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Business news in brief

In the Region

Montco biotech firm to go public

Tengion Inc.

, an East Norriton biotechnology firm developing ways to generate new organs based on a patient's own cells, registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission to raise $42.25 million in an initial public offering of common stock. The company, founded in 2003, has spent $88.2 million on research and development but does not yet have any revenue. In previous deals with venture capital firms, Tengion raised $144 million by selling convertible preferred stock.

-Harold Brubaker

PMA allowed to sell reinsurance unit

PMA Capital Corp.

, Blue Bell, said state regulators had approved the sale of its reinsurance unit,

PMA Capital Insurance Co.

, to

Armour Reinsurance Group Ltd.

for $100,000. Reinsurance is insurance for insurance companies. As part of the deal, Armour will receive $13 million from PMA Capital to help run the unit's remaining operations. The payment consists of $3 million in cash now and two $5 million notes, one payable next year and the other in 2013. PMA Capital Insurance in 2003 was placed "in run-off" by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, meaning the unit could not write any new policies but could continue to service existing policies. The parent company provides workers' compensation insurance.

- Paul Schweizer

Retirement community operator sold

The owner of two Philadelphia-area retirement communities is being bought for an undisclosed amount by

Redwood Capital Investments L.L.C.

, a New York investment firm. Redwood won an auction to buy bankrupt developer

Erickson Retirement Communities

, a Baltimore operator of retirement communities in 11 states that filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in October. Its properties include

Maris Grove

in Glen Mills and

Ann's Choice

in Warminster.

- Bloomberg News


Mortgage rate climbs above 5%

The average fixed-rate for a 30-year mortgage climbed to more than 5 percent this week for the first time in two months, leading to a decline in mortgage applications. The average was 5.05 percent compared with 4.94 percent last week,

Freddie Mac

said. Mortgage rates have risen since they hit a record low of 4.71 percent the week of Dec. 3. As a result, mortgage applications for purchases fell nearly 12 percent last week from the previous week, and refinance applications dropped 10 percent, the

Mortgage Bankers Association


- AP

U.S. ends aid cap for mortgage firms

The Obama administration is removing the $400 billion financial cap it will provide to

Fannie Mae


Freddie Mac

to keep the mortgage giants from failing.

Treasury Department

officials said the cap would be replaced with a flexible formula to ensure the companies will have the government support needed to stand behind the billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities they sell to investors. Since the financial crisis hit last year, Fannie and Freddie have received $111 billion in government infusions.

- AP

USDA: Food price rise is moderate

Retail food prices in the United States this year are estimated to have increased 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent, restrained by declines in red meat and fresh produce, the

U.S. Department of Agriculture

said. An increase at the lower end of that range would be the smallest since 2002. Weaker world economic growth slowed price increases, USDA said. Its 2010 forecast: an increase of 3 percent to 4 percent.

- Bloomberg News

Cadbury sued on buyout bid

Cadbury P.L.C.

directors were sued by a shareholder claiming the world's second-largest candy-maker should seriously consider a

Kraft Foods Inc.

takeover offer. Susan Dougherty, the investor, asked a federal judge in Newark, N.J., to order the board to fulfill its duties to the company and shareholders by engaging in good-faith negotiations with Kraft. Cadbury is fighting the $16.8 billion bid from Kraft.

Hershey Foods Co.

also is considering a bid for Cadbury.

- Bloomberg News

Madoff in prison medical center

The federal

Bureau of Prisons

said Bernard L. Madoff, the financier who ran a massive Ponzi scheme, is being treated at a Butner, N.C., prison medical center for dizziness and hypertension. Madoff, 71, has been imprisoned since March after pleading guilty to fraud and admitting to cheating thousands of investors out of billions of dollars.

- AP