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Business news in brief

In the Region

Corzine disputes allegation

Jon S. Corzine disputed an allegation that he knew about customer money that may have been transferred to a European affiliate just before MF Global collapsed. Corzine, the former New Jersey governor and ex-MF Global CEO, told a House panel he did not know about "the use of customer funds on any loan or transfer." Corzine made his first public appearance since Terrence Duffy, the CME Group Inc. executive chairman, alleged that Corzine might have known about the $175 million transfer. About $1.2 billion of client money disappeared when MF Global filed for bankruptcy. - AP

Synthes shareholders OK sale to J&J

Synthes Inc. shareholders, meeting at the medical-device maker's headquarters in Solothurn, Switzerland, voted to approve the proposal by Johnson & Johnson to take over Synthes for $21.3 billion in cash and stock. Synthes has facilities and a U.S. headquarters in Chester County. The companies hope to close the deal in the first half of 2012. The European Union is reviewing the deal and set an April 2 deadline to rule on the acquisition, which would be the largest in the history of J&J. - David Sell

CardioNet settles IPO lawsuit

CardioNet Inc., of Conshohocken, said it agreed to settle a proposed class-action lawsuit over its 2008 initial public offering and a subsequent stock offering for $7.25 million. The suit, filed by the West Palm Beach Police Pension Fund, had alleged the company made false statements about Medicare and insurance reimbursement rates for its heart-monitoring equipment in the run-up to the two stock offerings. Shares have since tanked. - Reid Kanaley

Norcrosses donate $5M to Cooper

Sandra and George Norcross said they were giving $5 million to Cooper University Hospital, which is in the midst of a $600 million expansion project. George Norcross, a Democratic power broker in South Jersey, is chair of Cooper's board. Cooper will break ground on a new Cooper Cancer Institute next spring. Cooper Medical School of Rowan University was recently accredited. - Stacey Burling

Penney's is planned for Franklin Mills

J.C. Penney plans to open a department store at Franklin Mills Mall in March at the same location where, until earlier this year, it had operated a Penney's outlet store that shut down as part of a nationwide realignment by the retailer, mall officials announced. Penney's will remodel the site of its former outlet after renovating the interior into a modern, 100,000-square-foot department store at the discount-oriented megamall in Far Northeast Philadelphia. The announcement was made by Indianapolis- based mall owner Simon Property Group Inc. - Maria Panaritis

Rita's ice has new CEO

Rita's Franchise Co., the water-ice chain based in Trevose, said it named Jonathan Fornaci as president and chief executive officer, effective immediately. Fornaci, former president of California-based Straw Hat Pizza, replaces interim CEO Thomas Christopoul, an operating partner at Falconhead Capital L.L.C., which took a controlling stake in Rita's earlier this month. Rita's has 550 locations in 18 states. - Reid Kanaley

Willow Grove shopping center sold

The Real Estate Equity Co. L.L.C., of Englewood, N.J., bought a 71,000-square- foot shopping center at 1130 Easton Road in Willow Grove for $14.6 million from Goodman Properties in Jenkintown, the buyer, called Treeco, said. The property, built in 1996 and known as the Willowman Center, according to the Goodman website, has a Best Buy and a Pier 1 Imports. - Harold Brubaker

Price increases at Air Products

Air Products & Chemicals Inc., of Allentown, said it will increase prices for liquid and bulk helium gases in North America primarily due to supply shortages. The company did not give specific price information. It said adjustments were being communicated directly to customers. - Reid Kanaley


Draghi to Europe: 'No external savior'

European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said there's "no external savior" for heavily indebted governments in the eurozone and gave no indication the bank is ready to step in and support their finances. Investors had hoped the ECB would increase its support for financially weak countries like Italy with bigger purchases of their government bonds. But Draghi said governments need to take steps to balance budgets and reform economies to promote growth. Draghi

said the European Financial Stability Facility, the current EU bailout fund, would serve as the "fire wall" against the crisis. - AP

Morgan Stanley to cut 1,600 jobs

Morgan Stanley will cut about 1,600 jobs across all levels of company, becoming the latest bank to slash payrolls against a backdrop of extreme volatility in financial markets. The cuts, which amount to 2.6 percent of the bank's workforce, will be made in the first three months of 2012, a spokesman for the New York investment bank said. The bank had more than 62,000 employees as of the end of September. - AP

China firm to pay drywall claims

A Chinese drywall manufacturer has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to resolve court claims by thousands of Gulf Coast property owners who say the product corroded pipes and wires and otherwise wrecked their homes, the largest settlement of its kind so far. The deal announced by U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon calls for Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. to create an uncapped fund to pay for repairing roughly 4,500 properties, mostly in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. - AP

Half of hormone lawsuits resolved

Pfizer Inc. and its Wyeth and Pharmacia & Upjohn units have resolved about 46 percent of suits that claimed the companies' hormone-replacement medicines, including Prempro and Premarin, caused breast cancer, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Pfizer said it added $68 million to the $772 million it already reserved for the cases. The filing indicates Pfizer has settled almost 5,000 suits. - Bloomberg News

Plan to fix pay for home-care workers

The Obama administration announced a plan to extend minimum-wage and overtime protections to home health-care workers, a move that would boost living standards for nearly two million domestic employees but could mean higher costs for the elderly and disabled. Currently, 29 states do not require minimum wage or overtime for home health-care workers. Such workers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are covered by existing law. - AP