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Business news in brief

In the Region

Bank to buy back securities

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. will buy back $37.63 million of auction-rate securities from about 50 Pennsylvania investors under an agreement with the Pennsylvania Securities Commission, the state regulator said. The German bank will also pay a $344,384 fine. Auction-rate securities were a short-term funding mechanism that collapsed in early 2008 amid fallout from the subprime mortgage meltdown. New Jersey securities officials led the probe of Deutsche Bank, which was forced in June to buy back $60 million of the securities from New Jersey investors and pay a $1 million fine. - Harold Brubaker

Firm sees earnings above estimates

AmerisourceBergen Corp. said it expected earnings in the current quarter to be several cents above analysts' consensus estimate of 43 cents a share. The Chesterbrook pharmaceutical distributor attributed the performance for its fiscal first quarter, which ends this month, to expected revenue growth of 10 percent compared with last year's quarter, and the sale of generics. Because of the strong first quarter, Amerisource also forecast earnings for all of fiscal 2010 to be at the higher end of its previous guidance of $1.82 to $1.92 per share. Shares closed up 78 cents at $25.78. - Paul Schweizer

Investment merger approved

Shareholders in Alesco Financial Inc., a Philadelphia investment firm, approved its merger with Cohen & Co., a Philadelphia investment bank and asset manager, Alesco said. - Harold Brubaker

ConEd to compete for PPL customers

ConEdison Solutions is the latest electric provider to enter the burgeoning retail market in PPL Utilities territory, where rate caps are expiring at the end of the month. The Allentown utility's rates will increase by about 30 percent on Jan. 1, and ConEdison became the third licensed competitor to offer discounts from PPL's "provider of last resort" rate. ConEdison said its residential and small-business rates are up to 13 percent less for customers who sign up for a year. In the newly deregulated electric market, PPL suggests customers consult the Pennsylvania Office of the Consumer Advocate, Rate caps for Peco Energy customers won't expire until the end of 2010. - Andrew Maykuth

FDA panel OKs wider Crestor use

Federal health advisers say expanded use of AstraZeneca's cholesterol pill Crestor can benefit patients with healthy cholesterol levels by preventing heart attack, stroke, and death. The company has U.S. headquarters near Wilmington. A Food and Drug Administration panel voted 12-4 with one abstention that Crestor's benefits outweigh its risks in patients with normal cholesterol and no history of heart disease. The FDA is not required to follow the group's advice, though it usually does. - AP

Daleco mining project gets approval

Daleco Resources Corp., West Chester, said it had received final federal approval to begin digging for mineral ore in the Gila National Forest in Sierra County, New Mexico. The Sierra Kaolin Open Clay Mine Project, a joint project with Tecumseh Professional Associates, was given approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. That completes a 21-month regulatory review, Daleco said. - Paul Schweizer

Bank sells convertible stock

Continental Bank sold $6 million of convertible preferred stock to current shareholders and new investors. The Plymouth Meeting bank with $485 million in assets and 10 branches said the money would let it remain well-capitalized while continuing to grow. In the quarter ended Sept. 30, Continental earned $449,000, up from $106,000 in the same period a year ago, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data. - Harold Brubaker

Souderton man sentenced in scam

John William Snyder, 42, of Souderton, was sentenced to five years and five months in prison on three counts of wire fraud in a scheme that cost his victims, some of whom thought they were investing in a paintball business, more than $2.4 million, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia said. Prosecutors said that Snyder falsely claimed to have access to millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts in order to induce victims to lend him money, and that Snyder falsely claimed he could sell an interest in a paintball business in which he had no ownership interest. He pleaded guilty last April. U.S. District Court Judge Gene E.K. Pratter also ordered Snyder to pay $2.4 million in restitution to 13 victims. - Inquirer Staff

Weston finds financing partner

Weston Solutions Inc., West Chester, said it would use Bostonia Partners L.L.C. as its finance partner to build government-

sponsored renewable energy projects. Weston has experience in redeveloping environmentally damaged properties, and has combined that in the last two years with energy technology to move into the market for clean energy. - Paul Schweizer


Change of plans on debt increase

The No. 2 Democrat in the House said Congress would pass a two-month, $200 billion-plus increase in the government's ability to borrow before closing shop for Christmas. Democrats had hoped to enact an increase of up to $1.9 trillion to avoid having to cast an unpopular vote to increase the debt limit before next year's elections. But Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) said the two-month increase is all that can get through the Senate before year's end. - AP

$3B owed in back taxes

Federal workers owed the government more than $3 billion in back income taxes in 2008. More than 276,000 workers and retirees owed back income taxes as of Sept. 30, 2008, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service. The $3.04 billion owed was up from $2.7 billion owed by employees and retirees in 2007. - AP

Judge tosses former execs' case

A federal judge dismissed fraud and conspiracy charges in the stock-option backdating case against Broadcom Corp. cofounder Henry T. Nicholas III and former chief financial officer William Ruehle because of prosecutorial mis-

conduct. U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney also asked prosecutors to explain why a separate drug indictment against Nicholas should not be thrown out; he dismissed a civil case the Securities and Exchange Commission filed against four Broadcom executives. - AP