Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Business news in brief

In the Region

Merck and World Bank to fight river blindness

Merck & Co. Inc. and the World Bank will spend $50 million to wipe out river blindness, a common cause of blindness in Africa. Merck, Whitehouse Station, N.J., with large operations in the Philadelphia area, plans to provide $25 million over eight years, and will donate its drug Mectizan to treat the disease until it has been eliminated, the company said. The World Bank will work with Merck and other companies to raise the remaining $25 million. The bank has generated $20 million from international partners, which it did not name.

- Bloomberg News

US Airways revenue passenger miles fell in Nov.

US Airways Group Inc. said its revenue passenger miles, a key industry gauge, fell 4.6 percent last month from November 2006. A revenue passenger mile is a paying customer flown one mile. The airline, which carries nearly two-thirds of the traffic at Philadelphia International Airport, said it flew 4.7 billion revenue passenger miles last month. Capacity - the number of seats available - also fell 4.6 percent. Meanwhile, the airline's passenger load factor - its percentage of occupied seats - fell 0.1 percentage points to 77.8 percent. Its on-time performance was the highest of any month this year at 80.6 percent.

- Paul Schweizer

Arbitration award upheld; Interdigital shares rise

Shares of Interdigital Inc., King of Prussia, rose 18.4 percent yesterday after it said a court upheld an arbitration award that directs Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., South Korea, to pay Interdigital $134 million in royalties. A federal judge in New York said Samsung must pay Interdigital the royalties on patents Interdigital holds for certain wireless-communications technology. Interdigital shares closed at $20.13, up $3.13.

- Reid Kanaley

City Avenue hotel to be Crowne Plaza Main Line

The Holiday Inn City Avenue will become Crowne Plaza Main Line Philadelphia on Tuesday as part of a $6 million renovation. The renovation, which began in January, included public spaces and 200 of its 340 guest rooms. The hotel is owned by Intercontinental Hotels Group, Atlanta, and managed by Synergy Hospitality, Wayne. A string of Holiday Inns throughout the state have become Crowne Plazas.

- Suzette Parmley

FCC: Verizon can't lift caps on line-access rates

The Federal Communications Commission denied Verizon Communications Inc. permission to lift caps on the rates it charges rivals for access to its lines in Philadelphia and five other East Coast markets. Verizon's request would have affected Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; New York; Boston; Providence, R.I.; and Virginia Beach, Va. The decision by the FCC was unanimous, a commission statement said. Verizon's request had been opposed by such companies as Sprint Nextel Corp. and XO Holdings Inc.

- Reid Kanaley

Nasdaq may delist Verticalnet for 2d time in 2007

For the second time this year, Verticalnet Inc., Malvern, said it received a delisting notice from the Nasdaq Stock Market. The company has requested a hearing to appeal the decision. The Nov. 28 notice says Verticalnet is not in compliance with Nasdaq Capital Market listing requirements. The business-software company got a similar determination letter in May. In that case, the company regained compliance in August.

- Reid Kanaley

Airtrax expects to file delayed results this week

Airtrax Inc., Blackwood, said it expected to file its delayed financial statement this week for the third quarter that ended Sept. 30. The forklift-maker said the delay was due to restatements of financial filings that go back to 2004. Those restatements - stemming from incorrect accounting for derivatives issued with prior convertible debt and equity financings - will be released after the latest quarterly report, the company said. Shares rose a penny to close at 16 cents.

- Reid Kanaley


Jobs added in Nov. triple the expected amount

Companies in the United States added 189,000 jobs in November, more than triple the amount economists had forecast, a private report based on payroll data showed. The increase followed a revised estimate of 119,000 new jobs in October, 13,000 more than calculated a month ago, ADP Employer Services said. The ADP report has shown average monthly job growth of 93,000 so far this year. The figures spurred economists to lift their estimates for the government's payroll report in two days.

- Bloomberg News

China opposes U.S. subsidy allegations

China strongly opposes U.S. allegations that it unfairly subsidizes the manufacture of its steel pipes and woven sacks for export, its Commerce Ministry said in a further sign of trade friction between the countries. As the U.S. trade deficit with China has ballooned, reaching $232.5 billion last year, tensions over China's growing exports and the level of its currency have grown, with the United States filing more antidumping investigations against Chinese goods.

- AP

Toss hurricane-case award, State Farm asks court

State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. Inc. asked a federal appeals court to throw out a $1 million punitive-damage award to a couple who sued the insurer for refusing to cover Hurricane Katrina damage to their home. A panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard arguments in the first among hundreds of Katrina insurance lawsuits to be tried by a jury in Mississippi. The court did not immediately rule on State Farm's appeal. At the end of January's trial, U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. ruled that State Farm was liable for $223,292 in wind damage to the Biloxi home of Norman and Genevieve Broussard. A jury subsequently awarded $2.5 million in punitive damages, but Senter reduced that amount to $1 million.

- AP

Scotland to review Trump's golf-resort proposal

Scottish lawmakers backed government efforts to save Donald Trump's proposed $2.1 billion golf resort that would be built on an unspoiled beach near Aberdeen. The Scottish government took the unusual step of agreeing to review Trump's application after a local council rejected it. A final decision on the project is still likely months away.

- AP

Chrysler to lose $1.6 billion, CEO tells employees

Chrysler L.L.C. chief executive officer Robert Nardelli told a group of employees this week that the company was headed for a $1.6 billion loss this year, according to a person familiar with his statements. If correct, it would be the company's second straight year of losses. A Chrysler spokeswoman said the company would not comment on its financial performance because Chrysler is a private company.

- AP

Yield falls for taxable funds, rises for tax-free ones

The average seven-day yield on taxable money market funds fell to 4.10 percent from 4.20 percent last week, according to iMoneyNet Inc. A seven-day yield is an annual yield that is based on the preceding seven days' level of income by the fund. The average yield on tax-free funds rose to 3.06 percent from 3.04 percent last week.

- Paul Schweizer