The Commerce Department's Minority Business Development Agency has awarded the Prince George's County Economic Development Corp. a $600,000 grant to create an organization to serve minority-owned businesses in Northern Virginia, suburban Maryland and the District.

The group, called the Minority Business Opportunity Committee, is to track contracts and loans targeted at minority business owners and help local companies win those contracts.

Independent business consultant Necola Y. Shaw was named executive director of the new organization.


American Capital Strategies of Bethesda, a publicly traded buyout and mezzanine financing firm, said it invested $40 million in the recapitalization of Ace Cash Express, the nation's largest operator of check-cashing outlets. American Capital is investing in senior subordinated notes that will replace a portion of the company's bank debt.

Radio One of Lanham agreed to acquire the outstanding stock of Hawes-Saunders Broadcast Properties, owner and operator of WRNB-FM in the Dayton, Ohio, area, for about $9.5 million in cash. The deal, reached in March, is expected to close during the second quarter. The acquisition increases to five the number of radio stations the company owns and operates in the Dayton market.

PG&E lenders have exercised options to buy 3 percent of the company's struggling power generation and trading unit, Bethesda-based National Energy Group, PG&E said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. General Electric Capital exercised options for 1.8 percent of NEG's common stock on Feb. 25, PG&E said. Other lenders, including Lehman Brothers Holdings, exercised options for the other 1.2 percent on March 27 and 28. The lenders acquired the options in connection with a $1 billion loan they made to PG&E in March 2001, just before the company's utility unit, Pacific Gas & Electric, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a casualty of California's power crisis. Plunging power prices amid a glut of new generation and a collapse of investor confidence after the meltdown of Enron have crippled NEG, which defaulted on commitments to make equity contributions to power-plant projects and agreed to turn over those plants to lenders.


United Dominion Realty Trust is asking shareholders to approve the company's re-incorporation to Maryland from Virginia. In a proxy filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Richmond-based company said Maryland has developed a more comprehensive and clearer body of law and practice related to real estate investment trusts than Virginia, mainly as a result of its having more than 100 publicly traded REITs organized under its laws. United Dominion said this will be more conducive to the company's operations and provide its directors and management with greater certainty and predictability in managing. United Dominion said it won't change its name, headquarters, business, directors or management under the re-incorporation.

US Airways said March passenger traffic dropped 16.3 percent, as bookings suffered from the war in Iraq, prompting the carrier to scale back its April schedule by 5 percent. The Arlington-based airline, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection a week ago, said its load factor, or percentage of seats filled by paying passengers, fell to 73.4 percent from 78 percent a year earlier.

General Dynamics filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell as much as $3 billion in securities. The Falls Church-based defense contractor said it will use the proceeds for general purposes.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.