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Business news in brief

In the Region

WikiLeaks donations in Phila.

A Philadelphia tech start-up said it was taking donations for WikiLeaks, after several U.S.-based companies cut ties to the website in the face of government pressure. Mobile-to-mobile payment provider Xipwire says on its website that "while people may or may not agree with WikiLeaks . . . anyone who wishes to support the organization through a donation should be able to do so." The announcement comes after MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal all stopped facilitating donations to WikiLeaks, and stopped hosting the site. - AP

Turnpike Authority raises bonds offer

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority increased its offer of Build America Bonds to $1.85 billion from $1.5 billion, according to Bloomberg data. The taxable bonds maturing in 2041 were priced to yield 7.102 percent, about 2.62 percentage points above comparable Treasuries, according to information from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., senior manager of the deal. The authority is issuing the debt to help fund a $7 billion program that includes widening portions of the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. - Bloomberg News

Formal bid for Dutch biotech

Johnson & Johnson made a formal bid Wednesday for Crucell, offering to pay $2.3 billion for the rest of the Dutch biotechnology company. Johnson & Johnson, which already owns 17.9 percent of Crucell, is offering 58 percent above the closing price Sept. 16, the day before Johnson & Johnson announced its intention to buy Crucell. Johnson & Johnson has operations in the Philadelphia area. - New York Times News Service

Company names Phila. executive CEO

Carlos Fadigas, chief executive of Braskem America, the Philadelphia business formerly known as Sunoco Chemicals, was promoted to chief executive of Braskem S.A., the parent company in Brazil. Fadigas, 40, will replace Bernardo Gradin as head of Braskem, which produces 33 billion pounds of thermoplastic resins annually at 31 plants in Brazil and the United States. Braskem acquired Sunoco Chemicals' polypropylene business for $350 million this year. It operates plants in Marcus Hook, West Virginia, and Texas, and has a research facility in Pittsburgh. - Andrew Maykuth

Southwest slips in on-time arrivals

Southwest Airlines Co. slipped to eighth from No. 1 in on-time arrivals for the last 23 years, since the U.S. government began tracking results. Southwest's on-time performance fell as Philadelphia's second-busiest carrier expanded in congested Northeast airspace, according to Department of Transportation data. Southwest's policy of not charging for checked bags has kept planes fuller. It was on time 81 percent of the time in the 12 months ended Oct. 31, compared with an average 81.9 percent on-time performance over the last 23 years. It was on time 77.5 percent of the time in October 2010, compared with 84 percent for US Airways Group Inc. Southwest still has the fewest customer complaints of major airlines. - Linda Loyd

2d price hike this week for Chemtura

Chemtura Corp., Philadelphia, said it was raising prices on some of its products by up to 25 percent, effective in January. It is the second price hike announced this week by the maker of specialty chemicals as the cost of its raw materials rises. The latest increase affects Chemtura's bromine and bromine-based derivatives, which are used in rubber, soaps, medications, flavors, and fragrances. The earlier increase - up to 15 percent - was for chemicals that slow degradation of products exposed to sunlight. - Paul Schweizer

Hershey Co. to sell debt securities

The Hershey Co. said it would sell notes at current, low interest rates to replace $150 million worth of notes due in 2012 that pay 6.95 percent interest annually. The older notes will be redeemed, the candy company said, and the new notes will mature in 2020. The company, in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, did not set the interest rate on the new notes. But a similar 10-year Treasury note now yields about 3.28 percent. A corporate note typically might sell for up to 1 percentage point more than government debt. The total amount of the sale may be up to $350 million, with proceeds above what is needed to redeem the older notes to be used for general corporate purposes, Bloomberg News reported. - Paul Schweizer

Funds for Pa. for green jobs

Pennsylvania received $1.2 million in federal stimulus funds to prepare workers for green careers in energy-related jobs. The state Department of Labor & Industry and Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Board will award grants ranging from $50,000 to $294,675 to seven job-training centers throughout the state. The recipients are providing a total of $800,000 in matching funds. Recipients are West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund, Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia, IBEW Local 56 Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board, Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board, Metropolitan Career Center, and American Cities Foundation. - Diane Mastrull


AIG takes key step to pay off bailout

Bailed-out insurer American International Group Inc. is taking a key step toward paying off a bailout that was at one point worth $182 billion - the largest of the financial crisis. The company said in a public filing that it would pay off a loan from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. AIG said that would clear the way for the Treasury to sell off the government's stake. Treasury's stake in AIG will temporarily rise from roughly 80 percent to 92 percent, as part of the deal. Treasury officials said the shares would be sold to maximize taxpayer profits and minimize the risk of loss. The company sold insurance-like protection against losses on bonds without having the funds to cover those losses. AIG and Treasury first described the plan in September. - AP

Rates mixed for money funds

The average seven-day yield on taxable money-market funds was 0.03 percent this week, unchanged from last week, according to iMoneyNet Inc. A seven-day yield is an annual yield that is based on the preceding seven days' level of income by the fund.

The average yield on tax-free funds was 0.03 percent this week, down from 0.04 percent last week. - Rhonda Dickey