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Business news in brief

In the Region

Authority to sell Build America Bonds

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which gives about $26 million a year to the state's transport budget, is selling $1.5 billion in Build America Bonds, the week's largest offering, as increased sales of the taxable debt pushed yields to the highest in almost eight months. States and local governments are set to sell about $12.6 billion in debt this week, including $4.2 billion in Build Americas, both the highest in three weeks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The program, scheduled to expire Dec. 31, provides a 35 percent federal interest-rate subsidy to issuers. - Bloomberg News

Chemtura raises some prices

Chemtura Corp., Philadelphia, says it is raising prices for some of its chemical products because of "significant and sustained" increases in the cost of key raw materials it uses. The price hikes of up to 15 percent will be effective Jan. 1. "These increases are essential to sustain Chemtura as a viable supplier and to enable continued reinvestment," the company said. The increases will be imposed on products from its antioxidant and UV stabilizer business. UV stabilizers are used to slow degradation of products from exposure to ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. Chemtura, a maker of specialty chemicals, emerged from bankruptcy protection in November. - Paul Schweizer

Spirits importer to sell notes

Central European Distribution Corp., Mount Laurel, said it would sell notes worth 50 million euros, or $66.4 million, to institutional investors. The debt securities, to mature in 2016, will be denominated in euros and pay interest at the rate of 8.875 percent annually. Proceeds from the sale will be used to repay existing short-term debt. Central European is a beer and spirits importer and distributor. - Paul Schweizer


U.S. to sell remaining Citi shares

The government said it would sell its remaining shares of Citigroup Inc. common stock and expects to turn a profit on its $45 billion bailout of the giant bank. The Treasury Department said it would sell about 2.4 billion shares of Citigroup Inc. common stock. Citigroup received $45 billion in taxpayer support in one of the largest bank rescues by the government. In addition to the common stock, Treasury still holds Citigroup warrants that it has yet to sell. - AP

Federal effort targets financial fraud

A nationwide law enforcement crackdown targeting financial fraud has led to cases against 343 criminal defendants and involves $8.3 billion in estimated losses for investors, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday. The crackdown, dubbed Operation Broken Trust, is the first national effort of its kind aimed at a wide range of investment fraud schemes. The 31/2-month campaign was organized by the Obama administration's multiagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which was created a year ago as the recession led to an increase in economic crimes. - AP

Barnes & Noble, Borders surge

Shares of Barnes & Noble Inc. and Borders Group Inc. surged in New York trading after William Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management L.P. offered to work with Borders on a takeover of the bookstore chain's larger rival. The hedge-fund firm is willing to help Borders fund an offer of $16 a share, saying the move would lead to savings, according to a regulatory filing. The offer price would value Barnes & Noble at about $960 million, based on the shares outstanding. The proposal from Pershing, the largest Borders holder after chief executive officer Bennett LeBow, would combine the two biggest U.S. bookstore chains as sales of paper books slump further and digital books become more popular. Shares of Borders closed up 31 cents, or 28.7 percent, at $1.39, while Barnes & Noble shares closed up $1.41, or 10.6 percent, at $14.69. "We have a totally failed bookstore essentially trying to merge with a bookseller that's the largest in the market that is having a hard time maintaining traction," said Louis Meyer, an analyst for Oscar Gruss & Son Inc. in New York. "They are going to say there are synergies. In a declining industry, synergies are that your competitors go out of business." - Bloomberg News

Shares rise on CEO's retirement

Massey Energy Co., owner of the West Virginia mine where 29 people died in April, climbed after it said chief executive officer Don Blankenship would retire at the end of this month. Massey shares rose $1.21, or 2.4 percent, to close at $51.63 as the announcement raised speculation about a possible sale or merger. The shares have risen 23 percent this year. Blankenship, 60, will be succeeded by president Baxter F. Phillips Jr., the Richmond, Va., company said. - Bloomberg News

Rates drop at weekly Treasury auction

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills fell in Monday's auction. The Treasury Department auctioned $29 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.145 percent, down from 0.175 percent last week. Another $28 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 0.185 percent, down from 0.210 percent last week. The discount rates reflect that the bills sell for less than face value. For a $10,000 bill, the three-month price was $9,996.33 while a six-month bill sold for $9,990.65. - AP

Yield higher for 1-year T-bills

The Federal Reserve said Monday that the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, rose to 0.28 percent last week from 0.27 percent the previous week. - AP

Lottery program to extend to all Pa. Wawas

The Wawa convenience-store chain will expand a test Pennsylvania Lottery program to all 210 Wawa stores in the state by next spring, Gov. Rendell announced. Last June, Wawa began testing self-service lottery sales machines in 20 of its stores, a pilot program Rendell said was well-received by customers. The governor said the rollout of the self-service machines to all Pennsylvania Wawa locations could boost lottery ticket sales by up to $37 million a year. That could yield $11 million more annually, after expenses and payouts to winners, for programs that support the state's senior citizens. - Paul Schweizer