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Business news in brief

Business news from around the region and elsewhere.


Jazz buys Eusa Pharma

Jazz Pharmaceuticals P.L.C. will acquire Eusa Pharma Inc., which has its U.S. headquarters in Bucks County, for $650 million in cash. Founded in 2006, Eusa employs about 180 at its offices in Langhorne; Oxford, United Kingdom; and Lyon, France. Bryan Morton, who is founder, president and CEO of Eusa, will remain with the company, according to a statement issued by the companies. Under the terms of the transaction, an additional $50 million cash payment would be made once Eusa's lead product, Erwinaze, attains an undisclosed U.S. net sales target in 2013. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration last November, Erwinaze is used to treat patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. — Mike Armstrong

PUC seeks answers on gas regulation

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission wants answers from a court before it moves forward with its role in carrying out Pennsylvania's new law regulating the rapid growth of natural gas exploration. The utility commission said it is seeking an explanation about the scope of a Commonwealth Court judge's injunction in a lawsuit challenging a portion of the law. Agency spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher says it's delaying deadlines to finalize paperwork that local governments and companies will use to report to it. But Kocher says she doesn't expect a delay on the Sept. 1 deadline to collect new fees on gas wells. The agency is responsible to collect and distribute the fee revenue and review the legality of local ordinances that affect oil or gas operations. — AP

Stevens stepping down at Lockheed

Lockheed Martin Corp., which has large operations in the Philadelphia region, said chief executive Bob Stevens plans to step down and that its president and chief operating officer, Chris Kubasik, will take on the role at the start of the new year. The announcement came as the aerospace and defense contractor reports its first-quarter earnings climbed 26 percent on a 6 percent rise in revenue. Stevens, 60, has served as CEO of the Maryland-based company since 2004 and has worked there for 25 years. He will stay on as chairman through January 2014, subject to shareholder and board approval, the company said. Kubasik, 51, has served with Stevens in the executive office of the chairman since October 2011. — AP

Ametek acquires German company

Electronic-device maker Ametek Inc., of Berwyn, said it agreed to acquire the parent company of Dunkermotoren GmbH, a privately held German firm that expects 2012 sales of about $200 million. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Ametek has annual sales of about $3.3 billion. It expects the deal to close by July 1. — Inquirer staff

Prison sentences in Le-Nature's scheme

The wife of the former head of defunct Western Pennsylvania soft drink maker Le-Nature's Inc. has been sentenced to just more than four years in prison for her role in laundering millions of stolen money through jewels later sold at auction. Karla Podlucky, 50, was taken into custody after Senior U.S. District Judge Alan Bloch announced the sentence. Earlier in the day, her son, Jesse Podlucky, 31, was sentenced to nine years for his role. Both were convicted of money laundering in November for their role in selling $2.8 million worth of gems through Sotheby's in New York. The jewels were bought with money that ex-CEO Gregory Podlucky took in an accounting scheme that bankrupted the Latrobe company. Gregory Podlucky was handed a 20-year sentence in October. — AP


Jobless benefits number disappoints

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits remained stuck near a three-month high last week, a sign that job gains will likely remain modest. The report disappointed economists, who had forecast a decline in unemployment applications. Last week, applications for unemployment aid dipped to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the Labor Department said. That was little changed from the previous week's figure, the highest since Jan. 7. — AP

Chrysler quarterly profit at 13-year high

Chrysler posted its highest quarterly profit in 13 years at $473 million. Revenue was up 25 percent to $16.4 billion. Strong U.S. sales were up 39 percent over the first quarter of last year. Top sellers include the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ram pickup and Chrysler 200 midsize sedan. CEO Sergio Marchionne said everything looks positive for the rest of the year. Chrysler reiterated its prediction of $1.5 billion in net income for the full year. — AP

S&P lowers Spain's credit rating

Standard & Poor's says it is lowering Spain's long-term credit rating by two notches, saying the country's budget problems are likely to get worse because of its weak economy. S&P said that it thinks Spain's government will have to give further support to the banking sector. The agency is downgrading Spain's long-term sovereign credit rating to "BBB+" from "A." It's also lowering the short-term rating and assigning a negative outlook. — AP

Kindle fires Amazon earnings Inc. posted first-quarter profits that blew by analysts' estimates and caused the company's stock to jump in extended trading. The company said its Kindle Fire tablet remains its best-selling item, but its outlook for revenue growth was slower than expected. Net income in the January-March period came to $130 million, or 28 cents per share. That's down from net income of $201 million, or 44 cents per share, a year ago. The result was still much higher than the 6 cents per share expected by analysts polled by FactSet. Revenue grew 34 percent to $13.18 billion. — AP

Google scolds the FCC

Online giant Google Inc. scolded the Federal Communications Commission for its handling of a recently concluded investigation into the company's collection of e-mails and other personal information transmitted over wireless networks. The FCC fined Google $25,000 earlier this month. The FCC contends that Google "deliberately impeded and delayed" the probe. The company disputes the FCC's reasons for the fine and says the 17-month inquiry would have gone much more quickly if the FCC hadn't dawdled. Despite its misgivings, Google says it decided to pay the fine to close the case. — AP

Aetna shares fall 8%

Shares of Aetna Inc. sank more than 8 percent after the health insurer reported a first-quarter performance that missed Wall Street expectations, and it failed to raise its 2012 earnings forecast. The third-largest U.S. commercial health insurer said earnings fell 13 percent and reaffirmed that it expects 2012 adjusted earnings, which exclude capital gains or losses, of about $5 per share. That falls about 15 cents below analysts' expectations. On the news, Aetna's stock fell $4.05, to close at $45.31, while the Standard and Poor's 500 index rose slightly. — AP