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Business news in brief

In the Region

Ikea assembles 45,360 solar panels

Ikea, the Swedish home-furnishings retailer with U.S. headquarters in Conshohocken, announced plans to install 45,360 solar panels on 10 locations in the southern United States. The panels will have a generating capacity of 10.7 megawatts. The retailer already has 23 solar systems installed or under way. The 10 new locations will increase the company's solar presence to 75 percent of its U.S. locations. - Andrew Maykuth

N.J. fugitive is arrested in Fla.

Federal law enforcement officials apprehended a former Voorhees resident, who allegedly sold bogus insurance policies and had been a fugitive for three years, in Port Charlotte, Fla., the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey said. Thomas M. Grubb Jr. was arrested in April 2008 and released on bail. He failed to appear for a court hearing that November. Grubb, who was employed at Aconorate Insurance Agency in Hammonton, was then indicted this past June for allegedly conspiring to defraud purchasers of commercial liability insurance by overcharging them. Grubb was also charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly giving an Aconorate client $25,000 in cash, so the client would provide false documents to the FBI. - Harold Brubaker

Tengion names CEO

Tengion Inc., an East Norriton biotechnology company, named John L. Miclot as its president and chief executive officer. He replaces CEO Steven A. Nichtberger, who resigned in late June. Last month, Tengion announced a restructuring to cut 30 jobs, or 58 percent of its workforce and to concentrate operations in Winston-Salem, N.C. - Reid Kanaley

Aqua extends DeBenedictis' contract

The Aqua America Inc. board of directors announced it was extending the contract of chief executive Nicholas DeBenedictis through mid-2015. DeBenedictis, 66, has been CEO of the Bryn Mawr water utility since 1992. He was previously senior vice president for corporate affairs of Peco Energy Co.   - Andrew Maykuth


GOP senators to block nominee

Republicans say they have the votes to stop consideration of a nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as the U.S. Senate moves toward a procedural vote Thursday. Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, told reporters that 45 Republicans would block a move by the Democratic leader, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, to vote on the nomination of Richard Cordray, the former attorney general of Ohio. - Bloomberg News

Bill to address drug-price gouging

Proposed legislation to be introduced next week would make price gouging on prescription drugs that are in short supply a federal crime. Sen. Charles E. Schumer's bill would carry a penalty of up to $500 million for each case of price gouging. Shortages of lifesaving generic injected drugs crucial to hospital operations have become a crisis, disrupting patient care and even resulting in some deaths. Some secondary drug suppliers are accused of exacerbating the problem by snapping up drugs in short supply and charging huge markups to hospitals. - AP

Verizon blocks Google Wallet

Verizon Wireless is blocking Google's new flagship phone from supporting Google Wallet, an attempt to make the smartphone the credit card of the future. Verizon Wireless says it's waiting to provide a wallet application until it can offer "the best security and user experience." Verizon and rivals AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA are part of a consortium called ISIS that is planning its own payment system. The new Galaxy Nexus from Samsung is the first to run a new version of Android, dubbed "Ice Cream Sandwich," due out soon. - AP

BofA to pay $315M to settle claims

Bank of America agreed to pay $315 million to settle claims by investors that they were misled about mortgage-backed investments sold by its Merrill Lynch unit. The settlement was disclosed in court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan and requires the approval of a judge. The class-action lawsuit was led by the Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi pension fund. The fund claimed that the investments were backed by poor-quality mortgages written by the subprime lenders Countrywide Financial Corp., First Franklin Financial, and IndyMac Bancorp, a bank that failed in 2008. - AP

Merck sets up R&D in China

The drugmaker Merck & Co., which has a plant in West Point, Montgomery County, is setting up a new research-and- development headquarters for Asia in Beijing. The company said that the center's first phase, set to be completed by 2014, would have capacity for about 600 employees who will be working on discovering potential new drugs, testing them in the lab and then people, getting regulatory approval, and doing other research programs. Merck says the new center is part of its $1.5 billion commitment to invest in such work in China over the next five years. - AP

LaHood says Volt is safe

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the Chevy Volt is safe to drive even though the government is investigating fires caused by damage to the electric car's battery. LaHood told reporters that his department wasn't trying to protect Volt maker General Motors Co. from possible repercussions from the investigation. LaHood says his department isn't in the business of protecting the automobile industry. Transportation officials launched a formal safety investigation after a Volt damaged in government crash-testing and two similarly damaged Volt battery packs set off fires. - AP

EU to probe Apple on e-book pricing

The European Union's antitrust watchdog is probing whether Apple Inc. helped five major publishing houses illegally raise prices for e-books when it launched its iPad tablet and iBookstore in 2010. The probe, announced by the European Commission, offers a glimpse into the fierce fight for share of the growing e-book market as Apple tries to take on Amazon Inc. and its Kindle e-book reader. It also highlights the struggle for profits between retailers and publishers, as more and more readers download books electronically. - AP

Copps to retire from FCC

Michael Copps, a longtime Democrat on the Federal Communications Commission, said he's retiring by year's end. Copps, a vocal critic of media consolidation, has been a commissioner since May 2001. He did not give a reason in his public resignation letter. He said he still plans to speak about broadband expansion and other issues as a private citizen. Last year, Copps was the only commissioner to vote against Comcast Corp.'s takeover of NBCUniversal, saying the deal "confers too much power in one company's hands."

His departure would leave two Democrats and one Republican on the FCC, with two vacancies. President Obama has nominated two to fill the seats. - AP