Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Business news in brief

In the Region

Two injured in W.Va. Airgas blast

Two workers were injured when gas being stored at a West Virginia industrial site operated by Airgas Inc. exploded, officials say. Airgas is headquartered in Radnor. Fire crews were sent at about 3:20 p.m. to the Airgas facility in Poca, outside of Charleston. Putnam County's emergency management director Frank Chapman said the explosion involved about 50 tanks of acetylene that were at Airgas waiting to be refilled. What caused the tanks to explode wasn't known, and the fire was out. Chapman said the blast would have been much worse if the tanks were filled. He said both workers suffered second and third-degree burns. Chapman said the cause of the explosion is being investigated and that the blasts and fire were the first problem he knows to be reported at Airgas. - AP

New Amtrak locomotive rolls off line

The first of 70 new Amtrak locomotives rolled off a Sacramento assembly line Monday, and it will begin operating this fall on the Northeast Corridor and the Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg. The electric "Cities Sprinter" locomotives, being built by Siemens Rail Systems for $466 million, will replace locomotives that have been in service for 25 to 35 years. Amtrak borrowed the money from the Federal Railroad Administration and says it will repay the money from NEC revenues. The locomotives are designed to be more energy efficient than the existing fleet, but they will not travel at higher speeds. On the Northeast Corridor, they will travel up to 125 miles per hour, and on the Keystone Corridor, up to 110 miles per hour.
- Paul Nussbaum

Drug distributor competes unit sale

Prescription drug distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp., of Valley Forge, said it completed the $308 million sale of its pharmaceutical packaging business, AndersonBrecon, to an investment group led by health-care investor Frazier Healthcare. AmerisourceBergen said last month that it had agreed to sell the unit. The company said the sale would not affect its financial guidance for the year, as the business had been classified as discontinued operations for the most recent quarter. Late last month AmerisourceBergen reported that its net income sank 78 percent in its most recent quarter as it took a loss on the sale of another division. - AP

Comcast moves up Fortune 500 list

The newest Fortune 500 list has Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. at 46th place, up three from a year ago. Telecommunications peer AT&T Inc. was 11th and Verizon Communications was 16th. DirecTV, the second-largest pay-TV operator, was at 102. Meanwhile, the Walt Disney Co. was 66. The Fortune list is a ranking of publicly traded by annual revenue. - Bob Fernandez

Zipcar expands to Atlantic City

Zipcar Inc., the national car-sharing network that recently expanded to eight airports, including Philadelphia International, announced it will add cars in Atlantic City, starting Wednesday. The cars will be parked at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center hotel next to the train station. Zipcars can be reserved by members online at, and will be available to rent by the hour or the day. The company, a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group Inc., said visitors who want to avoid the traffic this summer, can take the train to Atlantic City and "have access to a set of wheels when they need them."

- Linda Loyd

Canadian start-ups hosted at center

Philadelphia's University City Science Center, in collaboration with the Canadian Consulate General, opened a program called the Canadian Technology Accelerator to provide Canadian entrepreneurs in the health information technology sector with three months of paid working space in the Science Center's business incubator. The program will accommodate six start-ups twice a year. The program is modeled on similar efforts California and New York. Companies in the inaugural class are Caristix, Hospitalis, Infonaut, Memotext, Pulseinfo Frame and Sensory Tech. - Reid Kanaley


$500M in fines for drug adulteration

A subsidiary of India's largest pharmaceutical company agreed to pay a record $500 million in fines and penalties for selling adulterated drugs and lying to federal regulators in a case that is part of an ongoing crackdown on the quality of generic drugs flowing into the U.S. Federal prosecutors said the guilty plea by Ranbaxy USA Inc. represents the largest financial penalty against a generic drug company for violations of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which prohibits the sale of impure drugs. - AP

Court: Farmer violated seed patents

The Supreme Court said that an Indiana farmer violated Monsanto Co.'s patents on soybean seeds that are resistant to its weed-killer by growing additional crops without buying new beans. The justices unanimously rejected the farmer's argument that cheap soybeans he bought from a grain elevator are not covered by the Monsanto patents, even though most of them also were genetically modified to resist the company's Roundup herbicide. In 2007, Monsanto sued the farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, and won an $84,456 judgment. - AP

GM takes steps to fix recall glitches

General Motors Co. said a new supercomputing data center and a fledgling shift to bring software development in-house should help it limit the size of future safety recalls. The Detroit automaker formally opened the giant data storage center in suburban Warren, Mich., on Monday. The changes mean problems are spotted quickly when they crop up across the globe, and they're assigned to the right engineer who can work with parts makers to fix the problem faster, said Randy Mott, the company's chief information officer. - AP