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Business news in brief

In the Region

$500,000 to small-business center

Wells Fargo & Co.

, which has the most deposits and the most bank branches in the Philadelphia region, said Monday that it was giving the Wharton Small Business Development Center at the University of Pennsylvania $500,000 to help entrepreneurs start and expand businesses. The five-year grant will be used to support the center's courses and consulting programs. The Wharton Center said it had worked with 25,000 businesses over 30 years.

- Harold Brubaker

SEC sues in Stiefel Labs stock case

Stiefel Laboratories Inc.

and former chairman Charles Stiefel have been sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for buying back stock from employees without disclosing key information, including acquisition talks with

GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C.

, which has significant operations in the Philadelphia region. The SEC said Stiefel and his Coral Gables, Fla., company defrauded shareholders out of more than $110 million by using low valuations for stock buybacks from November 2006 to April 2009. "Stiefel denies that it or Charlie Stiefel acted improperly or did anything to violate the securities laws," Glaxo said in a statement.

- Bloomberg News

Pfizer authorizes share buyback

Pfizer Inc.

, which has major operations in the Philadelphia area, authorized a new share-buyback program for as much as $10 billion as Lipitor lost about 15 percent of its market in the first week the cholesterol pill faced generic competition. The quarterly dividend was increased from 20 to 22 cents. Pfizer lost U.S. patent protection on Lipitor, its biggest seller, at the end of last month. Generic versions of the drug accounted for about 15 percent of the Lipitor market in the week ended Dec. 2, according to a report from analyst Chris Schott, at

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

- Bloomberg News

Newspaper firm files for Chapter 11

Lee Enterprises Inc.

, publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and more than 40 other daily papers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday in Wilmington as part of a previously announced refinancing plan. Lee, based in Davenport, Iowa, has said it expects to emerge from the bankruptcy within 60 days. Most of Lee's debt results from its $1.46 billion acquisition of Pulitzer Inc. in 2005.

- AP


U.S. deficit on pace to be lower

The federal government is on pace to run a deficit below $1 trillion for the first time in four years. The Treasury Department said Monday that the deficit was $137 billion in October, which brings the total for the first two months of the current budget year to $236 billion - $55 billion less than the same two months last year. The government is on pace to end the year $973 billion in the red, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But partial credit goes to an accounting quirk: The CBO estimate does not include an extension of the Social Security tax cut and emergency unemployment benefits. Congress is likely to extend both before they expire at year's end, which could push the deficit back above $1 trillion if those programs are not offset.

- AP

Report: Speculators drove bubble

A new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that speculative real estate investors played a larger role than originally thought in driving the housing bubble that led to record foreclosures and sent economies plummeting in several states. More than a third of all U.S. home mortgages granted in 2006 went to people who already owned at least one house, according to the report. In Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada, where average home prices more than doubled from 2000 to 2006, investors made up nearly half of all mortgage-backed purchases during the housing bubble.

- AP

AT&T, Justice postpone antitrust trial

AT&T Inc.

and the Justice Department agreed Monday to put off an antitrust trial over the phone company's proposed acquisition of smaller rival

T-Mobile USA Inc.

while the wireless carriers determine the fate of the deal. The $39 billion deal is under increasing government opposition, with analysts now giving it a slim chance of going through. In a statement, AT&T said it and T-Mobile's parent company,

Deutsche Telekom AG

, want the delay "to allow the companies time to evaluate all options."

- AP

Dish Network plans online service

Satellite-television provider

Dish Network Corp.

is working on an online service that would expand competition with cable companies, chief executive officer Joseph Clayton said Monday. Dish, based in Englewood, Colo., bought the Blockbuster Inc. video chain out of bankruptcy in April and currently offers an online film service under that name to its satellite customers. Clayton also said Dish might partner with

T-Mobile USA Inc.


AT&T Inc.'s

takeover bid fails. Dish acquired wireless spectrum this year as part of deals for bankrupt

DBSD North America Inc.


Terrestar Networks Inc.

- Bloomberg News

Realtors group to revise sales data

National home-sales figures will be lowered dating back to 2007, the National Association of Realtors said, because the numbers were too high. The trade group said it would release the downward revisions for previously occupied homes Dec. 21. Among reasons for the inflated figures: changes in the way the Census Bureau collects data, population shifts, and sales being counted twice. CoreLogic Inc., a Santa Ana, Calif., real estate data firm, raised doubts about the annual numbers earlier this year.

- AP

Comcast to carry BBC World News

The BBC will announce Tuesday a first-of-its-kind deal for

Comcast Corp.

, Philadelphia, to carry the BBC World News channel, opening the door to wider distribution for the channel within the United States. BBC World News will be available by the end of the month in some, but not all, of the Comcast homes in Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston, and other markets. The goal is nearly 15 million homes by the end of 2012.

- N.Y. Times News Service

Software update for Kindle Fire

Internet retailer Inc.

said it would release a software update for the Kindle Fire tablet to improve performance, make touch navigation easier, and let users choose which items are displayed. The update will be available online in less than two weeks, Seattle-based Amazon said in an e-mailed statement. Users have complained on Amazon's website that the screen is difficult to navigate, scrolling is "jittery," and there is no way to lock the device to keep others from using it.

- Bloomberg News