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NEWS SUMMARY (40695)

Bank BuyF&M National Corp. said it agreed to buy Atlantic Financial Corp. for $70.6 million, or $16.85 a share, to extend its reach into the Tidewater, Va., market. Winchester, Va.-based F&M owns nine banks with 125 branches in Virginia, West ...

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EU Says Microsoft Agrees to Limit Investment in Britain

Microsoft Corp. has agreed to limit its investment in British cable television provider Telewest Communications PLC after the European Commission objected to its original plan to take a controlling stake.<@SM><@SM><TAB>The huge software maker will buy a 23.7 percent stake in Telewest for about $3 billion but no longer plans to take control in partnership with AT&T Corp.

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MIE Strays From Flex to Class A

MIE Properties Inc. will build a 135,000 square-foot four-story office building in Annapolis, straying from its typical flex product, to help loosen the tight office market in Annapolis. <@SM><@SM><TAB>Construction of the Class A office building

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It’s Summer, and Meatpackers Wage War Against Killer E. Coli

Summer is here, and so is E. coli. At this time of the year as many as one of every four cattle being herded into Excel Corp.’s slaughterhouse and others like it may harbor the deadly human pathogen.<@SM><@SM><TAB>Before this plant’s meat reaches consumers, the cattle and their carcasses will be put through a state-of-the-art system of scrubbing, washes, rinses and steam pasteurization designed to remove or destroy the bacteria.

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Gore, Bush Visits to Conferences This Week Put Spotlight on Baltimore

Two national conferences this week will draw the top two presidential candidates and other national leaders to Baltimore, spotlighting a city long in the shadow of neighboring Washington, D.C.<@SM><@SM><TAB>Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush will speak at the 91st annual National Convention of the NAACP, which began yesterday and runs through Thursday.

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Heafner to Buy American Tire Distributors

Heafner Tire Group, Inc. said it will acquire American Tire Distributors, the wholesale operations of Merchants, Inc.<@SM><@SM><TAB>The ATD transaction, which is subject to completion of financing and other items, is expected to close within 20 days. Other terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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Jobs Up — and Banks Too&ne;

The drop in the nation’s unemployment rate for June provides further evidence of a slowing economy and might help banks with higher loan demand if the Federal Reserve abstains from imposing further increases in interest rates, economists say.<@SM><@SM><TAB>The U.S. Department of Labor announced Friday that unemployment fell to 4 percent, down from 4.1 percent in May, but slightly higher than April’s 30-year low of 3.9 percent. Total employment increased by only 11,000, as about 190,000 temporary workers hired to work on the federal decennial census finished their jobs.

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