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The Palm Beach Post PAGE 5B MORE DIAMONDS Four area resorts and four area restaurants get the AAA's second-highest award. STORY, 11B Codes for 24-hour financial updates Page 10B 5DD j It TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1997 B In brief Jury selection begins in federal bribery trial of Coca-Cola managers Report of slowdown pulls Dow past 8,000 t A vs n i I n-L M 1 REUTER From Palm Beach Post staff, iThe Associated Press, Bloomberg News and Reuter f ' -" ATLANTA Jury selection began Monday for the federal trial of two Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. executives 'accused of bribing a delivery truck driv-'et to lobby co-workers to vote against a 'union organizing effort. Coca-Cola Enterprises managers Jimmy Wardlaw and Eric Turpin are accused of paying driver Jeffrey Wright -$10,000 and promising him a promotion to persuade his co-workers not to vote .for representation by the Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers International Union. Attorneys representing Wardlaw 'arid Turpin contend they were framed "by union activists who were angry that the organization drive was narrowly defeated in August 1994. First Union acquires Signet CHARLOTTE, N.C. First Union .Corp. (NYSE: FTU: $49.63) said Monday it completed its $3.25 billion acquisition of Signet Banking Corp., boosting assets to $155 billion. The bank said it plans to cut up to 1,700 jobs due to the purchase of Richmond-based Signet First Union is the nation's sixth largest bank by assets. 'USA' label won't be diluted. i- WASHINGTON The Federal Trade Commission, bowing to pressure from labor unions and consumer groups, abandoned a plan that would have made it easier for U.S. companies to tout their products as "Made in the USA" The U.S. consumer protection agency Monday said it will keep strict rules that permit made-in-America marketing claims only for products constructed almost entirely with American parts and labor. The FTC voted 4-0 in favor of keeping the old standard. , CBS parent moves to Big Apple NEW YORK Westinghouse Electric Corp. became CBS Corp. and rhoved its headquarters to New York City, part of the 111-year-old company's transformation into a media and entertainment business from a Pittsburgh industrial giant. The company, founded as Things were looking up Monday on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. A manufacturing report signaled the economy is still expanding but not at a too rapid clip, which could fuel inflation and spur higher interest rates The Associated Press NEW YORK Growth in the manufacturing sector slowed last month in a report Wall Street cheered by sending the Dow Jones industrial average soaring Monday to close above the 8,000 mark for the first time in six weeks. A calming of the Asian financial turmoil also heartened investors. "It was almost perfect news for the stock market," said David Wyss, chief financial economist at Standard & Poor's DRI in Lexington, Mass. The National Association of Purchasing Management reported Monday that its closely watched index of business activity slipped to 54.4 percent in November from a surprisingly strong 56.0 percent in October. The measure, usually the first indicator of economic behavior in the month that just ended, signaled the economy is still expanding but not at a too rapid cbp, which could fuel inflation and spur the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. Analysts said the purchasing manager's report, which also tracks raw material prices, suggested the financial turmoil in Asia may dampen economic growth and inflationary pressures in the United States. "It clearly shows that the economy is cooling," said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at Nor west Corp. in Minneapolis. The Asian currency meltdown has contributed to the slowdown." Wall Street greeted the report with exuberance. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 189.98 to close at 8,013.11. The gain was attributed not only to the purchasing managers' report but also to a rebound in some Asian markets overnight. "I would characterize it as an Asian relief rally," said Edward Yardeni, chief economist at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell in New York. "We're all relieved the Asian nations are getting some relief in the form of bailout programs" fashioned by the International Monetary Fund. Economic trends The Dow Jones industrial average soared nearly 200 points Monday ever. Investors were encouraged by economic reports, including one among the nation's manufacturers. in its fourth-biggest point gain that pointed to slower growth Minute-by-minute Dow Jones industrial average Monthly Construction Spending In billions of dollars seasonally adjusted . . . . I Manager's index Purchasing The purchasing managers' Index . tracks overall business activity of more than 300 industrial companies. 610 j . 8120 : : j i- 8080 ( j 8040 .idr 8000 JA 7960 A 7920 J i 7880 .. J .. '. - . .., 7840 ; ! ! i t . , I - . . 7800 65 iifijjj g 50 !45 f. 40 ' 590 570 '550 530 'J 510 Change from previous montn Oct. 0.1 Sept. 0.4 Aug. 0.0 mm 10:00 . 12:00 2:00 4:00 NOJFMAMJASO 1996 1997 JFMAMJJASON 1997 SOURCE: Bloomberg News SOURCE: National Association of Purchasing SOURCE: Department of Commerce I a maKer oi air Drakes ior trains, iook on I the name of the TV network it bought UNA LAWSONStaff Artist HeaseseeECOHOmUB two years ago for $5.4 billion. The com-l pany's shares (NYSE: CBS) rose 63 I cents to $30.50 in trading of 2.7 million. Midwest bank expands base Minority business center exec changes helms ' Com. moved to strengthen its Midwest Palm Beach County commissioners, who agreed to pay up to $28,000 to cover expenses. When the grant finally did arrive, new rules came with it. Among them was a requirement that the center raise an additional $112,000 on its own. But Murray said she left the center to take on a new challenge, and not because of the center's money problems. "I went for six months without a salary. I was committed to the project. If my commitment waned, it would have (waned) then," she said. signed in October but has continued to help the center's chairman, John Howard, to run it until a successor can be found. The new agency is part of Leadership Palm Beach CQunty Inc., a business leadership-training organization, and is financed through donations from business and nonprofit groups. In her new role, she will look for nonprofit board candidates and for boards that need new. members from different ethnic, economic and gender groups. Before leaving her old job for good, she wanted to finish the center's application to the U.S. Department of Commerce for a $169,000 grant to finance its operations. The center, which helps minorities start or expand businesses, nearly closed late last year because the grant had lapsed. It is only one of two left in the state. Other centers . in Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville have closed. At the time, Murray appealed to By Stephen Pounds Palm Beach Post Staff Writer RIVIERA BEACH Minority business advocate Rosalind Murray has left the Minority Business Development Center in Riviera Beach to become executive director of Board Marketplace, an agency that will help nonprofit boards to diversify, she said Monday. Murray, 38, director of the center since 1994 and an unsuccessful candidate for the Palm Beach County School Board last year, re v 1 Rosalind Murray will assist boards of Wind pool ratdes cages on rates BOCA RATON banking presence by agreeing Monday to acquire First of America Bank Corp. for stock valued at about $6.6 billion. The deal will create the nation's 13th-largest banking company in terms of assets, combining National City's $53 billion with First of America's $22 billion. First of America shares surged 24 percent on the news, gaining $14 to $72.75 -on the New York Stock Exchange. National City shares slipped $3.94, or 6 percent, to $62.81. "Republic to buy Miami bank i WEST PALM BEACH Republic Security Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: RSFC: $10), a West Palm Beach-,,based holding company and parent to Republic Security Bank, announced . Monday that its shareholders voted to "approve the acquisition of the Miami-..based County Financial Corporation, parent company of County National Bank. In a transaction valued at approximately $56 million, County Financial shareholders received 4.807 shares of ; Republic stock per share of County. i Ex-broker admits insider deals ?, ; NEW YORK A former GKN Secu-v rities broker admitted in court to using ,'irisider information to buy securities, "and agreed to help prosecutors in their ' case against a former Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, Discover & Co. compliance aide and others. Howard Boyar I pleaded guilty Monday in New York " State Supreme Court to one count of criminal possession of stolen property, ' the Manhattan district attorney's office ' said. Boyar faces up to as much as 15 years in prison. His attorney wasn't im-' mediately available for comment. Prosecutors charged 34-year-old Boyar last 'month in an insider-trading plot involving another broker, a self-employed trader, and Marisa Baridis, a former Morgan Stanley compliance aide. Clint Moore Rd. SK fomato Rd. . .---.-X.. Arvida Park tl2 mMeJ pay out claims after a hurricane. The pool also says that its premiums are unfairly distributed and need to be adjusted. "The rest of the state, if we had a hurricane, would be subsidizing Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties," said pool spokesperson Holly Far-son. "There are people who have the wealth to live on the coast, and they're being subsidized by people who can't afford to Uve on the coast." Any rate increase granted by state regulators would be phased in over three years and would apply to residential policies only. rate-hike request to the Department of Insurance, addressing concerns raised by the agency in its 16-point denial. The wind pool estimates that it could still raise its rates by 45 percent on average if it meets objections raised by regulators. The 62.4 percent rate increase would raise average rates in Palm Beach County by 73.6 percent, while decreasing rates in St. Lucie County by 43.5 percent. The pool, which insures nearly 407,000 Floridians against wind and hail damage, says it needs the rate increase to be financially prepared to By John Murawski Palm Beach Post Staff Writer The Florida windstorm pool will ask an arbitration board to decide whether it can raise insurance rates by an average of 62.4 percent statewide. The Florida Windstorm Underwriting Association's board of directors voted Monday to seek a binding ruling from the American Arbitration Association in its dispute with state regulators. The Department of Insurance rejected the rate-hike request two weeks ag0- , , , At the same time, the wind pool will also submit a revised UNA LWASONStaff Artist AGES set to expand in Arvida The private firm, which employs more than 350, will retain its 105,000-square-foot headquarters nearby. By Sanjay Bhatt Palm Beach Post Staff Writer BOCA RATON The AGES Group wants to build an office-and-research tower in the Arvida Park of Commerce, company officials said Monday. The international aircraft engine and parts supplier will have its plans reviewed next Tuesday for compliance with code requirements, but the company does not expect to break ground until March, said Jonathan Moore, whose Smith & Moore Architects in West Palm Beach is designing the building. The AGES Group, a private company that employs more than 350 in the Arvida Park, plans to retain its headquarters in an adjacent 105,000 square-foot building. This is just to take some of the overload from that building," Moore said. They're packed in the other building." 5 here accused in Florida fraud sting The new building will consist of a three-story office section and a single-story research section, Moore said. Patrick Fuina, vice president of operations in Boca Raton, said that AGES, named after its AirGround Equipment Sales division, will occupy the entire space. The Boca Raton-based company supplies aircraft engine parts, and sells and leases jet engines. The proposed building could leave the Arvida Park of Commerce with less than 1 million square feet of office space that can be built, said Ken Silberling, a partner at Commercial Florida Realty Partners Inc. in Boca Raton. The sites with some of the largest expansion areas available, he said, are MBNA's property, Yamato Office Center for which his firm is the leasing tigent - and the Colonnade. Dow: week by week 8200 1 employees to avoid paying $800,000 in workers compensation premiums for two of their Palm Beach Gardens-based employee leasing companies: Labor One Inc. and A Plus Staffing. Also arrested were Fort Pierce citrus company owner Vernon Dixon, 48, of Port St. Lucie and the company's bookkeeper, Barbara A Hall, 27, of Fort Pierce. State investigators said the pair defrauded insurers of $3.6 million by under-reporting payroll and juggling insurance filings among several fictitious companies, the latest titled Vernle Inc. Investigators also have a warrant for the arrest of Dixon's son, Levie, an officer of Vernle. The statewide sting was organized by the Flori- i 1 1 z i 1 1 n The executives tried to cheat the workers compensation system of $4.4 million, the state says. By Kris Hudson Palm Beach Post Staff Writer State investigators on Monday arrested three executives of a Fort Pierce citrus company and two executives of Palm Beach Gardens staffing companies in a statewide insurance sting involving $4.4 million in alleged fraud. Among those arrested Monday morning were Toby Robert Lewis, 54, of Palm Beach Gardens and Rene Seal-Lange, 43, of West Palm Beach. State investigators allege that both urkler-reported payroll and wrongly classified 7400 IV 7200 I 9-16 9-30 10-14 10-28 11-11 11-25 9-2 ARREsTsiifi j(i Breads indicate markp holidays.