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Business news in brief

In the Region

PBF will spend $1B on Del. refinery

PBF Holding Company L.L.C. announced it will spend $1 billion to upgrade its Delaware City, Del., refinery to produce ultra-low sulfur distillates, which includes diesel, heating oil and jet fuel. The PBF Clean Fuels Project, which will take three years to complete, involves the installation of equipment that strips 99 percent of the sulfur content from heavy crude oil, which is less expensive than sweet crude. The new equipment can also refine material supplied from PBF's refinery in Paulsboro, N.J. PBF bought the two refineries in 2010 from Valero Energy Corp. - Andrew Maykuth

Teva may buy back $3B in shares

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., which bought Frazer-based Cephalon Inc. this year for $6.8 billion, forecast lackluster profit growth for next year and said it may buy back as much as $3 billion worth of its own shares to return money to investors. Israel-based Teva, whose Nasdaq shares closed down 1.37 percent, reported its first decline in quarterly earnings in four years last month. The plan to return money to shareholders suggests Teva will slow the pace of acquisitions, analysts said. - Bloomberg News

Conditions set for energy merger

Exelon Corp., moved a step closer to acquiring Constellation Energy Group Inc. after the U.S. Justice Department approved the proposed merger on the condition that Exelon sell three power plants in Maryland. The justice department said the combination of Exelon, parent company of Philadelphia's Peco Energy Co., and Constellation, the parent company of Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., could manipulate mid-Atlantic wholesale power prices. The sale of the three plants would resolve the anticompetitive claims. Exelon had already agreed to sell the plants to satisfy the market monitor, PJM Interconnection L.L.C., the regional power pool. Maryland's governor also approved the divestiture this month. The merger still requires the approval of some federal and Maryland regulators. - Andrew Maykuth

Saladworks to open in Singapore

Saladworks, a Conshohocken restaurant franchise with about 100 locations in 12 states, said it signed a 15-store agreement with a franchisee in Singapore. The first location in Singapore is slated to open next year, with two more to follow in 2013, Saladworks said. Saladworks was founded 25 years ago in the Cherry Hill Mall. In early 2008, Commerce Bank founder Vernon W. Hill II became a minority investor. - Harold Brubaker

Rep. backs sports-betting OK for N.J.

U.S. Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.) said he has prepared federal legislation to allow sports betting in New Jersey and other states in expectation that the New Jersey Legislature will pass a bill to allow sports-betting and that Gov. Christie will sign it into law. LoBiondo is cochair of the Congressional Gaming Caucus. A 1992 federal law prohibits sports betting in all but four states - Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware. New Jersey residents last month voted overwhelmingly in favor of a nonbinding referendum to allow sports betting. State legislative approval could come in January. - Suzette Parmley

Realty trust in joint venture

Commercial real estate operator Brandywine Realty Trust, Radnor, said it formed a joint venture with Current Creek Investments L.L.C. to invest in properties in the Washington area. Brandywine is contributing three office properties valued at $156 million to the venture. Both partners also have allocated $75 million in equity "to pursue additional office property investments" in the Washington region, Brandywine said in a prepared statement. Current Creek is a wholly owned subsidiary of Allstate Insurance Co. - Reid Kanaley


New union election rules approved

In a win for organized labor, the National Labor Relations Board approved sweeping new rules that would speed the pace of union elections, making it easier for unions to gain members at companies that have long rebuffed them. Business groups quickly denounced the move, saying it limits the time that employers have to educate workers about the impact of joining a union. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has already filed a federal lawsuit challenging the rules. - AP

BofA in Countrywide settlement

Bank of America Corp. agreed to pay $335 million to resolve allegations that its Countrywide unit engaged in a widespread pattern of discrimination against qualified African American and Hispanic borrowers. The settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, filed with the Central District court of California, is subject to court approval. The DOJ says it's the largest settlement in history over residential fair lending practices. BofA bought the nation's largest subprime lender, Countrywide Financial Corp., in 2008. - AP

U.S. seeks pharma money from Miss.

The U.S. government said Mississippi must turn over $17 million of a $20 million settlement with pharmaceutical companies accused of inflating wholesale prices. State Attorney General Jim Hood told The Clarion-Ledger that Mississippi doesn't owe anything, because the companies paid the federal government under separate settlements. The Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter claiming the money that was paid by GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C., Sanofi-Aventis SA, Warrick Pharmaceuticals and Mylan Inc. - AP

Mudd takes leave after Fannie charge

Former Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd announced he would take a leave of absence from the hedge fund he runs, less than a week after being charged in connection with the 2008 financial crisis. Mudd is one of six former executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, facing civil fraud charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The executives are accused of understating the level of high-risk subprime mortgages that Fannie and Freddie held just before the housing bubble burst. Bailouts of Fannie and Freddie have cost taxpayers more than $150 billion to date. - AP

S.C. judges upholds J&J verdict

A South Carolina judge has upheld a $327 million civil penalty against health giant Johnson & Johnson, which in March was found guilty by a jury of overstating the safety and effectiveness of its former blockbuster antipsychotic drug, Risperdal. Attorneys for the state said that it's the biggest verdict in the country over the marketing of Risperdal. - AP