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Business news in brief

In the Region

Susquehanna Bancshares to buy Community Banks

Susquehanna Bancshares Inc., Lititz, Pa., has agreed to buy Community Banks Inc., Harrisburg, in an $860 million cash-and-stock deal. Susquehanna, which operates 14 branches in Burlington and Camden Counties, said yesterday that it expected the merged companies to save $33 million - or 35 percent of non-interest expense - by eliminating administrative and operational redundancies. Community Banks has 80 branches, including two in Chester County. Susquehanna's shares fell 43 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $21.85, while Community's shares shot up 36 percent, or $8.49, to $32.12.

- Harold Brubaker

Departing Wyeth executive sells 315,036 shares

Kenneth J. Martin, the soon-to-be-former chief financial officer at Wyeth, recently sold $17.5 million worth of shares, or 315,036 shares, in the drug company, according to federal securities filings. On Friday, Wyeth said Martin, 53, would leave the company at the end of June to "pursue personal interests." He became chief financial officer in 2000, executive vice president in 2002, and vice chairman last year. Martin's successor has not yet been named.

- Thomas Ginsberg

Genesis HealthCare delays shareholder vote

As a bidding war heated up, Genesis HealthCare Corp. announced that it was delaying a shareholder vote on its proposed merger agreement with Formation Capital Corp. and JER Partners until May 11. Formation/JER matched Monday's bid from rival Fillmore Capital Partners L.L.C. of $65.25 a share. Formation/JER previously had offered $64.25 a share. It also said it would increase the purchase price 9 percent per annum, or $0.01609 per day, beginning July 21, until the deal closes. Fillmore said that it would increase its price 6 percent per annum, or $0.01073 per day, beginning Aug. 15, until the transaction closes.

- Stacey Burling

Hershey to close plant in California

The Hershey Co. said it would close a California plant with 575 workers, the fourth such closure announced in less than three months as it seeks to cut operating costs and expand overseas. Workers were told Monday they would lose their jobs when the plant was shut down by early next year, Hershey said. The Oakdale plant is operating at less than 40 percent of its capacity, company spokesman Kirk Saville said. Hershey has operated the plant since 1965.

- AP

Dollar Financial swings to a $11.7 million profit

Dollar Financial Corp., a payday-lending and check-cashing company in Berwyn, swung to a profit of $11.7 million, or 48 cents a share, in the March quarter from a loss of $291,000, or 2 cents a share, a year earlier. Dollar's loss in the prior fiscal third quarter included a $5.8 million loss related to the settlement of a lawsuit involving its California operations. Dollar, which has 1,275 locations, said strong growth in Canada and the United Kingdom was the main force behind a 24 percent increase in revenue, to $107.1 million from $86.5 million.

- Harold Brubaker

PPL wants to sell its telecom subsidiary

Allentown-based PPL Corp. said it was seeking a buyer for its telecommunications subsidiary, PPL Telcom L.L.C. PPL Telcom offers broadband service to telecommunications companies, Internet providers, businesses and other institutions from New York to Washington. William H. Spence, PPL's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said PPL intended to focus primarily on its energy supply and delivery businesses. The utility delivers electricity to more than five million customers in Pennsylvania, the United Kingdom and Latin America.

- AP

Met-Pro gets $700,000 order from Chinese firm

Met-Pro Corp., Harleysville, said it received a $700,000 order for a thermal oxider/scrubber system from a Chinese rubber manufacturer. The equipment is expected to be shipped this summer. The system will be used to treat chlorinated organic compound emissions from a synthetic-rubber-manufacturing process. Met-Pro, which had sales of $91.4 million last year, manufactures product recovery and pollution-control equipment. Its shares were down 21 cents at $14.90 on the New York Stock Exchange.

- Paul Schweizer

Aqua America buys systems in three states

Aqua America Inc., Bryn Mawr, said it had acquired water and wastewater systems in Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina in deals that total $540,000. In Pennsylvania, the company acquired the water system serving the Garden Hills residential community near Hawley, Wayne County. The system supplies drinking water to about 100 residents. Company shares were up 22 cents at $22.33 on the New York and Philadelphia Stock Exchanges.

- Reid Kanaley

Sivoo adding Spanish-language content to Web site

Sivoo Holdings Inc., Philadelphia, said it would add 1,000 hours of Spanish-language programming to its video Web site as a result of new agreements with content producers. The agreements will add on-demand programming from Argentina, Colombia and Mexico to Sivoo's Spanish-language portal at


. Company shares were down 3 cents to 95 cents in over-the-counter trading.

- Reid Kanaley


Former official: World Bank not consulted about Riza

The World Bank's ethics committee was not consulted and did not approve of a hefty compensation package for the girlfriend of bank president Paul Wolfowitz, says the man who was the panel's chairman at the time. Ad Melkert made his comments in an appearance before a special bank panel looking into Wolfowitz's handling of the 2005 promotion and pay package of bank employee Shaha Riza. One day earlier, Wolfowitz told the panel the bank's ethics committee had access to all the details surrounding the arrangement involving Riza "if they wanted it."

- AP

Circuit City shares tank after earnings warning

Circuit City Stores Inc. shares plunged to a new 52-week low, after the electronics and entertainment retailer said it expected to post a first-quarter loss because of poor sales of big-screen TVs and withdrew its earnings outlook for the first half of the fiscal year. The company said Monday that it now expected a loss from continuing operations before income taxes of $80 million to $90 million for the first quarter of its 2008 fiscal year. Circuit City shares fell 93 cents, or 5.3 percent, to $16.52 on the New York Stock Exchange.

- AP

Auto-parts supplier to close 13 plants

Auto-parts supplier ArvinMeritor Inc. said it would close 13 plants in North America and Europe and cut 2,800 jobs globally as part of a restructuring plan expected to cost $325 million. ArvinMeritor has 27,500 employees and more than 110 manufacturing facilities worldwide. The company said it would create about 800 positions in what it called "low-cost sites," such as those in Mexico and Eastern Europe. Shares of ArvinMeritor fell 44 cents, to $20.21, on the New York Stock Exchange.

- AP

Icahn campaigns for Motorola seat via newspaper ad

Billionaire financier Carl Icahn made another plea to Motorola Inc. shareholders as part of his down-to-the-wire campaign to win a seat on the company's board. In a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, Icahn blasted Motorola chief executive officer Ed Zander and other managers for the cell phone manufacturer's continued financial problems and urged shareholders to elect him to the 13-member board during Monday's annual meeting. Motorola has 1,100 employees in Horsham, where the company has its connected-home-solutions unit.

- AP