In the Region

No Airgas ruling till January

Airgas Inc., Radnor, in the midst of a hostile takeover fight with Allentown's Air Products & Chemicals Inc., must wait until next year to find out if its anti-takeover defense is valid, a judge said. Delaware Chancery Court Judge William B. Chandler III told attorneys for both companies he would be traveling abroad to visit a family member and wouldn't be available for the "next couple of weeks," according to a transcript of a teleconference Monday. "I guess I'll be working on this matter while I'm away, but there will not be any decision by the court until after I get back," Chandler said. "So I'm not going to give any decision until the first of the year, the New Year." - Bloomberg News

Stock to be sold in secondary offering

Lannett Co. Inc., Philadelphia, said it priced an offering of five million shares of its common stock at $5 each. Of the total shares to be sold, 2.5 million will come from the company, and the other half will come from a current shareholder. Lannett makes generic pharmaceuticals, including antacids and dermatological preparations. It said it would use the proceeds from the shares it sells to expand its product line, perhaps including its pain-management business. The company also is assessing possible acquisitions. Its shares, listed on the American Stock Exchange, closed down 94 cents, or 16 percent, at $4.93. As recently as last Thursday, the shares were at $6.75. - Paul Schweizer

$15.1M for heat, power projects

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority approved $15.1 million in funding for six clean-energy projects in the state. The money will come from the 2009 federal stimulus program. The projects include a $3.2 million cogeneration plant to serve a new casino in Atlantic City and another $3.2 million for a cogeneration plant to serve the Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. The six projects will create a combined 240 construction jobs and 18 permanent jobs, while reducing carbon emission by 86,000 tons, the authority said. - Paul Schweizer

Saladworks expands to Louisiana

Saladworks, the Conshohocken restaurant chain, said it would open three outlets in Louisiana in 2011, marking the company's entry into that state. The new restaurants will be franchises in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas and will be operated by one developer. The company previously announced plans to expand into Texas and North Carolina next year. Saladworks currently has 100 franchise locations in 12 states. - Paul Schweizer

Elsewhere

HCP buying HCR real estate assets

HCP Inc. said it would buy all the real estate assets of HCR ManorCare, which runs more than 300 rehabilitation and nursing facilities, for $6.1 billion in cash and stock. HCR ManorCare, of Toledo, Ohio, has facilities in King of Prussia, Huntingdon Valley, Montgomeryville, Hatboro, Yardley, Pottstown and Devon in Pennsylvania, and Cherry Hill, Sewell, Paulsboro, Hainesport, Medford, Pitman, Sicklerville and Voorhees in New Jersey. HCP, of Long Beach, Calif., will pay $3.53 billion in cash and $852 million in stock for the properties. It can issue 25.7 million shares or a cash equivalent. The deal also includes $1.72 billion in funds HCP previously invested in HCR ManorCare. HCP, a real estate investment trust that owns and operates health facilities, will have an option to buy a 9.9 percent stake in HCR ManorCare for another $95 million. Separately, HCP said it would buy out its partner in a joint venture in a deal it valued at $860 million in total. - AP

Ghana to start pumping oil

Ghana is poised to begin pumping oil Wednesday, kicking off a new industry expected to bring $1 billion annually to a part of the world where most people still get by on less than $2 a day. But critics warn the West African country, one of the most stable and democratic on the continent, has yet to pass crucial legislation to avoid what is known in Africa as the "resource curse." In places such as Congo and Nigeria, oil or mineral wealth has fueled conflict instead of boosting desperately needed development. British explorer Tullow Oil P.L.C. is leading a consortium that will start producing 55,000 barrels per day Wednesday from rigs off Ghana's Atlantic Ocean coast in the Jubilee Field, which was discovered three years ago and holds an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil. - AP

Core wholesale prices tame in Nov.

Wholesale prices outside the volatile food and energy categories rose modestly last month because of a large increase in the cost of new cars. But there was little sign of inflation in the report, which showed that the weak economy is keeping prices in check. The Labor Department said the Producer Price Index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, rose by 0.8 percent in November. That's the biggest rise in eight months. But most of that rise was driven by a sharp increase in energy prices, particularly a 4.7 percent rise in the cost of gasoline. Food prices rose by 1 percent, led by a 13.6 percent increase in the cost of fresh fruit and melons. - AP

Asian airlines showing strength

Airlines will show better-than-expected earnings of $15.1 billion this year as investors favor shares of carriers in Asia, where travel is expected to grow strongly, the International Air Transport Association said. Based on its market value, Air China is now worth twice what investors are valuing either Delta in the United States or Germany's Lufthansa, highlighting the industry's shift away from the United States and Europe to higher-growth countries, IATA said. Air China has seen its market capitalization surge to $20 billion, followed by Singapore airlines with $14 billion and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific with $12 billion. By passenger miles flown, Delta still ranks as the world's number one. - AP

Chrysler recalling Dodge Ram trucks

Chrysler is recalling about 76,000 Dodge Ram pickup trucks to fix a power-steering issue that could make brake pedals return slowly after the driver applies them. The recall affects certain 2010-2011 model year Dodge Ram trucks built from March 2009 through October 2010. Chrysler said some trucks with diesel engines and a hydroboost brake system could be equipped with a power-steering reservoir cap with excessive vent pressure levels. The excessive levels could cause the brake lights remain on, potentially causing a crash. Owners can contact Chrysler at 800-853-1403. - AP