Business In Brief - October 30, 2007

Bowater completes merger with Abitibi

MONTREAL -- AbitibiBowater completed its previously publicized merger between Abitibi-Consolidated and Bowater, the company announced Monday.

With revenues of approximately $8 billion in 2006, AbitibiBowater is now the third largest publicly traded paper and forest products company in North America and the eighth largest in the world. The company's Catawba operation, one of York County's largest employers, is on the Catawba River in York County. It manufactures coated paper and market pulp.

Beginning Monday, the common stock of AbitibiBowater will trade on the New York Stock Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "ABH." AbitibiBowater is a U.S. reporting company with headquarters and executive offices in Montreal.

Abitibi-Consolidated and Bowater also announced that each company will release their third-quarter 2007 results before the markets open Nov. 6.

Skeen receives lifetime achievement award

FORT MILL -- Betty J. Skeen, manager of the Interstate 77 Fort Mill Welcome Center, has received the first Lifetime Achievement in Tourism award, presented by the Olde English District Tourism Commission.

Skeen, manager of the center since it opened in 1981, was recognized at a luncheon Friday for her promotion of the state and more than 35 years of service to the tourism industry.

In her honor, an award was renamed and is now the Betty Skeen Olde English District Hospitality Employee of the Year Award. The recipient of that award for 2007 is Carolyn West from the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Camden.

The Olde English District is a tourism promotions and marketing organization seeking to increase tourism and visitation in the seven Upstate South Carolina counties of Chester, Chesterfield, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Union and York.

Springs Memorial lands new accreditation

LANCASTER -- Springs Memorial Hospital has been designated an accredited Chest Pain Center by the Society of Chest Pain Centers, the hospital announced recently.

Springs Memorial Hospital is the fifth hospital in South Carolina to receive the accreditation. To receive accreditation, an on-site review was conducted to examine the treatment a patient experiencing chest pain receives. The hospital's community programs also were examined.

For more information on the accreditation or on the Society of Chest Pain Centers, visit

Prudential Carolinas adds three to Rock Hill office

Prudential Carolinas Realty has added Rod Espser, Vicki Ford and Lora Nichols to its Rock Hill office, the company recently announced.

Esper most recently worked as Internet manager/sales for Houma Toyota and prior to that worked in sales for Plymouth Auto. Esper can be reached at (803) 675-7075 or

Prior to joining Prudential, Ford was the owner/publisher of York County Citipass, a fundraising coupon book, and the Rock Hill Quarterly Magazine. She is secretary on the Children's Attention Home board of directors and treasurer on the Children's Attention Home Charter School board of directors. Ford can be reached at (803) 389-8650 or

Nichols formerly worked for Resort Quest Isle of Palms as a property service clerk. Nichols can be reached at (803) 627-0969 or

Verizon earnings reflect growth in wireless

NEW YORK -- Verizon Communications on Monday reported third-quarter earnings that were largely in line with expectations, reflecting steady growth in its wireless operations and a slow decline in its wired telephone business.

The nation's second largest telecommunications company earned $1.27 billion, or 44 cents per share, in the July-September period, down 34 percent from $1.92 billion, or 66 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue came to $23.8 billion in the latest quarter, up 5.8 percent from $22.5 billion a year ago.

Excluding one-time charges, earnings would have been 63 cents per share. That compares with 53 cents per share in the same period last year, excluding the high-margin Yellow Pages business and other operations that have since been sold off.

On that basis, the latest earnings beat the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Financial by a penny a share. Wall Street was expecting revenue of $23.7 billion.

Verizon shares rose 39 cents to $45.99 Monday. The stock has risen steadily from a 52-week low of $33.98 set last November, as investors have gotten over their skepticism of Verizon's $23 billion fiber-optic buildout plan.

GM to build hybrid research center in China

BEIJING -- GM announced Monday that it would build an advanced research center in Shanghai to develop hybrid technology and other advanced designs, in the latest research investment in China by a foreign automaker.

GM already has a 1,300-employee research center in Shanghai with its main Chinese joint venture, the Shanghai Automotive Industry. The separate, wholly owned research center announced Monday for the most advanced vehicle engineering and development could help GM keep greater control over new technologies than conducting the research through the joint venture.