In the Region

Minority-business case settled

The City of Philadelphia said Aramark Correctional Services and Strother Enterprises Inc. will pay a total of $400,000 to settle allegations that the companies circumvented city rules on minority-owned businesses. The no-fault agreement ends a dispute over alleged inaccurate invoices to the city under Philadelphia-based Aramark's food-services contracts with the Philadelphia Prison System. Although Strother, a certified minority-business in Center City that does work for Aramark, performed actual work in connection with prison food services, the city's Office of the Inspector General found that the companies made it appear that Strother performed a larger percentage of the contracted work than it had actually performed. Aramark and Strother denied any wrongdoing. - Inquirer staff

Office-tower mortgage taken over

Winthrop Realty Trust, of Boston, said it paid about $57 million to acquire the non-performing $70 million mortgage on 1515 Market St., a 20-story Center City office building that counts Pennsylvania state courts, Citizens Bank and Temple University among its clients. The building was last purchased for $76 million in 2007, according to city records. The 2007 purchase was undertaken by Philadelphia-based Stockton Real Estate Advisors in partnership with national lender CBRE Realty Finance. - Joseph N. DiStefano

American pilots still want merger

American Airlines pilots said their CEO is making his case for remaining an independent company, but the union still wants a merger with US Airways, which is the dominant carrier at Philadelphia International Airport. The union said its board will meet with US Airways' top two executives next week. CEO Thomas Horton met for three hours on Thursday with directors of the Allied Pilots Association. Union spokesman Dennis Tajer says Horton detailed his plan for American's parent company, AMR Corp., to emerge from bankruptcy protection on its own. American is the nation's third-biggest airline and US Airways is fifth-biggest. Combined they would be about the same size as industry leader United Airlines. - AP

Unisys wins Nutreco contract

Unisys Corp., of Blue Bell, said its Dutch subsidiary won a contract to provide data center support services in 14 languages to 6,000 employees of Netherlands-based Nutreco NV, a producer of animal feeds. Financial terms were not disclosed. Unisys, an information-technology provider, has annual revenue of about $3.7 billion. - Reid Kanaley

Two Pa. coal mines idled

A southwestern Pennsylvania coal company is idling two of its mines and laying off 138 workers, but it hopes things will get better next year. PBS Coals' announcement comes on the heels of a July announcement that it had laid off 225 workers. Before those layoffs, PBS had roughly 1,000 employees. Now, the Roytown and Hart mines about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh will be idled, too, leaving the company with about 600 employees. PBS Coals Inc. spokeswoman Lori Mason said the company has been hurt by the weak global steel market. - AP


UBS may pay $1B in rate-rig case

UBS AG, Switzerland's biggest bank, may be fined more than $1 billion by U.S. and U.K. regulators for trying to rig global interest rates, more than double the amount levied against Barclays P.L.C., according to a person familiar with the probe. The fines from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.K. Financial Services Authority, and the U.S. Department of Justice may be announced as early as next week, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information isn't public. Global authorities are investigating claims that more than a dozen banks altered submissions used to set benchmarks such as the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) to profit from bets on interest-rate derivatives or make the lenders' finances appear healthier. - Bloomberg News

Sprint offers $2.1B Clearwire deal

Sprint Nextel Corp. has offered to buy out the minority shareholders of Clearwire Corp. for $2.1 billion in a deal that would give it total control of the flailing company and also more space on the airwaves for data services. Sprint said in a regulatory filing that it's offering $2.90 per share for the 49 percent of the wireless network operator that it doesn't already own. Clearwire's board hasn't approved the sale, but said it's in discussions with Sprint. Clearwire shares jumped 15 percent to $3.16, suggesting that investors believe a better offer may be coming. - AP

Mortgage rates decline for week

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week near record lows, providing more incentive for Americans to buy homes and refinance. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate on the 30-year loan dipped to 3.32 percent. That's below last week's rate of 3.34 percent. And it's just above the 3.31 percent, the lowest rate on records dating to 1971. The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage declined to 2.66 percent from 2.67 percent last week. The record low is 2.63 percent. - AP

Board changes at Yahoo

Yahoo Inc. is adding a new director and parting ways with two other board members in the latest shake-up of the Internet company's hierarchy. PayPal co-founder Max Levchin joins Yahoo's board while Intuit CEO Brad Smith and Weather Channel CEO David Kenny step down. The changes pare Yahoo's board to 11 directors. All but one of them, former accounting executive Sue James, have joined Yahoo's board this year. The overhaul is part of an effort to bring in new ideas. Yahoo hired former Google Inc. executive Marissa Mayer five months ago to orchestrate a turnaround. - AP

Retail sales up 0.3 percent

U.S. consumers shook off Superstorm Sandy last month and stepped up holiday shopping, helped by a steady job market and lower gas prices. Retail sales rose 0.3 percent in November from October, reversing the previous month's decline. Sales increased mostly because Americans spent more online, bought more electronics, and began to replace cars and rebuild after the storm. A sharp drop in gas prices moderated the overall increase. Excluding gas stations, retail sales rose a solid 0.8 percent, according to the Commerce Department report. - AP