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Business news in brief

In the Region

PGW bumps gas rate by 3.5 pct.

Philadelphia Gas Works said its residential natural gas rate increased on Dec. 1 by 3.5 percent, from $1.41 per hundred cubic feet to $1.46. PGW, which serves city customers, and Peco Energy Co., which last week announced a rate increase for suburban natural gas customers, say the increases reflect the growing commodity cost of natural gas since it hit historic lows in April. Both utilities said that, despite the increases, their rates are still lower than they were a year ago. - Andrew Maykuth

Credit agencies raise DRPA's outlook

Standard & Poor's Rating Services and Moody's Investor Service affirmed their existing ratings of the bonds of the Delaware River Port Authority and revised their forward-looking assessments, in part on the agency's plan to raise bridge tolls every two years. Both rate the DRPA's debt at their fourth-lowest investment grades, A3 and A-, respectively. S&P revised its outlook from "stable" to "positive," while Moody's revised its outlook from "negative" to "stable." The last toll increase was in July 2011, when auto tolls went to $5, from $4. DRPA spokesman Timothy Ireland said Monday: "The tolls will stay where they are for the foreseeable future." - Paul Nussbaum

Atlas Pipeline to buy Dallas firm

Atlas Pipeline Partners L.P., of Philadelphia, said Monday that it will pay $600 million for the operating assets of Cardinal Midstream L.L.C., a private Dallas company that operates natural-gas processing plants and pipelines concentrated in Oklahoma. Atlas will issue 9.25 million common partnership units to fund the deal. The announcement came after markets closed Monday. Atlas units closed at $31.54, down $1.45 or 4.4 percent on the New York Stock Exchange. - Andrew Maykuth

Genesis completes Sun acquisition

Genesis HealthCare Corp., an operator of nursing homes and rehabilitation centers based in Kennett Square, said it completed the acquisition of Sun Healthcare Group Inc. for $304 million, including $89 million of retired debt. Simultaneous with the closing of the deal Saturday, Sun's SolAmor Hospice business was sold to Life Choice Hospice, a provider of in-home hospice care, for $85 million. Genesis' purchase of Sun, based in Irvine, Calif., was announced in June. The combined companies have 422 nursing homes in 29 states and annual revenue of $4.6 billion, Genesis said. The deal did not include Sun's real estate, which is owned by Sabra Health Care REIT Inc. - Harold Brubaker

Equifax to buy credit business

Equifax Inc. agreed to buy Computer Sciences Corp.'s credit-services business for $1 billion in cash, giving the company ownership of a business it had been helping operate since 1988. The shares of both companies gained. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and the proceeds will be used for stock buybacks and to fund the pension plan, Falls Church, Va.-based Computer Sciences said. Computer Sciences has major offices in Newark, Del., and Moorestown. - Bloomberg News

Dow may divest businesses

Dow Chemical Co. plans to sell businesses generating $1 billion of sales as part of an effort to meet earnings goals that have been delayed by slower-than-anticipated global growth. The divestitures, which weren't identified, will help adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rise to $10 billion starting in 2014 or 2015, Dow chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said at a presentation in New York. Dow earned $7.4 billion in the 12 months ended Sept. 30. The chemical giant has large operations in the Philadelphia region following its 2009 purchase of Rohm & Haas Co. - Bloomberg News

Pfizer will lay off sales reps

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. is starting another round of layoffs, targeting U.S. sales representatives who promote Pfizer primary-care medicines to doctors. The New York-based Viagra maker isn't giving details on how many salespeople it employs, how many will leave, or when that will happen. Individual salespeople haven't been notified whether they'll be furloughed. Pfizer, which acquired Wyeth in 2009, consolidated much of its operations in the Philadelphia region. - AP

Oyster Creek nuke plant restarts

The nation's oldest nuclear power plant has been returned to service. The reactor at the Oyster Creek plant in Lacey Township, N.J., was restarted early Monday. It had been offline since late October for a planned refueling and maintenance work. - AP


Extra, extra! News Corp. to split

News Corp. said that its new publishing company will keep the News Corp. name, while its separate media and entertainment company will be renamed Fox Group. The conglomerate announced plans this summer to split into two public companies, one for its publishing business, including the Wall Street Journal and New York Post, and the other for its fast-growing movie and TV operations. Rupert Murdoch will serve as chairman of the new News Corp. and chairman and CEO of Fox Group. As part of the changes, News Corp. said it will cease publication of the Daily, its iPad news application, on Dec. 15. - AP

FDA to work with device group

The Food and Drug Administration said it will collaborate with medical device manufacturers on a public-private partnership designed to speed up the development of new medical technology. The agency said it hopes to offer guidance to the Medical Device Innovation Consortium, a new industry-backed group that aims to simplify the design and testing of medical devices. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg noted that many medical device companies are small businesses and don't have the research budgets to find more effective ways of testing their products. - AP