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Business news in brief

In the Region

Bond banker to pay $5 million

The former head of a now-defunct municipal bond underwriter has agreed to pay four Pennsylvania school districts more than $5 million to settle allegations he defrauded them by selling them risky debt.

Dolphin & Bradbury Inc. chairman Robert Bradbury,

62, also agreed to be barred from association with any broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer, according to a

Securities and Exchange Commission

order issued yesterday. The SEC at the time said the schools lost $11 million. The Boyertown Area School District, the North Penn School District, the Perkiomen Valley School District, and the Red Lion Area School District agreed to settle claims with Bradbury for $5.2 million, said Denise Colliers, an SEC attorney. Bradbury, who lives in Chester County, did not admit or deny wrongdoing in settling the SEC's civil complaint.

- Bloomberg News

Vanguard CEO to become board chair

The Vanguard Group

, a provider of retirement plans and investment manager, says chief executive officer

F. William McNabb III

will take on the role of board chairman in January. McNabb, 52, succeeds

John J. Brennan

, who was chief executive from 1996 to August 2008, when McNabb stepped into the role as part of a transition plan announced earlier that year. The change in chairman is also part of that plan, spokeswoman Linda Wolohan said. Brennan, 55, has been chairman of the Malvern mutual fund company since 1998.

- AP

Kulicke & Soffa CEO to retire in '11

Kulicke & Soffa Industries Inc.

, Fort Washington, said chairman and chief executive officer

Scott Kulicke

would retire in June 2011. Kulicke, 60, has been CEO since 1979 and chairman since 1984. The maker of chip-manufacturing equipment said its board's search for a new CEO would include internal and outside candidates. Kulicke & Soffa shares closed yesterday at $5.12, down 4 cents.

- Chris Mondics

Radnor firm moving base to Ky.

RecoverCare L.L.C.

, Radnor, a distributor of wound-care and bariatric equipment, said it would move its headquarters to Louisville, Ky. A company representative was not immediately available to comment on the number of local jobs to be affected. The decision follows the merger in August of RecoverCare with


, Louisville, also a provider of wound-care products and services. Privately owned RecoverCare said it had about 75 Louisville jobs and would create at least 57 more. The company said it was induced to move by a $2.3 million tax incentive offered by Kentucky.

- Chris Mondics

Kensey Nash plans stock buyback

Kensey Nash Corp.

has announced a repurchase program for up to 400,000 of its shares of common stock. As of Nov. 30, the Exton medical-technology company had 11 million shares outstanding. The buyback will be funded from available cash. The company's stock price has declined to $22.90 as of yesterday's trading from $29.40 in early August. Kensey Nash sells biomaterials, which are used in implants and can treat or replace tissue, and endovascular products, which are used to treat blocked blood vessels.

- Paul Schweizer

RAIT wins approval of settlement

RAIT Financial Trust

, a Philadelphia real estate investment company, won final court approval to pay $32 million to settle claims it failed to disclose risks tied to subprime mortgages. Nine shareholder lawsuits were consolidated in October 2007, and a settlement was reached in July. The investors' attorneys won approval of $6.6 million in fees and expenses. "The settlement is fair, just, and reasonable, and it's the correct thing to do under the circumstances," U.S. District Judge Legrome Davis said yesterday during a hearing in Philadelphia.

- Bloomberg News

Flights to Alaska start in summer

US Airways Group Inc.

will offer nonstop flights from Philadelphia to Anchorage, Alaska, next summer. It will be the only nonstop airline service to Alaska from the northeastern United States, the carrier said. The new route will be seasonal, operating from June 1 to Sept. 7, with a 4 p.m. daily departure, arriving at 7:40 p.m. Anchorage time. The return flight will depart Anchorage daily at 9 p.m., arriving at 8:01 the next morning in Philadelphia. The route will be flown with Boeing 757 aircraft with 12 first class seats and 164 seats in the main cabin. Passengers may begin booking tomorrow.

- Linda Loyd


Exports ease trade deficit

The U.S. economic recovery is likely to draw strength from exports such as farm products, autos, aircraft, and industrial machinery - all of which, the

Commerce Department

reported yesterday, helped lower the nation's trade deficit in October. Exports of U.S. goods rose for a sixth straight month, and further gains should bolster manufacturing firms, which struggled during the recession.

- AP

AOL regains its independence

AOL Inc.

resumed life as an independent Internet company yesterday as it completed its spin-off from

Time Warner Inc.

and closed the book on one of the most disastrous business combinations in history. AOL shares closed down 15 cents at $23.52. Today's AOL is much different from the company once known as America Online, which got big in the 1990s by selling dial-up Internet access and then used $147 billion of its inflated stock to buy Time Warner.

- AP

Holiday air travel expected to fall

Air travel over the holidays will fall 2.5 percent from last year, a trade group for the nation's major carriers predicted. The

Air Transport Association of America

said it expected 41 million passengers to fly on U.S. airlines over the 21-day period from Dec. 17 through Jan. 6. The busiest travel days are expected to be the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday after Christmas - Dec. 27 to 29 - the group said.

- AP

GAO: More wireless scrutiny needed

More than one in four U.S. wireless customers had unexpected charges on wireless-phone bills, and many do not know where to lodge complaints, showing the need for better industry oversight, congressional investigators said. About 10 percent of wireless-phone users are somewhat or very dissatisfied, the

Government Accountability Office

said in a report. Almost a fifth wanted to switch services and did not do so, with many citing cancellation fees as the reason for staying with their carriers, the GAO said.

- Bloomberg News