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Business news in brief

In the Region

Zipcar to expand network to PHL

Zipcar Inc., the national car-sharing network based in Cambridge, Mass., announced Thursday that it was expanding to eight airports, including Philadelphia International. The cars, which can be reserved by members online at, will be available to rent by the hour or the day, starting Wednesday. Zipcars will be parked in the Avis pickup facility. The company, a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group Inc., said travelers with long flight delays and layovers, rather than sitting in the airport for hours, can reserve Zipcars to explore the area. Zipcar members who have reserved cars can swipe in and drive away with no lines or paperwork. Zipcars are now at Newark, LaGuardia, and John F. Kennedy airports. - Linda Loyd

Sequester affects 1Q revenue at CDI

Federal budget cuts due to sequestration affected revenues at CDI Corp., Philadelphia, an engineering and technology project and staffing company. "We were surprised by the swiftness and the magnitude of the spending cuts, which led to reductions during the month of March," chief executive Paulett Eberhart said during an investors' conference call Thursday. First-quarter revenues declined 4 percent, from $280.6 million in 2012 to $269.5 million, in the period ending March 31. Net income dropped from $3.8 million, or 20 cents per share, in 2012's first quarter to $2.5 million, or 13 cents per share, in the 2013 first quarter. While revenue from oil, gas, and chemical projects was up, it was not enough to offset a decline in government-services business, the company said. - Jane M. Von Bergen

Shire cuts sales forecast for 2013

Shire P.L.C. cut its full-year sales forecast after first-quarter revenue missed analysts' estimates. Shire, whose U.S. headquarters is in Malvern, said it expected sales to grow by a percentage in the mid- to high single digits, compared with an earlier forecast of low double digits. Sales in the quarter were $1.16 billion. Revenue from the skin substitute Dermagraft plunged as the company took an impairment charge and replaced more than 90 percent of the product's sales force after a Justice Department investigation into U.S. sales practices.

- Bloomberg News

Pa. help for Berks battery plant

Gov. Corbett's office says it is offering taxpayers' money to help to finance the construction of a battery-manufacturing plant in Lyon Station, Berks County, expected to employ 400 people. The governor's office said Thursday it was offering grants, reimbursements, and tax credits of almost $1.5 million, plus $11 million, in low-interest loans, to East Penn Manufacturing for the 458,000-square-foot plant. - AP

Gross slots revenue dips in Pa.

Gross revenue from slot machines at Pennsylvania's 11 casinos declined for the fifth straight month in April, down 4 percent from the same period the year before, state gambling regulators reported Thursday. Casinos brought in $205.2 million in gross revenue from slots last month, or about $9 million less than the previous April, according to figures released by the state Gaming Control Board. The only casino to see significant slots growth during the period was Valley Forge Casino Resort, which opened outside Philadelphia in March 2012. Last month, it reported $5.4 million in gross slots revenue, up nearly 34 percent from the previous April, its first full month in operation. Harrah's Philadelphia in Chester was down 8 percent, third worst of the 11. - AP

$1.5B term loan for malls' owner

General Growth Properties Inc., the Chicago-based real estate investment trust that owns 124 U.S. shopping centers, including Neshaminy Mall in Bucks County and Christiana Mall in Newark, Del., received a $1.5 billion term loan to refinance 16 of its properties. The three-year loan has an interest rate of 2.5 percentage points more than the London Interbank Offered Rate, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction. RBC Capital Markets and U.S. Bank arranged the bank debt, the company said in a statement. - Bloomberg News

Early Easter hits Rite Aid revenue

Rite Aid's revenue from established stores slipped 4 percent last month, as an earlier Easter and new generic drugs hurt sales for the nation's third-largest drugstore chain. The Camp Hill, Pa., company said Thursday that pharmacy revenue from stores open at least a year fell 4.2 percent compared with the same period last year. Revenue from the front end, or rest of the store, fell 3.5 percent. Revenue from stores open at least a year is considered a key indicator of retailer health because it leaves out results from locations that have opened or closed in the last year. Total revenue for the month fell 4.6 percent, to $1.9 billion. Rite Aid operated 4,619 stores at April's end, trailing only Walgreen and CVS Caremark. - AP


Two get nod for U.S. economic posts

President Obama chose two old friends with corporate executive experience for top posts on his economic team Thursday, naming longtime fund-raiser and Hyatt Hotel heiress Penny Pritzker as commerce secretary and Michael Froman as U.S. trade representative. Froman, deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs and a law school classmate of Obama's, previously worked as an executive at Citigroup. Pritzker's family's ownership of a thrift that failed in 2001 because of risky mortgage loans is considered likely to become an issue during the confirmation process in the Senate. - AP

N.Y. court: Towns can ban fracking

A midlevel New York state appeals court says municipalities can use zoning laws to ban the use of hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas. The four-judge Appellate Division panel in Albany ruled unanimously Thursday that state mining and drilling law does not trump local governments' authority to control land use. The case of Norse Energy Corp.'s challenge to a ban in the Tompkins County town of Dryden has been closely watched by companies hoping to drill in New York's piece of the Marcellus Shale and opponents of the technology known as fracking. Environmentalists fear drilling could threaten water supplies and public health. In a separate ruling based on the Dryden decision, the court upheld a ban in Middlefield, Otsego County. A message left for Norse's lawyer was not immediately returned. - AP