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Business news in brief

In the Region

Penn Nat. spin-off buys firm

Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc., which was spun off from Penn National Gaming Inc. last month, has announced its first acquisition as a stand-alone company. The Wyomissing, Pa., firm said it had agreed to buy the real estate of Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Ill., for $140 million. The 38,000-square-foot casino sits on a 78-acre property that also includes a 157-room hotel and a full-service recreational-vehicle park, Gaming & Leisure said. It will rent the Casino Queen property back to its operators for $14 million a year and provide a $40 million, five-year loan. Gaming & Leisure assumed ownership of most of Penn National's real estate and has the goal of consolidating real estate holdings in the casino industry. - Harold Brubaker

An acquisition for Thalheimer

Thalheimer Bros., which scraps and ships copper, nickel, stainless steel, and other metals to factories from its 400,000-square-foot plant on 20 acres in the city's Lawncrest section, said it had purchased Ansam Metals, a Baltimore buyer and processor of copper-nickel and other brass, for an undisclosed sum. In a statement, Ansam president Ben Zager said he and his staff looked forward to working with Thalheimer. The deal follows Boston-based Audax Group's investment in Thalheimer in December 2012 in hopes of "penetrating new geographies" and other markets, Audax chief executive officer Geoffrey Rehnert said at the time. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Award against Pfizer stands

The U.S. Supreme Court left intact a $142 million award against Pfizer Inc. and let two similar suits go forward with claims that the drugmaker, which has major operations in Collegeville, defrauded insurers by illegally marketing its Neurontin epilepsy drug. The justices, without comment, rejected Pfizer's appeal Monday, letting stand three connected federal appeals court decisions. The cases are part of the fallout from a 2004 guilty plea by Pfizer's Warner-Lambert unit to charges that it promoted Neurontin for unapproved "off-label'" uses. The rebuff means a nationwide class-action suit can proceed, seeking damages on behalf of insurers, union funds, and employers who paid for ineffective dosages of Neurontin. Pfizer must also defend against a suit by Aetna Inc., which says it paid for more than a million off-label Neurontin prescriptions. In addition, Pfizer lost its challenge to a $142 million jury award won by Kaiser Foundation's health plan and hospitals. - Bloomberg News

Change at White & Williams

White and Williams L.L.P., an insurance-defense firm based in Center City, said Monday that Patricia Santelle has been named managing partner and chair of the firm's executive committee. Santelle, the first woman to head the 230-lawyer firm, replaces former chairman Guy Cellucci, who died Nov. 16.

- Chris Mondics

Bankruptcy attorneys move

Sherman, Silverstein, Kohl, Rose & Podolsky P.A. announced Monday that two bankruptcy attorneys, Arthur J. Abramowitz and Jerrold Poslusny Jr., have joined the firm. Abramowitz is past president of the bankruptcy section of the New Jersey Bar Association. Abramowitz and Poslusny joined Sherman Silverstein, based in Moorestown, from Center City-based Cozen O'Connor. - Chris Mondics


Accelerated recovery forecast

Business economists expect the recovery to accelerate at the end of the year and into 2014. The economy still faces challenges, the National Association for Business Economists said Monday, but most participants in the group's quarterly survey expect there will be enough growth for the Federal Reserve to start reducing a key stimulus program in the first half of next year. The economy will grow 2.1 percent this year, up from a September forecast of 1.9 percent, the economists said. Growth will increase to a 2.8 percent annual rate next year, down slightly from the September median projection of 3 percent. The business economists forecast job growth of nearly 200,000 a month next year. - Los Angeles Times

U.S. sells last GM shares

The U.S. Treasury Department sold its remaining shares in General Motors Co., ending almost five years of government ownership of the nation's largest automaker. Treasury said it had recouped $39 billion from its original $50 billion investment. The exit will end restrictions on executive pay that the company says have hampered recruiting. - Bloomberg News

Accord on racial profiling

Responding to allegations of racial profiling, a coalition of major retailers agreed Monday to create a customer bill of rights that will explicitly prohibit the practice, as well as unreasonable searches. Civil rights leaders met Monday with representatives from retail chains including Barneys, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor, and Gap, the Rev. Al Sharpton said. The agreement, drafted by the Retail Council of New York State, says workers who violate the prohibitions on profiling will be disciplined and could be fired. - AP