"The company believes ... its existing common stock will have little or no value."

-- From a Dec. 17 press release from Maryland nursing home company Integrated Health Services Inc., its first official recognition that when it's done restructuring its $3 billion-plus debt, shareholders will be left with nothing. The company's stock had traded as high as $39 in April 1998.

Horsepower in Dallas

Few company logos have had as much affection showered upon them as has Mobil Corp.'s Pegasus symbol in Dallas.

Of course, Fairfax-based Mobil is gone, now a part of Exxon Mobil Corp. And the company hasn't been based in Dallas for a generation. But the Pegasus symbol, first used by long-ago Mobil predecessor, Magnolia Petroleum Co. of Dallas, has been more or less adopted by the Texas metropolis.

In 1934, Magnolia Petroleum unveiled a 50-foot-high neon Pegasus atop its Magnolia Building, then the tallest building south of Washington, D.C. For more than six decades, the winged stallion dominated the Dallas skyline. The sign was donated to the city by Mobil in 1974 -- the same year it stopped rotating, due to old age and creeping rust.

By 1995, it had become clear the neon sign's days were numbered. Two years ago, horse de combat, it was shut off and, last July, finally taken down and dismantled.

But a private campaign to raise $600,000 for a replacement Pegasus will culminate New Year's Eve, when a newly built sign atop what is now the Magnolia Hotel will be lit. Mobil ponied up (forgive us) $100,000 to help build the duplicate.

"Pegasus stands for renewed hope and imagination," Gail Thomas, who led the restoration effort, told the Associated Press last week. "We could not bear to have the lights of Pegasus out very long."

-- Terence O'Hara (oharat@washpost.com)

Merger Signals

Arlington-based Telebanc Financial Corp.'s planned merger with E-Trade Group Inc. appeared to be back on track last week after getting temporarily gummed up in the bank regulatory process.

Online banking services provider Telebanc, a federally chartered savings bank regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), had to get the agency's permission to be bought by E-Trade.

Problem: E-Trade's biggest shareholder is Japan-based Softbank Corp. Softbank doesn't want to be regulated as a thrift holding company, but the OTS believed it should be by virtue of its 27 percent ownership of E-Trade.

Last week, however, the OTS signaled that some kind of deal had been reached when it announced it had enough information to make a ruling on the $1.8 billion merger -- usually considered a prelude to approval.

Telebanc stock spiked last Monday on the news, but by Wednesday it had fallen back to where it started the week.

-- T.O.


The number of new jobs created by Dulles-based America Online Inc. in the last two years, an increase of 72 percent.

That's according to Fortune magazine's recent rating of the 100 best companies to work for. America Online comes in at No. 51, the highest spot of any Washington area company, knocking Marriott International Inc. off its long-held perch as Fortune's top-rated Washington area employer.

Marriott dropped to No. 70. The five other regional companies on the list, including AOL, were all newcomers, and with one exception are technology-related firms. The other four: SRA International Inc. in Fairfax, American Management Systems Inc. in Fairfax, MicroStrategy Inc. in Vienna and Capital One Financial Corp. in Falls Church.

The biggest factors in making the list: employee ownership, generous training programs and work-time flexibility.

By the way, the number of new jobs created by AOL pales in comparison to the number of applications it received during the same period: 81,083.

-- T.O.