discount to retail, include new in-the-box closeouts, factory overruns, discontinued models and thousands of discounted out-of-box items.

Edward R. (Jack) Cameron, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented: "Atlanta is a great market for our concept. As we said in our recent announcement about the upcoming new retail outlet in Marietta, we believe there are various strategic locations in the Greater Atlanta market where we can continue to backfill. Our new factory outlet will be in a prime location with dense traffic patterns, wonderful visibility to commuters and shoppers, and a national competitor next door. By adding this outlet, not only will we increase our market penetration, we will also have greater economies of scale in our overall advertising spend and overhead expenses for the Atlanta market."

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Circuit City Stores, Inc. Provides Update on Liquidity and Announces Store Closing Plan

BB Note: 19 Circuit City Stores are slated for closing due to the economy. Store locations include several around the metro Atlanta area.

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Circuit City Stores, Inc. (NYSE:CC) today provided an update on its liquidity position and its previously announced ongoing comprehensive business review. Due in part to its deteriorating liquidity position and the continued weak macroeconomic environment, the company has decided to take certain restructuring actions immediately, including closing 155 domestic segment stores, reducing future store openings and aggressively renegotiating certain leases. The company also is considering all available options and alternatives to restructure its business.

Business and Liquidity Update

Over the past several weeks, a number of factors have impacted severely the company's liquidity position. These factors include the following:

-- Waning consumer confidence and a significantly weakened retail environment have impacted negatively the company's sales and gross profit margin rate to a greater degree than management had anticipated previously.

-- Following the company's second quarter results announcement, the company's liquidity position and the sharply worsened overall economic environment led some of Circuit City's vendors to take restrictive actions with respect to payment terms and the credit they make available to the company. Additionally, the recent disruption in the financial markets has contributed to certain of the company's vendors experiencing insurmountable challenges with obtaining credit insurance for the company's purchases. As a result of this and other considerations, certain of the company's vendors have set more restrictive payment terms than in previous quarters, including in some cases requiring payment before shipment. Vendors also have limited the credit available to the company for purchases, including in some cases not providing customary increases in credit lines for holiday purchases. While management is working diligently to secure the support of its vendors and believes it has maintained good relationships with these important partners, the current mix of terms and credit availability is becoming unmanageable for the company.

-- To date, the company has been unable to collect an income tax refund of approximately $80 million that the company believes it is owed from the federal government.

-- Due primarily to the weakened economic environment and its potential impact on the timing of sales of the company's inventory and costs and expenses associated with such sales, a recent third-party appraisal conducted for the company's asset-based credit facility resulted in a reduction of the estimated net orderly liquidation value of the company's inventory. This valuation adjustment was made despite the mix of merchandise remaining consistent with the previous appraisal in November 2007. This reduction has led to a lower borrowing base and reduced availability for the current period compared with what the company had expected previously.

James A. Marcum, vice chairman and acting president and chief executive officer of Circuit City Stores, Inc. said, "Since late September, unprecedented events have occurred in the financial and consumer markets causing macroeconomic trends to worsen sharply. The weakened environment has resulted in a slowdown of consumer spending, further impacting our business as well as the business of our vendors. The combination of these trends has strained severely our working capital and liquidity, and so we are making a number of difficult, but necessary, decisions to address the company's financial situation as quickly as possible."

Domestic Segment Real Estate Actions

As a result of the company's ongoing asset productivity assessment and working capital situation, the company has determined to take the following initial actions with respect to its domestic segment real estate portfolio and strategy:

-- Close 155 stores and exit certain markets: Circuit City plans to close 155 stores that are underperforming or are no longer a strategic fit for the company. The stores identified for closure are located in 55 U.S. media markets, of which Circuit City will exit 12 U.S. media markets.

The list of closing stores can be found by visiting the company's investor information home page at and clicking the link regarding today's announcements. The company expects that impacted stores will not open on Tuesday, November 4, and the store closing sales will begin on Wednesday, November 5. The company expects the sales to be completed no later than calendar year end.

For fiscal 2008, the stores that are being closed generated in total approximately $1.4 billion in net sales. When results were viewed at the individual comparable store level, the closing stores, as compared to the stores remaining open, on average had lower net sales, a lower close rate and a lower gross profit margin rate. The stores, on average, were also unprofitable when marketing expenses were allocated to the individual store-level results.

Circuit City will continue to honor its customer commitments and serve its guests through 566 stores in 153 U.S. media markets, via its Web site at and via phone at 1-800-THE-CITY (1-800-843-2489). During this transitional period, Circuit City is executing a plan to minimize disruption to the operations of stores that are remaining open. No international segment stores are closing as a result of the real estate plans announced today.

-- Further reduce new store openings: The company has revised its store opening plans for the current fiscal year and will not open at least 10 locations that were previously expected to be opened. The company still expects to open up to two incremental stores during the remainder of fiscal 2009. As previously announced, other than existing commitments, management intends to suspend store openings beginning in fiscal 2010.

-- Renegotiate certain existing leases: Circuit City intends to begin immediately renegotiating certain of its existing leases with the goal of significantly lowering rents. In some cases, the company may choose to negotiate with landlords to exit leases if rents are not reduced. The company also plans to work with landlords to terminate the leases for the stores included in today's closing announcement, as well as leases for a number of inactive locations that were closed previously and for the locations that are no longer being opened.

As a result of the store closures, Circuit City expects to reduce store operating, payroll and marketing expenses. The store closures will result in a reduction of approximately 17 percent of the domestic segment workforce. The company also expects to incur charges in fiscal 2009 associated with the above real estate actions. The company is currently evaluating the benefits and expenses associated with these changes, which are subject to the outcome of negotiations and store closure agreements. Presentation on the financial statements is currently being evaluated for accounting treatment.

"We deeply regret the impact today's announcement will have on our associates, our guests and the communities where these stores are located. We truly are grateful to each of our associates for their many contributions to the company. We are also grateful for the loyalty and support we have received from our guests in the impacted communities. Circuit City will continue to serve guests through 566 stores in 153 U.S. media markets, via its Web site at and via phone at 1-800-THE-CITY (1-800-843-2489)," concluded Marcum.

Evaluating All Options

As a result of unfavorable macroeconomic conditions and the company's deteriorating liquidity position, the company is considering all available options and alternatives for the business. Consistent with this evaluation, the company will continue to take appropriate actions to conserve cash, reduce expenses and improve liquidity. In addition, the company is continuing to evaluate additional near-term cost reduction initiatives that may be necessary to address its financial condition. The company is also in negotiations with its lenders and other third parties regarding various financing alternatives.

The company plans to operate its business without interruption while it engages in discussions with its lenders and works with advisors to determine the most appropriate restructuring alternatives. The company can make no assurance that the discussions will result in any agreements or transactions.

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Logility Named a Top 10 Fastest Growing Company by Atlanta Business Magazine

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Logility, Inc. (NASDAQ:LGTY) , a leading supplier of collaborative solutions to optimize the supply chain, announced today that it has been recognized as one of the "Top 10 Fastest Growing Companies in Atlanta" by Atlanta Business Magazine.

Atlanta Business Magazine announced its list of Top 10 Fastest Growing Companies at a recent awards dinner that was held at the Atlanta History Center. Mike Edenfield, president and CEO of Logility, accepted the award on Logility's behalf. To be considered for the award nominees had to meet specific criteria that included being headquartered in Atlanta, having a minimum of $5 million in revenue and positive revenue growth for the past three years. The nominations were independently evaluated by the CPA firm of Gifford, Hillegass and Ingwersen. Logility has experienced steady revenue growth during the three years evaluated for the award and in Fiscal Year 2008 reported total revenue of $44.9 million.

"It is an honor to be recognized as one of Atlanta's Fastest Growing Companies," said Mike Edenfield, president and CEO, Logility. "To achieve this recognition is a reflection of the value that Logility brings to our more than 1,250 customers who as a result of our two brands, Logility Voyager Solutions(TM) and Demand Solutions(R), have optimized their supply chains to reduce costs and build a foundation for profitable growth."

Logility was also recognized in 2008 as one of America's Fastest-Growing Small Public Companies by Fortune Small Business magazine for the second consecutive year. For more information about Logility, visit .

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

TSYS to Expand Global Payment Capabilities with Acquisition of Infonox

(BUSINESS WIRE)--TSYS announced today that it will acquire Infonox, a privately owned California-based technology firm with payments expertise, leading-edge technology and a focused methodology to deliver rapid-to-market solutions. The acquisition is expected to be completed the week of November 3, 2008.

This acquisition will add valuable new payment technology and acceptance capabilities that elevate TSYS in its mission to move any payment form, through any payment device, anywhere in the world, over any network.

The company will be known as Infonox, a TSYS company. Its “plug-and-play” platforms simplify the acceptance of payment forms to include, but not limited to: debit, credit, prepaid, money transfer and checks; it also offers new connectivity interfaces to multiple payment devices and new channels of service delivery such as mobile phones, ATMs and bill-pay kiosks.

Infonox also provides a proprietary end-to-end tool to manage the lifecycle of a merchant so businesses can better engage, serve and retain their customers.

“TSYS’ acquisition of Infonox will add a Silicon-valley innovation team to our arsenal,” said Philip W. Tomlinson, chief executive officer of TSYS. “It provides a host of tools and services that will be very attractive to clients of TSYS Acquiring Solutions and technologies we believe will add increased value to our clients across the TSYS enterprise.”

“This is much more than just an acquisition,” said Dr. Safwan Shah, president and chief executive officer of Infonox. “The synergy Infonox has achieved through the partnership with TSYS presents us with a tremendous opportunity to grow our business and take our products and services to new levels of penetration.”

Dr. Shah will remain with Infonox as president, reporting to Robert J. Philbin, president of TSYS Acquiring Solutions.

“Infonox provides a comprehensive suite of services to manage the lifecycle of a merchant, the lifecycle of a transaction and the lifecycle of a customer. Together we will deliver solutions-on-demand that include a full-range of POS product offerings and payment acceptance forms, more efficient sales and merchant activation tools, enhanced portfolio management, reporting tools and an integrated suite of workflow tools to drive greater back-office efficiency,” said Mr. Philbin.

Infonox offers an array of payment products on self-service and full-service transaction touch points in the gaming, banking and retail markets. The company delivers, manages, operates and supports services for several large publicly traded companies.


* Infonox software platform is used for managing a merchant portfolio from sales to profitability. Thousands of merchants and acquirers get up-to-the-second information on their business.
* Infonox software platform is used to process checks (personal, payroll), intercept and switch ATMs, conduct debit and credit transactions, process instant loans, facilitate bill payments, carry out money transfers, issue and dispense prepaid cards, and more.
* Infonox technology enables connection to any back end processor and payment brands or networks.

Established in 1999, Infonox is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., with an additional office in Pune, India.

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