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Business news in brief

In the Region

Aramark shares go at $20

Aramark Holdings Corp., a Philadelphia food services and facilities management company, said it priced its initial public offering of 36.25 million shares at $20 per share, the low end of the projected range of $20 to $23 per share. The price means that the sale should net Aramark more than $500 million for the sale of 28 million shares. An additional 8.25 million shares are being sold by existing shareholders, including chairman Joseph Neubauer and the private equity firms that took Aramark private for $6.3 billion in January 2007. The new shares are expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday morning under the ticker symbol "ARMK." - Harold Brubaker

Biotechs join Science Center

Two new biotechnology companies, Targeted Therapeutic Solutions L.L.C. and Innolign Biomedical L.L.C. have begun operations at the University City Science Center's Port business incubator on Market Street. Both firms are part of the University of Pennsylvania's UPstart Program. They will use laboratory and office space at the Science Center to pursue product research and development programs. Each has received early funding from the National Institutes of Health. - Inquirer staff

38% prefer to pay ACA penalty

Thirty-eight percent of Americans would rather pay a fine than buy health insurance, according to a new survey. The report, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, also found that most Americans were uncertain of how much the fines would be. The fines would be the higher of $95 or 1 percent of household income above the filing threshold ($10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for families). Almost eight in 10 Americans who know about fines incorrectly think that children under 18 are exempt from fines. Six in 10 falsely believe that senior citizens over 65 are exempt. Only 64 percent correctly said the fine would come from their federal income tax refund. - Chris Hepp

FDA prefers no animal antibiotics

Citing a potential threat to public health, the Food and Drug Administration is taking steps toward phasing out the use of some antibiotics in animals processed for meat. Many cattle, hog, and poultry producers give their animals antibiotics regularly to ensure that they are healthy and to make the animals grow faster. Now the agency has announced that it will ask pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily stop labeling drugs important for treating human infection as acceptable for growth promotion in animals. Zoetis, which is a leading manufacturer of animal antibiotics and was recently spun out of Pfizer Inc., has said it would comply. Merck, which has a large facility in Montgomery County, also makes animal medication. - Associated Press

Airgas expands in Connecticut

Radnor-based Airgas Inc. said it planned to expand its atmospheric gas production capacity in New England by building a second air separation unit (ASU) in Bozrah, Conn., in order to meet the expected increase in demand for merchant gases. The ASU, which will produce oxygen, nitrogen, and argon, will be operated by Airgas Merchant Gases and is expected to begin production in the fall of 2015. - Inquirer staff

RBS pays $100M on Iran claims

Royal Bank of Scotland, parent company of Citizens Bank, has agreed to pay $100 million to settle claims by U.S. and New York state regulators that it violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and other countries. The U.S. Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, and the office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the settlement Wednesday with the bank, which is 80 percent owned by the British government. It covers alleged violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran, Sudan, Burma, and Cuba from 2005 to 2009. The regulators said RBS channeled about $523 million in transactions to other banks for clients from those countries and concealed the clients' identities in the paperwork. RBS said in a statement it has cooperated fully with the regulators in their investigation "and deeply regrets these failings." - AP


Fed contractors violate labor rules

The federal government awards billions of dollars in contracts each year to companies that routinely violate safety, health, and wage regulations, according to a report released Wednesday that calls for stricter measures to hold federal contractors accountable. The study from Democratic leaders on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee found that nearly 30 percent of companies hit with the highest penalties for federal labor law violations from 2007 to 2012 were also federal contractors. - AP

Hilton IPO brings in $2.35B

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., the hotel company that went private in 2007, on Wednesday priced its initial public offering at $20 per share. The company and a shareholder sold 117.6 million shares, about five million more than originally planned, for a total take of $2.35 billion. The payoff surpasses the $2.1 billion generated by Twitter's IPO last month. Hilton is the world's largest hotel group, with 665,667 rooms across 90 countries and territories. - AP