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Business news in brief

In the Region

Pfizer names a new chairman, raises dividend

Drug developer Pfizer Inc. says it named George A. Lorch as its new chairman of the board. Pfizer has major operations in the Philadelphia area because of its acquisition last year of Wyeth. Lorch, 68, has been an independent director on the board since 2000. Former Chairman and CEO Jeffery B. Kindler left the company abruptly on Dec. 5. Ian Read, 57, is taking the CEO position. Pfizer had previously said it would name an independent board member as non-executive chairman. Pfizer also said it would raise its quarterly dividend. The board declared a regular quarterly dividend of 20 cents per share, up from 18 cents. The new dividend is payable March 1 to shareholders record of Feb. 4. - AP

C&D delays shareholder meeting

C&D Technologies Inc., Blue Bell, said it adjourned a special shareholders meeting to deal with the industrial battery-maker's financial restructuring. The meeting was moved back a week, to Dec. 20, to give shareholders time to submit their votes. C&D wants to exchange two series of notes, due to mature in 2025 and 2026, for up to 95 percent of C&D's common stock. The company was delisted in October from the New York Stock Exchange because it failed to meet market capitalization rules. The shares, now traded over the counter, closed at 14 cents on Monday. - Paul Schweizer

Water utilities swap properties

Two for-profit water companies based in the Philadelphia area announced a deal to swap water and waste-water treatment operations to boost efficiencies for both companies. Aqua America Inc., Bryn Mawr, said it agreed to buy water and waste-water operations in Texas from American Water Works Co., Voorhees, for $6 million. The Texas operations serve about 16,000 customers. American Water, meanwhile, agreed to buy water and waste-water operations in Missouri from Aqua America for about $3 million. Nicholas DeBenedictis, chief executive officer of Aqua America, said the deal allows his company to prune in areas where it doesn't have big operations and add in the growing Texas market. American Water said adding smaller systems where it already has strong operations would let it leverage its expertise. The exchange needs state regulatory approvals. - Bob Fernandez

SBA loan deadline set for Jan. 14

Disaster loan applications for damage from storms and flooding in the Philadelphia area on Sept. 30 must be submitted by Jan. 14, the U.S. Small Business Administration said. The low-interest loans are available to homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit organizations in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties in Pennsylvania, Gloucester County in New Jersey, and New Castle County in Delaware. - Paul Schweizer


Tie vote sustains ruling against Costco

The Supreme Court left in place a ruling that found Costco Wholesale Corp. violated U.S. copyright law by selling a line of Omega watches at cut-rate prices without the Swiss watch maker's permission. The court split 4-4 Monday on Costco's appeal of a lower-court ruling. The tie vote upholds that ruling, but does not create a high court precedent on the issue. New Justice Elena Kagan did not take part in the case because she worked on it while serving in the Justice Department. - AP

Madoff won't attend son's funeral

Ira Sorkin, lawyer for Bernard Madoff, said Madoff had decided not to attend the funeral for his son, Mark, out of consideration for his daughter-in-law's and his grandchildren's privacy. The lawyer said Monday that Bernard Madoff, 72, would mourn privately at the North Carolina prison where he's serving a 150-year term. Mark Madoff, 46, hanged himself Saturday in his New York City apartment. Mark Madoff killed himself two years after his father was arrested for cheating thousands of investors of billions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme. - AP

Airbus anticipates strong industry recovery

The international aircraft industry will recover faster than expected, European manufacturer Airbus said, predicting a need for about $3.2 trillion in new passenger and freight planes globally during the next 20 years. The figure translates to nearly 26,000 aircraft, up slightly from an earlier forecast for 25,000. Strong growth in new markets and low-cost airlines in Asia will help propel demand. Though global air traffic historically doubles every 15 years, it is expected to do so in India and China in only six years, the company said. - AP

GM offering buyouts at 14 U.S. plants

General Motors Co. is offering buyouts to several thousand skilled trades workers at 14 plants around the United States. The automaker will pay eligible workers $60,000 to retire with full benefits. Younger workers will have the option to take the $60,000 in exchange for giving up retiree health care and other benefits. The company estimates it has 2,000 more skilled trades workers than it needs right now. Skilled trades workers do jobs that need special training, such as electrical work and welding. - AP

Security breaches reported at three companies

Walgreen Co., McDonald's and Twitter reported unrelated security breaches. Walgreen said hackers who gained access to a list of customer e-mail addresses may have sent spam directing customers to enter personal data into outside websites. McDonald's said private information that customers supplied when signing up for online promotions or subscriptions was exposed when a subcontractor improperly handled the data. Twitter said hackers broke into an unspecified number of its users' accounts and sent spam promoting acai berry drinks. Twitter said the hackers used passwords harvested in an earlier breach at Gawker Media, which runs Gawker, Gizmodo and other technology and media sites. - AP

Toyota recalling Sienna minivans

Toyota Motor Corp. said it would recall nearly 100,000 Sienna minivans from the 2011 model year to replace a switch bracket on the brake lamp that could cause the brake lights to stay on. The automaker said a driver's foot could hit the switch bracket and deform it while applying the parking brake pedal. Toyota said it did not know of any accidents or injuries related to the issue. - AP