Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Business news in brief

In the Region

Kwasnik law license suspended in N.J.

The New Jersey State Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended the law license of Philadelphia lawyer Michael Kwasnik, who was charged in a state grand jury indictment in November with stealing $1.1 million from a Cherry Hill widow. Kwasnik had been under investigation by state bar authorities and law enforcement officials for a variety of alleged ethics-code and criminal violations involving his mostly elderly clients. A Cherry Hill-based company for which he had served as general counsel, Liberty State Financial Holdings, filed for bankruptcy in July. Authorities say that the company and its subsidiaries owe investors millions but that it has no money to repay them. Kwasnik was arrested at a bus station in Alabama on Nov. 9, a few days after his indictment. Police say he was carrying cash, maps, a passport, and other documents needed for travel outside the country. Read more at - Chris Mondics

Smit named CEO of Comcast Cable

Neil Smit, a top executive at Comcast Corp., has added the title of chief executive officer of its cable division to his job description. He has been president of the division and will keep that designation as well. Comcast hired Smit in March 2010 and he now heads the company's core cable/Internet/phone businesses and reports to Comcast chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts. - Bob Fernandez

Comcast's Cohen to get award

Comcast Corp. executive vice president David L. Cohen will receive the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's 2011 William Penn Award, the highest honor the group gives to a local business executive. Before joining the media giant in 2002, Cohen, 56, had been chairman of the law firm Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll L.L.P. He was also chief of staff to Ed Rendell when he was Philadelphia's mayor during the '90s. Last year, the award, which has been handed out annually since 1949, was given to Joseph A. Frick, the former CEO of Independence Blue Cross. - Mike Armstrong

Sands CEO opposes online gambling

Sheldon Adelson, the world's richest casino executive and chief of the industry's largest publicly traded company, says he opposes online gambling because he doesn't believe available technology is good enough to prevent young people from making wagers on the Internet, a spokesman said. Adelson's opposition is a personal viewpoint, not a formal stance taken by the company that runs casino-resorts in Bethlehem, Pa., Las Vegas, Macau, and Singapore, Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese said. - AP

Inovio raises $4M

Vaccine developer Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Blue Bell, said it raised $4.0 million as it closed an underwritten public offering of 7.7 million shares of common stock and warrants to purchase up to 5.8 million additional shares. The sales were to five institutional investors, the company said. - Reid Kanaley

Chelten House installs solar system

Chelten House Products Inc., a Gloucester County food processor, said it had installed a solar photovoltaic system on the roof of its 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Bridgeport, N.J. The 877-kilowatt system is expected to provide more than half of the facility's annual electricity needs. The privately held company makes sauces and salad dressings under its own brands, for private labels, and for institutional customers. - Andrew Maykuth


Yahoo wins $627M court judgment

Yahoo Inc. said it won a $627 million court judgment in a scam that tried to dupe people into believing they had won prizes in a bogus lottery sponsored by the Internet company. Yahoo said a New York federal court issued the default judgment. Collecting judgments in such cases can be a frustrating and fruitless exercise because online swindlers are often difficult to find. Yahoo alleged in its lawsuit that the lottery hoax was designed to dupe people into providing passwords and other sensitive personal data. - AP

Panel favors cancer drug's approval

A panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted that the benefits of Pfizer Inc.'s kidney cancer drug, axitinib, outweigh its risks, according to a company spokeswoman. The unanimous vote came despite FDA concerns that the drug's benefit may have been limited to a subset of patients previously treated with other cancer drugs. Pfizer is seeking FDA approval to market the drug for the most common type of kidney cancer. The FDA is expected to make a final decision on the drug early in 2012. - AP

GM workers to get bonuses

General Motors Co., 10 weeks after ratifying a new labor contract with the United Auto Workers, said union hourly employees achieved vehicle-quality targets and will be eligible for as much as $1.2 million in bonuses. The $250 bonus per eligible worker will be paid out in employees' Dec. 16 paychecks, Kim Carpenter, a spokeswoman for the Detroit-based company, said. The "vast majority" of the automaker's 48,500 UAW-represented workers are eligible, she said. - Bloomberg News

Dot 'disaster' predicted by FTC

A plan to add hundreds of Internet domain names beyond .com and .net may be a "disaster," Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz told a House Judiciary subcommittee. The program is more costly than necessary for businesses and would let con artists set up fraudulent websites, Leibowitz said in a hearing. The domain-name system expansion, authorized by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, "could be very harmful," Leibowitz said. The group will start accepting applications for Web suffixes including company and brand names, cities, and words like .book or .shopping, starting Jan. 12 for a three-month window. Applications will cost $185,000 for each domain. General Electric Co. and Johnson & Johnson  are among more than 40 companies  opposed to the expansion. - Bloomberg News

Penney takes share in Martha Stewart

J.C. Penney Co. is buying a minority stake in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. for $38.5 million, the latest move by the department store to attract new customers and perk up lackluster sales. Penney is acquiring a 16.6 percent stake in the media and merchandising company. The Plano, Texas, company will create mini-Martha Stewart shops within its department stores and a joint website. Both brands are aiming to revitalize business. - AP