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Business news in brief

Starting tomorrow, Wal-Mart will sell the Apple iPhone. The world's biggest department-store chain joins Best Buy Inc., Apple Inc. and AT&T Inc. stores in selling the phones.
Starting tomorrow, Wal-Mart will sell the Apple iPhone. The world's biggest department-store chain joins Best Buy Inc., Apple Inc. and AT&T Inc. stores in selling the phones.Read moreAT&T via Bloomberg News

In the Region

Cigna is sued over transplant

The family of a 17-year-old leukemia patient in California has sued health-insurance giant

Cigna Corp.

of Philadelphia for her death, after the company initially refused to pay for a liver transplant. The Los Angeles family accuses Cigna of delaying and rejecting valid claims, which resulted in the wrongful death of

Nataline Sarkisyan

, said the family's attorney, Mark Geragos. Cigna had approved the transplant after a public protest but just hours before the girl died. Cigna spokesman

Chris Curran

said that the company empathizes with the family but added that the lawsuit is without merit.

- AP

Jones Apparel halves credit line

Jones Apparel Group Inc.

, which is based in New York but has financial operations in Bristol, said it needs less borrowing capacity because of the down economy.

So the maker of clothing and footwear brands, including Jones New York, Nine West and Anne Klein, reduced the amount it can borrow through existing lines of credit to $600 million from $1.25 billion.

A $500 million line maturing in June was terminated, and a $750 million line maturing in May 2010 was cut to $600 million.

- Harold Brubaker

TelVue gets a new CEO

TelVue Corp.

, a Mount Laurel firm that helps spiff up public-access TV channels with flashier graphics and sells services that allow pay-per-view ordering, has a new president and chief executive.

Jesse Lerman

, 36, replaces

Joseph M. Murphy

, who resigned Dec. 19. "Mr. Murphy's resignation is not due to any disagreement or dispute with TelVue," the company said in an SEC filing. TelVue's majority stockholder is

H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest


- Roslyn Rudolph

Scooter maker settles with Pa.

Electric Mobility

, a Sewell manufacturer of electric scooters and electric wheelchairs, settled allegations by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General that it engaged in deceptive marketing, including allegedly failing to clearly explain insurance coverage and payments. Electric Mobility paid restitution to all customers who complained and will provide refurbished power chairs to 10 needy Pennsylvanians.

- Harold Brubaker


iPhones available soon at Wal-Mart


will start selling Apple's popular iPhone tomorrow. The world's biggest department-store chain said it will sell the phones for $2 less than the regular price - with a two-year contract: $197 for the 8-gigabyte model, or $297 for the 16-gigabyte model. The other retail chain selling the phones,

Best Buy Inc.

, is discounting the phones by $9. The phone is also sold at

Apple Inc.


AT&T Inc.



In gasoline prices, it's 2004

Retail gasoline prices tumbled to the lowest level in nearly five years. And while crude futures rose, analysts believed it was a temporary pause in an extended, downward arc as the recession spreads.

Tom Kloza

, publisher and chief oil analyst at

Oil Price Information Service

, said the country "could probably bail out some banks and maybe even some of the auto companies" with $1 billion a day in energy cost savings. Average retail gas prices fell six-tenths of a penny to a new national average yesterday of $1.642 a gallon, a price not seen since February 2004. OPEC has tried to curtail production to boost prices. But investors in recent months have focused on demand driving the market, and the steady drumbeat of gloomy economic news that shows consumers aren't spending as they used to.

- AP

Japan reflects spreading recession

Japan's government figures showed the jobless rate jumped, household spending fell, and industrial production plunged by its biggest margin on record in November. The 8.1 percent drop in manufacturers output was the largest since Tokyo began measuring it in 1953. A government survey predicted further declines of 8 percent in December and 2.1 percent in January.

- AP

FTC rules on King Pharmaceuticals

King Pharmaceuticals Inc.

said federal regulators would allow it to buy

Alpharma Inc.

, provided that King sells some assets related to Alpharma's painkiller Kadian. The Federal Trade Commission is provisionally accepting a consent order for public comment. After three months of public wrangling, Alpharma accepted a buyout offer worth $1.6 billion, or $37 per share, from King in November.

- AP

Mexico suspends meat imports

Mexico suspended meat imports from 30 processing plants in 14 states, including Pennsylvania, in apparent retaliation for the United States' putting a country-of-origin labeling law into effect Oct. 1 amid concerns about the safety of imports. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's list of affected plants included

Smithfield Packing Inc.

in Tarheel, N.C., and

John Morrell & Co.

plants in South Dakota and Iowa, and a Pennsylvania beef plant run by its

Moyer Packing Co.

unit. The action pushed down beef and pork futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

- AP

Russian oil exec gets 15 years

A Moscow court resentenced a former manager of


oil company to 15 years in prison on embezzlement charges. The former Yukos chief office manager,

Alexei Kurtsin

, already is serving a 14-year term after being convicted of embezzling 74 million rubles ($2.6 million) by passing the money off as charity contributions. Yukos founder

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

, a onetime Kremlin critic, is also in prison. Kremlin critics have denounced the sentences as a Kremlin campaign of revenge.

- AP

GM sues bankrupt parts supplier

General Motors Corp.

is suing its onetime "supplier of the year" for immediate access to door panels, airbag covers, and other specialized parts.

Cadence Innovation L.L.C

. filed for bankruptcy in August. GM claims in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing that delays would hamper the launch of its new Chevrolet Camaro, disrupt assembly operations, and cause millions of dollars in damage it can ill afford. Cadence did not immediately comment.

- AP