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Business news in brief

In the Region

Comcast broadens NHL distribution

Comcast Corp., which recently reached an agreement to broaden distribution of the NFL Network, said yesterday that it had reached a similar deal with the NHL Network. The hockey network will appear on Comcast's "Digital Classic" tier of service, which has about 10 million viewers, for the 2009-10 hockey season. The NHL Network, which shows 75 live hockey games, is now available on Comcast's extra-cost sports tier with 2 million customers. - Bob Fernandez

Shares rise on sale news

Shares of Trevose electrical-component-maker Technitrol Inc. rose more than 26 percent yesterday after the firm announced that it was selling its Danish-based Medtech components business for $200 million in cash to pay down debt. Technitrol is selling the unit to Altor Fund III, a private-equity fund that invests in firms in the Nordic region. Medtech makes high-end microphones and electromechanical devices. Technitrol shares closed up $1.04 at $5.03. - Roslyn Rudolph

American Water offering 26M shares

American Water Works Co. Inc., Voorhees, said it would offer 26 million shares of its common stock. It plans to use the proceeds from the sale to reduce its short-term debt. American Water will sell 14.5 million shares, and a subsidiary of the parent company, utility RWE AG, will sell 11.5 million shares. After the offering, the subsidiary stockholder is expected to own about 49 percent of American Water's shares. - Roslyn Rudolph

2 N.J. utilities propose rate cuts

South Jersey Gas Co. and Public Service Electric & Gas Co. have proposed rate cuts that would save residential customers on their gas bills. If approved, SJG's reduction would save residential customers a total of 20.2 percent on their gas bills. That would amount to $25.42 on a 100-therms monthly natural gas bill. In addition, residential heating customers will get a credit of about $68 in October. PSE&G proposed to lower bills this fall about 7 percent, or about $10 per winter month, for a residential customer using 100 therms. - Chris Mondics

Kennedy Health joins Penn network

The Kennedy Health System has joined the Penn Medicine Cancer Network, a group of community hospitals aligned with the University of Pennsylvania Health System's Abramson Cancer Center. Penn specialists will work with Kennedy doctors to provide patient care, and Penn will be involved in cancer-education programs for Kennedy staff members. Kennedy has hospitals in Cherry Hill, Stratford, and Washington Township, and outpatient facilities throughout Camden and Gloucester Counties. - Stacey Burling

Glaxo signs deal with Concert

GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C., which has major operations in the Philadelphia area, signed a potential $1 billion deal with U.S. biotech company Concert Pharmaceuticals Inc. concerning deuterium-containing medicines, a deal that will beef up its pipeline of early-stage drugs. - AP

AmerisourceBergen buys firm

Drug wholesaler AmerisourceBergen Corp., Valley Forge, said it had bought Innomar Strategies Inc., a Toronto specialty-drug-services company, for about $15 million Canadian, or $13.8 million U.S. cash. AmerisourceBergen employs 10,000, including 1,000 in the Philadelphia area. - Linda Loyd

Contract includes work in Phila.

General Dynamics Information Technology, a unit of General Dynamics Corp., received a $47 million contract from the U.S. Navy to perform work for the Military Sealift Command. The single-award contract covers one base year with four option years. General Dynamics, Fairfax, Va., will provide engineering support. Work will be performed at several locations, including Philadelphia. - Inquirer Staff

PolyMedix gets $1.6M contract

PolyMedix Inc. received a one-year, $1.6 million research contract from the Department of Defense's Defense Threat Reduction Agency to develop antibiotics for biowarfare pathogens. The Radnor biotechnology firm will have four members of its scientific staff devising rapid-response measures to counter biowarfare and other public health threats. - Roslyn Rudolph


Chrysler sale to go to appeals court

The court-approved sale of most of Chrysler L.L.C.'s assets to a group led by Fiat S.p.A. will be appealed directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals, skipping U.S. District Court, Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Gonzalez said. The appeal was made by a group of Indiana pension funds, and the request to skip District Court was made by Chrysler and Fiat. Turin-based Fiat can walk away from the sale if it isn't completed by June 15, with a one-month extension for antitrust approvals. - Bloomberg News

Pending home sales rise 6.7 percent

The number of U.S. home buyers who agreed to buy a previously occupied home in April posted the largest monthly jump in nearly eight years. The National Association of Realtors said its seasonally adjusted index of sales contracts signed in April surged 6.7 percent to 90.3, far exceeding analysts' forecasts. A nearly 33 percent sales increase in the Northeast and a 9.8 percent jump in the Midwest led the overall surge. In the eight-county Philadelphia area, pending sales were up 13.9 percent. - AP

Thrift losses narrow in quarter

Losses at U.S. thrifts narrowed in the first quarter, but the number of institutions in trouble rose, the Office of Thrift Supervision said. Thrifts lost $47 million in the quarter ended March 31, their best performance since September 2007. That compared with losses of

$5.4 billion in the fourth quarter and $617 million in the year-earlier period. But the number of "problem thrifts" rose to 31 from 26 in the previous quarter. - AP

Meridian Capital denies allegations

Meridian Capital Partners Inc., a New York investment adviser, denied allegations of wrongdoing after the Masonic order in Philadelphia sued over the company's alleged investment of $13 million with conman Bernard L. Madoff. The R.W. Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania sued Meridian May 29, saying the company acted with "utter disregard" when it invested the group's money in a Madoff feeder

fund. - Bloomberg News