Businesses looking to open or expand in Maryland will be able to tap a new loan program being offered by the state and Sovran Bank.

Officials said they hope the effort will make loans of at least $1 million available to businesses below the prime rate.

The loans, which will be backed by the state's industrial development financing authority, will then be sold to the public as taxable corporate bonds by Sovran Bank.

Officials say they believe the bonds, which will be subject to federal but not state taxes, will pay about 8 percent interest.

Caterair International Corp. of Washington opened its first kitchen in Australia to provide in-flight catering and aircraft cabin cleaning services to Qantas Airways Ltd. and Air Nuigini.

The company said it estimates that the $5 million, 45,000-square-foot facility, located in Brisbane, will supply more than 500,000 meals annually for the two airlines. Caterair plans to open a second Australian kitchen in Cairns, Queensland, in December.

Applied Bioscience International Inc. of East Millston, N.J., completed its acquisition of Environ International Inc. of Arlington in a stock swap that gives the five major Environ stockholders a 34 percent stake in Applied Bioscience.

Environ, which had revenue last year of $21 million, will provide consulting services in support of Applied Bioscience's laboratory work testing the safety of chemical and pharmaceutical products.

Bolan Smart Associates Inc. of Washington, a real estate consulting firm, acquired the assets of Leggat McCall Advisors Inc. of Washington, also a real estate consulting firm, for an undisclosed amount.

Bentley, Barnes & Lynn Inc. of Chicago completed its acquisition of Unger Advertising of Washington for an undisclosed amount.

BioDevelopment Corp., a venture capital firm investing in health-care products, opened in Washington.

Digital Sound Corp. of Carpinteria, Calif., a manufacturer of equipment for electronic information storage and processing, opened an office in Bethesda.

GEC-Marconi Software Systems of Reston, a subsidiary of General Electric Co. of England, began marketing a cable-free computer connection in the United States and Canada.

Phillips Publishing Inc. of Potomac acquired Commuter/Regional Airline News, Airline Financial News and Commuter/Regional Airline News International from Airline Media Associates Inc. of Arlington.

Alston & Bird, an Atlanta-based law firm, opened a Washington office.

Corporate Visions Inc. of Washington opened an office in McLean.

Burson-Marsteller of Washington opened offices in Berlin and Bonn.

Announcements of news and developments affecting Washington area companies should be sent to Regional Report, Business News Department, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.