In the Region

Merck HIV medication licensed for 29 countries

Merck & Co. Inc. said yesterday that its HIV medication Isentress was granted a license for distribution in the 27 European Union member countries, plus Iceland and Norway. Merck, Whitehouse Station, N.J., said the medication, also called raltegravir, was approved for use along with other AIDS medications. It was cleared for use in the United States in October. The company has major operations in the Philadelphia area.

- Reid Kanaley

Buckeye buys Farm & Home Oil for $145.5 million

Buckeye PG L.L.C. said it bought Farm & Home Oil Co., Telford, for $145.5 million. Farm & Home, founded in 1936, distributes refined petroleum products such as gasoline in eastern and central Pennsylvania. Buckeye, Breinigsville, Lehigh County, is the general partner of Buckeye Partners L.P., an operator of petroleum pipelines and terminals.

- Paul Schweizer

Debt holders move to bar Tropicana bankruptcy

Debt holders approved a deal that will prevent Tropicana Casinos & Resorts from having to file for bankruptcy, according to a spokesman for Tropicana and its parent companies. The deal was designed to avoid harming Tropicana's casinos in other states, including Nevada. That's where regulators said this week that they would more closely examine the company's operations in light of its having lost a license to operate the Tropicana in Atlantic City.

- AP

Foamex to pay down loan by $40 million

Foamex International Inc., Linwood, said it would reduce its debt by Dec. 30 to about $531 million by making a payment of $40 million on its first-lien term loan. Foamex, a manufacturer of flexible polyurethane and polymer foam products, said in October that it intended to cut its debt to less than $560 million by the end of the year, from $610 million at the end of June.

- Tom Belden

PREIT buyback of up to $100 million authorized

Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust said its board authorized repurchase of up to $100 million of its common stock. The program will be in effect in 2008 and 2009. Shares closed yesterday at $30.52, up 57 cents.

- Tom Belden

First Resource Bank declares 5% stock dividend

First Resource Bank of Exton declared a 5 percent stock dividend payable Jan. 2 to shareholders as of Dec. 19. The dividend will increase the number of outstanding shares of the company's common stock to about 1,197,899. Its shares closed Thursday at $8.05, and did not trade yesterday.

- Paul Schweizer

Carpenter Technology selling ceramic operations

Carpenter Technology Corp., Wyomissing, agreed to sell its ceramic operations to U.K.-based Morgan Crucible Co. P.L.C. for $147 million. Separately, Carpenter announced a share-repurchase program for up to $250 million outstanding common shares. The sale of the Certech and Carpenter Advanced Ceramics ceramics operations is expected to close early in 2008. They represent about 5 percent of Carpenter's total revenue, with combined annual sales of $91 million.

- Reid Kanaley

Air Products posts 12% revenue gain in Oct., Nov.

Air Products & Chemicals Inc., Allentown, said revenue in October and November rose 12 percent, aided by a weaker dollar. The dollar's drop in value makes American items less expensive for overseas buyers. The sales gain from a year earlier was 3 percent, excluding the effects of currency swings, acquisitions, and the cost of natural gas, which is contractually passed through to most customers, Air Products said.

- Bloomberg News

N.J. agrees to $325 million in new investments

New Jersey's State Investment Council agreed to $325 million in new investments, including its first overseas hedge fund and another pool founded by two former employees of SAC Capital Advisors L.L.C. New Jersey will invest $150 million split evenly between two hedge funds, London-based Pendragon Capital and Level Global L.P. in New York.

- Bloomberg News

Elsewhere

FDA issues new safety warning on J&J pain patch

Johnson & Johnson's Duragesic pain patch and its generic equivalents got a second safety warning from the Food and Drug Administration, which said improper use of the drug continues to cause deaths and life-threatening breathing difficulty. The product contains fentanyl, a narcotic, and is used mostly to treat cancer pain. The FDA issued an alert on the patch in July 2005 after 120 patients taking the drug died. The agency said yesterday that it is still getting reports of "a small number" of deaths when doctors prescribe the medicine incorrectly.

- Bloomberg News

Miller and Coors sign definitive agreement

SABMiller P.L.C., parent of Miller Brewing Co., and Molson Coors Brewing Co. took another step toward combining their U.S. operations, saying they had signed a definitive agreement. The two brewers - Miller is the nation's second-largest; Coors, the third-largest - announced plans to form MillerCoors in October in an effort to compete more effectively in a struggling domestic industry against market leader Anheuser-Busch Cos.

- AP

United Airlines doubles fuel surcharge

UAL Corp.'s United Airlines doubled a fuel surcharge to $20 on round-trip tickets to help offset rising costs. United, Chicago, increased the fee applied to most fares in the continental United States and Alaska late Thursday. The price of jet fuel has climbed 50 percent this year. The largest U.S. carriers have raised fares at least seven times since Sept. 1.

- Bloomberg News

GM recalls 313,000 vehicles for fluid leak

General Motors Corp. said it was recalling about 313,000 passenger cars and crossover vehicles to fix a fluid leak that could lead to the driver losing control of the vehicle. The recall involves 275,936 vehicles in the United States, including the 2005-2007 Cadillac CTS and STS sedans, 2005-2007 Cadillac SRX crossovers, and 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and the 2007 Saturn Sky convertibles.

- AP

BMW plans to cut thousands of jobs in 2008

BMW AG said it would cut thousands of jobs next year, three months after incoming chief executive officer Norbert Reithofer said he would focus on increasing the rate of return for the automaker. Mathias Schmidt, a spokesman at the Munich-based company, did not say exactly how many jobs would be cut. The Web site for the news magazine Der Spiegel put the figure at 8,000. Schmidt said most of the cuts would come in Germany, where the company employs some 80,000 workers.

- AP

Royal Philips bids for Pa. medical-devices firm

Royal Philips Electronics NV, the Netherlands, said it bid about $5.1 billion for Respironics Inc., Murrysville, Pa., a maker of medical devices that assist or monitor breathing. Philips offered $66 a share for Respironics, a 24 percent premium to the company's closing price of $53.11 Thursday. Shares rose 23 percent yesterday to $65.32.

- AP