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MARYLAND CHAMBER RESOLVES DISTRIBUTORS', MANUFACTURERS' DISPUTE

 ANNAPOLIS, Md., April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The Maryland Chamber of Commerce has resolved a dispute between the state's wholesale distributors and manufacturers over proposed rules governing the way manufacturers can terminate business relationships with distributors of their products.
 As a result, both sides have agreed on the wording of legislation that last year, and earlier this session, had generated contentious division between the two segments of Maryland's business community.
 The amended legislation, Senate Bill 505, passed the House on March 29 and is awaiting Senate approval. It would give distributors basic protections in instances where they are distributing products for a manufacturer but do not have a written contract. The protections include right to 60-days notice of termination and the right to have manufacturers repurchase unsold merchandise.
 Under the bill, manufacturers would retain their basic rights to terminate a distributor under the terms and conditions of written contracts. Manufacturers had vehemently complained that the original legislation was too broad and would supersede existing written contracts and unreasonably interfere with their ability to negotiate future contracts.
 Casper R. Taylor, chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, praised the Maryland Chamber of Commerce "for bringing these parties together on an issue that had caused considerable debate last year." Wholesalers and manufacturers also praised the Chamber for mediating the dispute.
 "This was one of the most difficult disputes within our membership in recent years," said Donald P. Hutchinson, president of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. "But we ended up with a good bill -- one that gives distributors much of the protection they sought without tying the hands of manufacturers."
 He praised Gene L. Burner, executive vice president of the Chamber, for coordinating the negotiations. "I'm pleased that we were able to demonstrate the Chamber's ability to represent the entire business community on complex and divisive matters," Hutchinson said.
 Attorney Alan Rifkin, who is representing distributors, called the resolution of the dispute "a real tribute to Gene Burner and the Chamber's commitment to its members."
 The Chamber's involvement "was instrumental in helping us find a reasonable compromise and put this dispute behind us," said Robert P. Sweeney, government relations manager for IBM, which was a leading opponent of the original distributors bill.
 Specifically, the amended legislation covers situations when agreements are canceled prior to the natural expiration or renewal date, or where there are no written contracts. In these instances, distributors will have a 60-day notice, the right to have the manufacturer repurchase the goods and, in some limited cases, the right to attempt to cure the deficiencies resulting in termination.
 On the other hand, manufacturers will be able to terminate a distributor upon the natural expiration of an agreement or at the time of a renewal option. Finally, the bill is structured in a way that encourages both manufacturers and distributors to have written agreements. There is a window of opportunity up to Oct. 1, 1993, to develop and sign written contracts. In the absence of a written contract, the bill provides minimum termination requirements.
 -0- 4/2/93
 /CONTACT: Gene Bracken of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, 410-269-0642, or 410-727-0447/


CO: Maryland Chamber of Commerce ST: Maryland IN: SU: LEG

MJ-MK -- PH012 -- 2532 04/02/93 13:01 EST
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Date:Apr 2, 1993
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