In the Region

Phila. Burger King franchisee settles bias suit

Chriskoll Inc., Philadelphia, the owner of a Burger King in Brookhaven, will pay $15,800 to settle a federal lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission on behalf of a Muslim employee, Gary Majors of Chester, who was fired in 2004 after he refused, for religious reasons, to shave his beard. The company did not admit to any wrongdoing. The restaurant had a policy that employees be clean-shaven except for those required to have beards to practice their religions. Chriskoll must also provide training for managers about employees' rights.

- Jane M. Von Bergen

Moody's lowers Hershey's long-term-debt rating

Moody's Investors Service lowered the long-term-debt rating of the Hershey Co., the Pennsylvania candy-maker, to "A2" from "A1" because of recent board changes and weakness in its chocolate business. The change affects $2.4 billion in debt, Moody's said.

- Bloomberg News

Conn. firm to buy hotel planned for YMCA site

HEI Hotels & Resorts, Norwalk, Conn., will buy the planned Le Meridien Hotel, in the former YMCA at 1421 Arch St., Philadelphia, when the hotel opens in 2009, HEI partner Steve Mendell said. The seller is Development Services Group, Memphis. The purchase price was not disclosed. Development Services has hired Blackney Hayes Architects P.C., Philadelphia, to design the hotel and Domus Inc., East Falls, to be the general contractor.

- Joseph N. DiStefano

Unisys will offer $250 million of senior notes

Unisys Corp. said it planned to offer $250 million of senior notes. The Blue Bell seller of computer-server software and consulting services said it would use the proceeds to redeem the $200 million of its 77/8 percent senior notes due April 2008 and for general corporate purposes.

- Linda Loyd

Villanova to get $1 million for real estate program

Daniel DiLella, chief executive officer of BPG Properties, Philadelphia, said he would give $1 million to Villanova University's business school for a real estate studies program. DiLella said he hoped to help raise an additional $4 million to "grow the undergraduate program to a major in finance."

- Joseph N. DiStefano

DuPont sees agriculture-business gains in 2007

DuPont Co., Wilmington, said earnings in the agriculture business this year would exceed an August forecast because of higher-than-anticipated seed sales in Latin America. Sales and profit will rise more than 10 percent in 2007, J. Erik Fyrwald, group vice president of the agriculture and nutrition business, told analysts and investors.

- Bloomberg News

PHLX trading options on Marine Shipping Index

The Philadelphia Stock Exchange said it began trading options on the PHLX Marine Shipping Index. The index tracks the stock performance of 17 publicly listed companies primarily involved in seaborne transportation of crude oil, petroleum products, chemicals, iron ore and agricultural commodities.

- Harold Brubaker

Airgas buys distributors in 2 states and Canada

Airgas Inc., Radnor, said it acquired industrial-gas and welding-supply distributors in Iowa, Texas and British Columbia that, together, would add about $22 million in annual sales. Terms were not disclosed. The acquired companies were Wright Welding Supply, Des Moines, Iowa; Basin Welding Supply, Odessa, Texas; and Mainland Welding Supplies Ltd., based in Surrey, British Columbia, near Vancouver.

- Reid Kanaley

Topaz Pharmaceuticals raises $20 million

Topaz Pharmaceuticals L.L.C., Jenkintown, said it had raised $20 million in equity financing from Aisling Capital L.L.C., New York, and Fidelity Biosciences, Boston. The company is developing pediatric medicines and said the funds would be used to complete clinical trials of a new prescription topical treatment for head lice.

- Linda Loyd

A&P completes acquisition of Pathmark chain

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Inc., Montvale, N.J., the owner of the A&P supermarket chain, which includes Super Fresh, completed its $690 million acquisition of Pathmark Stores Inc., which has stores in the Philadelphia area.

- Bloomberg News

Campus Apartments adds 9 student communities

Campus Apartments Inc., Philadelphia, said it assumed the management of nine student apartment communities from ING Real Estate Community Living Fund, Rabil Properties L.L.C., and Corridor Ventures Real Estate. The portfolio includes 3,315 student-housing beds at the University of Toledo, Purdue University, the University of Missouri at Columbia, the University of South Florida, and Florida State University.

- Suzette Parmley

Elsewhere

AT&T hanging up on pay-phone business

AT&T Inc. will exit the shrinking pay-phone business by the end of next year, the company said. AT&T will sell 65,000 pay phones in prisons and in public places. It expects the phones to be purchased by independent operators. The pool of pay phones nationwide has shrunk from 2.6 million to 1 million in the last decade.

- AP

IBM plans buyback of up to $1 billion more

International Business Machines Corp., the world's biggest computer-services company, decided to buy back as much as $1 billion in shares after its stock declined. The buyback adds to a $12.5 billion share repurchase plan announced in May. Shares of IBM closed up 65 cents yesterday at $105.83.

- Bloomberg News

Houghton Mifflin to exit college-textbook business

Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, is selling its college-textbook unit to Cengage Learning, Stamford, Conn., for $750 million so it can focus on its publishing business geared toward kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as trade and reference publications.

- AP

Advertising gain seen for Internet, loss for radio

ZenithOptimedia Group, a major advertising company based in England, said the Internet's share of advertising would rise to 9.4 percent in 2008 from 8.1 percent this year, while radio's share of the ad market would slip to 7.9 percent from 8.2 percent.

- AP

Interest rates fall for 3- and 6-month T-bills

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills fell in yesterday's auction, with rates on six-month bills falling to their lowest level in 21/2 years. The Treasury Department auctioned $21 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 3.030 percent, down from 3.175 percent last week. An additional $20 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 3.190 percent, down from 3.340 percent last week. For a $10,000 bill, the three-month price was $9,923.41, while a six-month bill sold for $9,838.73.

- AP

1-year T-bills' yield, used for ARM changes, falls

The average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, fell to 3.25 percent last week from 3.30 percent the previous week, the Federal Reserve said yesterday.

- AP