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Business news in brief

In the Region

No new Tropicana bids by deadline

A group including billionaire investor Carl Icahn appears to have won the right to buy the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City at the bargain price of $200 million after no additional bids were submitted by yesterday's deadline. The casino had been expected to fetch nearly $1 billion before the recession sent the price plummeting. An attorney for the conservator tasked with selling the Tropicana had said an after-hours offer from a potential purchaser might materialize, but none was received two hours after the 5 p.m. deadline. It's unclear whether such an offer could be accepted. The sale became necessary in December 2007 when state regulators stripped a casino license from the Tropicana's former owner, an affiliate of Kentucky-based Columbia Sussex Corp. - AP

CEO: TARP least dilutive

Lincoln National Corp., the Radnor life insurer that is deciding whether to accept government aid, said an investment from the Treasury would be the least dilutive way the company could raise capital. Selling a stake to the Troubled Asset Relief Program could be part of a "mix" of capital alternatives available, chief executive officer Dennis Glass said during an investor conference in New York, adding that TARP wouldn't be his first choice. Glass said Lincoln had "plenty of capital" available. - Bloomberg News

CSL inks deal for flu vaccine antigen

CSL Biotherapies said it had signed a $180 million contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide Novel A, or H1N1, influenza vaccine antigen in bulk form to support the department's pandemic influenza preparedness efforts. An antigen is a substance that stimulates an immune response. CSL Biotherapies, a King of Prussia unit of Australia's CSL Limited, expects to deliver the first product by September. The new vaccine antigen will be tested in clinical trials funded by HHS. - Miriam Hill

Peco cuts natural-gas charges

Weak natural-gas prices will pay off again for Peco Energy Co.'s suburban gas customers starting Monday, when the Philadelphia utility will reduce its usage charges by 11 percent, to $1.21 per hundred cubic feet. Peco said the adjustment would save a typical customer about $12 per month. Peco said it was projecting that prices would remain relatively flat through next winter's heating season for its 485,000 gas customers in Philadelphia's Pennsylvania suburbs. Pennsylvania utilities are required to make such adjustments each quarter, based on the actual costs each utility pays for its gas supplies. Peco also passed along rate cuts on Dec. 1 and March 1. - Jeff Gelles

Dutch regulators reject Seroquel bid

AstraZeneca P.L.C. said Dutch regulators rejected its application to market its Seroquel XR as a treatment for major depression, dealing a blow to the company's hopes to market the schizo-

phrenia drug for that purpose across Europe. Under European Union rules, approval in one country clears the way for marketing authorizations across the region. The company could still get the drug approved for this use in Europe, however, and said it would apply to do so. In April, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended that Seroquel XR be approved as an additional medication to treat depression in patients not responding to current drugs. But the FDA panel denied the London company's bigger request to treat depression and anxiety as a single therapy. The company has U.S. headquarters in Wilmington. - Miriam Hill

Unisys extends exchange deadline

Unisys Corp., Blue Bell, extended until June 12 an offer to exchange some of its outstanding debt for up to $375 million of new senior secured notes that are due in 2014. Fitch Ratings Inc. and Standard & Poor's Ratings Services reacted negatively to the initial offer on April 30, downgrading the company's credit ratings. Fitch said it believed that Unisys had to offer the exchange because of a "high probability of default or insolvency over the near term absent the exchange." Fitch said Unisys notes due after 2010 would be eligible to receive only 67 percent to 68 percent of face value. Unisys said that, through Thursday, $71.4 million in notes had been tendered. - Harold Brubaker

Phila. Newspapers seeks extension

Philadelphia Newspapers L.L.C.

, the owner of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and, asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court yesterday to extend the period during which the company has the exclusive right to file a plan of reorganization, from June 22 through Sept. 21. Under bankruptcy law, a company that files for bankruptcy protection from creditors has exclusive right for 120 days to file a proposal for reorganizing its business or a reduction in debt in exchange for new ownership. When that initial period of exclusivity expires, lenders have the right to propose their own plan to reorganize the company, unless an extension is granted. The judge in the Philadelphia Newspapers case, Jean K. FitzSimon, said at a recent hearing that it is unusual for there to be just one period of exclusivity in a case of the size and complexity of the Philadelphia Newspapers case. The company's motion is to be heard at a hearing June 16 at 10 a.m. Separately, Philadelphia Newspapers reported in its monthly operating report for April that it had $31.42 million in revenue during the month and $28.31 million in expenses. That generated positive cash flow from operations of $3.11 million for April and left the company with $19.75 million in cash as of May 3.

- Harold Brubaker


Economy falls at a 5.7 pct. pace in 1Q

The economy sank at a 5.7 percent pace in the first quarter. However, many analysts believe activity isn't shrinking nearly as much now as the downturn flashes signs of letting up. The Commerce Department's updated reading on gross domestic product showed the economy's contraction from January to March was slightly less deep than the 6.1 percent annualized decline first estimated last month. But the new reading was a tad worse than the 5.5 percent annualized drop economists had forecast. - AP

Sloan resigns from B of A board

Bank of America Corp. says its lead outside director, O. Temple Sloan Jr., has resigned from its board. Sloan, 70, was a director for 13 years, as the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank expanded to become one of the nation's largest banks. He has been among the board members under fire in recent months as shareholders criticized the company for its handling of the takeover of Merrill Lynch & Co. - AP

Tenet in tender offer for $1B in notes

Tenet Healthcare Corp., Dallas, said it had started a tender offer to buy up to $1 billion of its outstanding 9.875 percent senior notes due 2014. The tender offer will expire at the end of June 25, and is conditioned on the company's being able to raise at least $200 million by issuing new senior secured notes. Tenet owns Hahnemann University Hospital and St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in the Philadelphia region. - Roslyn Rudolph

FHA provides details on loans

Thousands of first-time homebuyers will be able to get short-term loans so they can quickly use a new $8,000 tax credit that was designed to boost the battered U.S. housing market. The Federal Housing Administration released details of a plan in which borrowers who use FHA loans can get advances from lenders that effectively let them receive the credit before they complete their taxes. Borrowers can claim the credit by filing an amended 2008 tax return or can wait for their 2009 return. Borrowers will still have to come up with the FHA's required 3.5 percent down payment, unless they work through a state or local housing program. But officials say the money can still be used for closing costs or a larger down payment. - AP