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Business news in brief

In the Region

Bekkedam sued by SEC

Barry Bekkedam, who founded the former Main Line investment advisory firm Ballamor Capital Management L.L.C., "fraudulently induced, or assisted in inducing" clients and others to invest $100 million in a fund run by "now-convicted Ponzi-schemer Scott Rothstein," the Philadelphia office of the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged Wednesday in a federal civil lawsuit. Rothstein was convicted of fraud in 2010, and is serving a 50-year sentence. Christopher R. Hall, an attorney for Bekkedam, said he and his client had no immediate comment. Bekkedam, formerly of Villanova, now lives in Hobe Sound, Fla. He previously said he was a victim of the Ponzi scheme. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Utility to boost spending

Aqua Pennsylvania, the state operating subsidiary of Bryn Mawr-based Aqua America Inc., announced it would spend $230 million in infrastructure improvements in 2014, compared with $216 million in 2013. About $124 million will be spent in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties. Infrastructure improvements are critical to maintaining aging water systems, but also to improving a utility's earnings because they typically are allowed to recover the costs from ratepayers. - Andrew Maykuth

Auxilium shares fall 18 percent

Shares of Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Chesterbrook, fell 17.73 percent, to $22.51 after the company scaled back its financial guidance for 2014 due to falling revenues from its Testim gel for testosterone replacement. The company said it now expected 2014 revenue in the range of $380 million to $420 million, compared with an earlier estimate of $450 million to $490 million. It said net income would likely be between zero and a loss of $15 million, down from a projected profit of $45 million to $50 million. The company said pressure on Testim sales was related to growing concern, and litigation, over possible health risks of testosterone replacement therapies. - Reid Kanaley

Moody's warns on N.J. budget

Despite evidence to the contrary, New Jersey is budgeting as if its economy will grow more than 5 percent this year - which has compounded the risks and limited New Jersey's options for balancing the state budget, Moody's Investors Services analyst Baye Larsen warned. Last month, the Standard & Poor's agency cut New Jersey's debt rating to A-plus, lower than any state but California and Illinois. Moody's rates New Jersey a notch higher than S&P does, at Aa3, but is also considering a downgrade. The lower the rating, the more a borrower typically has to pay in interest. Moody's is also threatening to downgrade Pennsylvania for failing to match taxes to spending. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Lenders curb predatory loans

Paramount Capital Group Inc., of West Conshohocken, is among four companies that agreed to stop making predatory medical loans in New York, according to a settlement announced by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Paramount and other companies were accused of "financing retail installment obligations at usurious rates of interest, ranging up to 55 percent," Schneiderman's office said. The companies agreed to recast the loans with an interest rate of no more than 16 percent and to provide refunds or credits totaling $230,000. An official at Paramount, which says on its website that it finances elective cosmetic surgery and dental procedures, did not respond to request for comment. - Harold Brubaker

Wind power for Mars

Mars Inc., the McLean, Va., candy maker, said it made a deal with Exton-based BNB Renewable Energy and Sumitomo Corp. of Americas to build a 200-megawatt wind farm that will reduce the carbon footprint of Mars' U.S. operations. Mars has 70 facilities employing 25,000. The 118-turbine Mesquite Creek Wind farm will be near Lamesa, Texas. BNB said it has also been developing alternative-energy plants for Campbell Soup and other companies. - Joseph N. DiStefano


J&J halts device sale

Johnson & Johnson is halting sales of devices used to remove growths in the uterus following a government warning that the electronic surgical tools can inadvertently spread cancer to other parts of the body. The announcement came one week after the Food and Drug Administration discouraged doctors from using the devices, known as laparoscopic power morcellators. J&J said that three of its products have always included language cautioning doctors about the risk. - AP

ADP sees April job gains

Payroll processer ADP said private employers added 220,000 jobs in April, the most since November and up from 209,000 in March. The figures suggest that the government's jobs report for April, to be released Friday, could show a healthy gain. Economists forecast that report will show employers added 210,000 jobs in April, according to a survey by FactSet. - AP