LaSalle Hotel Properties of Bethesda acquired its first Hilton hotel, the Hilton Alexandria Old Town, for $59 million.

The four-year-old, 241-room hotel in downtown Alexandria will continue under its Hilton franchise agreement and continue to be managed by Sandcastle Resorts & Hotels. Sandcastle, based in Destin, Fla., manages six hotels in the Southeast. This is its first contract with LaSalle.

The purchase was funded from LaSalle's senior unsecured credit facility.

LaSalle owns properties with other upmarket brands such as Westin, Sheraton, Marriott, and Hyatt. The real estate investment trust has interests in 19 upscale and luxury hotels totaling 6,400 rooms in 11 states and the District.


ITT Sheraton, ordered by a jury in 1999 to pay $51.5 million to John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance and a unit of Sumitomo for mismanaging a Washington hotel, won a reduction of the award to $3.34 million on appeal. A three-judge panel of a U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia reduced the award after finding errors in the jury instructions and damage calculations, according to an opinion filed last week. Manulife Financial's Boston-based John Hancock unit and Sumitomo jointly owned the 1,352-room hotel, formerly called the Sheraton Washington Hotel. It is managed now by Marriott International and called the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.


Commonwealth Biotechnologies of Richmond said it sold 400,000 shares of common stock and warrants to buy an additional 100,000 shares to several investors at $6.25 a share for a total of $2.5 million. The exercise price of the warrants was set at 110 percent of the stock's closing price on the transaction's closing date. The company will use some of the proceeds to expand its bio-defense capabilities.

Christina Seix resigned from the board of Federal Home Loan Mortgage, a McLean mortgage investor. Seix, who had been on the board since 1990, is chairwoman and chief executive of Seix Investment Advisers, an investment management firm being acquired by SunTrust Banks, a Freddie Mac customer. In other news, Freddie Mac said it plans to issue a new $3 billion five-year reference-note security due on July 15, 2009. Including that offering, Freddie Mac has issued $28 billion worth of reference notes during 2004.

Ethyl of Richmond said shareholders approved the company's move to a holding-company structure called NewMarket. The change is expected before July 2. NewMarket is expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol NEU. NewMarket will be the parent of two operating companies -- Afton Chemical, formerly named Ethyl Petroleum Additives, which, as its name implies, focuses on petroleum additives; and Ethyl, representing certain manufacturing operations and the tetraethyl lead business that inspired the original Ethyl name.

Virginia Commerce Bancorp of Arlington said it was offering 775,000 shares of common stock at $26.30 per share in a sale managed by Sandler O'Neill & Partners. The offering is expected to close by tomorrow. The company plans to use the proceeds in its lending and investment activities for branch expansion and for other purposes.

Strayer Education of Arlington, an adult education company, said it amended a previous program to authorize the purchase of an additional $25 million worth of the company's stock in the open market over the next 19 months.


First Potomac Realty Trust of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust that buys and operates industrial buildings in the region, registered a public offering of 4 million common shares with the Securities and Exchange Commission. KeyBanc Capital Markets will act as the lead manager. The company expects to use the proceeds to fund the cash portion of previously announced acquisitions, to pay down the balance on its revolving line of credit and for general corporate and working capital purposes. First Potomac also said it bought a 14-property, 1.4-million-square-foot portfolio, primarily in the Maryland suburbs, for $123 million. Most of the properties are located along the I-270 corridor between Gaithersburg and Frederick.

Deere, a Moline, Ill., tractor manufacturer, said its board elected Vance Coffman, outgoing chairman and chief executive of Lockheed Martin, as a member effective Aug. 15, little more than a week after he retires from the big Bethesda defense contractor.

Sleep Solutions of Annapolis, a medical device and health care services company, said its board approved Jan Barker as chairman. Barker joins SSI from MedVenture Associates, a venture capital firm specializing in medical technology and a primary investor in Sleep Solutions. Barker replaces Daniel R. Dugan, who stepped down to pursue other business opportunities.

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

A jury found in 1999 that ITT Sheraton mismanaged what is now the Marriott Wardman Park hotel. ITT Sheraton has won a reduction of the award.