Business news in brief
In the Region
CollaGenex acne-drug patent declined
CollaGenex Pharmaceuticals Inc. yesterday said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a rejection of its patent application covering a method of treating acne, but the company will continue to press for approval. The Newtown-based company, which specializes in dermatological treatments, said the patent involved using chemically modified tetracylines, including incyclinide, in a new approach that would treat acne without fear of germ resistance. Colin W. Stewart, the company's president and chief executive officer, said CollaGenex will continue to pursue a patent and is "confident" that a "patent will ultimately issue to cover incyclinide."
- Stacey Burling
Hershey to close second plant, cut 260 employees
The Hershey Co. said that it would shut down a plant in Reading as part of a wider move to cut labor and materials costs. The closing, which will affect about 260 unionized employees, is the company's second plant-closing announcement in a little over two months. A spokesman said the company would work out severance agreements with the workers and close the plant in 2008. Hershey has already announced it will cut up to 900 of the 3,000 workers in its hometown.
Rohm & Haas profits fall 8 percent
Quarterly profits at Rohm & Haas Co. fell 8 percent on a weak housing market that curtailed demand for paint, and softer monomer prices, the company said. The Philadelphia specialty chemical company, a major producer of paint additives, reported net income of $190 million, or 86 cents a share, compared with $207 million, or 93 cents a share, in the prior-year period. Sales rose 5 percent to $2.2 billion in 2007 from $2.1 billion in the prior year. Higher sales came mostly from more demand and favorable foreign currency translation.- Bob Fernandez
Susquehanna Bancshares to buy Widman, Siff
Susquehanna Bancshares Inc., of Lititz, Pa., said it had agreed to buy Widmann, Siff & Co. Inc., an investment advisory firm in Radnor with more than $300 million in assets under management. The price was not disclosed. Under the agreement, Widmann, Siff will become a subsidiary of Valley Forge Asset Management Corp. of King of Prussia, which Susquehanna had purchased in 1999.
- Harold Brubaker
Mace Security misses 10-K deadline
Mace Security International Inc. said it could not meet a regulatory deadline for filing its 2006 10-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission because of accounting errors and unreconciled accounts in its security segment. The company said it expects to file the 10-K by May 24, when it will meet with the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel. The panel will consider whether the Mace stock should be delisted.
- Bob Fernandez
High court declines to overturn Hercules judgment
The Supreme Court turned down a request by chemical producer Hercules Inc. to overturn a $119 million judgment against it by a lower federal court. A federal district court in 1998 found the Wilmington-based company liable, under the federal environmental Superfund law, for most of the cost of cleaning up a hazardous waste site in Jacksonville, Ark.
Wolfowitz hires lawyer to fight for job
World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz has hired a prominent lawyer as he fights to keep his job, in jeopardy for arranging a generous compensation package for a bank employee with whom he has been romantically linked. "I want to be sure that he receives appropriate treatment and fair treatment," Robert Bennett said. Bennett said he was retained Saturday, one day after the World Bank's board ordered a special panel on whether, among other things, Wolfowitz properly handled the promotion of Shaha Riza to a high-paying job at the State Department in 2005. Bennett's previous clients include former President Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones case.
Nationwide settles with Mississippi Katrina residents
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. has agreed to settle out of court with up to 227 residents of Mississippi's Gulf Coast who sued the insurer over Hurricane Katrina damage, an attorney for the policyholders said. Terms of the mass settlement between the Columbus, Ohio-based company and the policyholders were not disclosed. In a similar deal, State Farm had agreed to pay about $80 million to settle with up to 640 policyholders.
University, two firms agree to new conduct code
Washington University in St. Louis and two for-profit higher-education providers agreed to adhere to new codes of conduct in their business with student lenders to resolve investigations by attorneys general in New York, Illinois and Missouri. DeVry University, a unit of DeVry Inc., will also repay students $88,122 and Career Education Corp. will contribute $21,200 to a fund for educating potential borrowers about student loans. The agreements stem from investigations examining the $85 billion student-loan industry.
- Bloomberg News
Microsoft seeks guidance from EU on pricing
Microsoft responded to European Union allegations that it is overcharging rivals for information that would make their products work better with Windows. The software maker also repeated its request for more guidance on what regulators consider to be an acceptable price. To level the software industry's playing field, EU officials want Microsoft's rivals to have access at a "reasonable cost" to material that would help their programs operate with Windows-based servers.
Cinemark, AMC theater chains to go public
Madison Dearborn Partners and J.P. Morgan, which snapped up Cinemark USA Inc. and AMC Entertainment Group during Hollywood's slump three years ago, plan to take the theater chains public now that ticket sales are booming. Madison Dearborn and Quadrangle Group L.L.C. are seeking to sell $587 million of shares in the Plano, Texas-based exhibitor Cinemark. AMC, bought by J.P. Morgan Partners and Apollo L.P. in December 2004, may raise $789 million in a May 3 initial public offering. The private-equity investors are betting a strong summer schedule with Sony Corp.'s
and Walt Disney Co.'s
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
will spur ticket sales demand for the companies' shares. AMC has 13 theaters in the eight-county area.
- Bloomberg News
Delta Air narrows quarterly loss on higher sales
Delta Air Lines Inc., a week away from exiting bankruptcy, reported that it narrowed its loss in the first quarter on an 11.4 percent rise in sales. The nation's third-largest carrier said it lost $130 million in the three months ending March 31, compared with a loss of $2.07 billion for the same period a year ago.
Treasury bills auctioned at lower discount rates
The Treasury Department auctioned $13 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 4.835 percent, down from 4.865 percent last week. Another $12 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 4.835 percent, down from 4.865 percent last week. The discount rates reflect that the bills sell for less than face value. For a $10,000 bill, the three-month price was $9,877.78, while a six-month bill sold for $9,755.56.
Average yield falls for 1-year Treasury bills
The Federal Reserve said the average yield in the secondary market for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, fell to 4.93 percent last week from 4.97 percent the previous week.