In the Region

Pa. pension board picks leader

The board of the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System, which represents nearly 230,000 members and manages about $28 billion, removed the interim label and named Thomas Brier chief investment officer. After serving as deputy since 2010, Brier became the acting leader of the fund following the departure of Anthony Clark in December 2013. The board released financial results Wednesday and voted to give management raises. - Inquirer staff

SEPTA sues drugmaker

SEPTA has sued drugmaker Gilead Sciences in federal court in Philadelphia over allegations of price gouging for the controversial hepatitis C drug Sovaldi. Because the once-a-day pill's ease of use and effectiveness has created demand, Gilead has used its monopoly position to charge U.S. patients $1,000 per pill, or $84,000 for the usual 12-week regimen. U.S. patent laws provide such market exclusivity. The cost has created a storm of criticism, including pushback from insurers and congressional hearings. Gilead charges less in other countries. The Haverford-based law firm of Chimicles & Tikellis seeks class-action status for the suit filed on behalf of SEPTA, which has spent more than $2.4 million in 2014 on Sovaldi for employees with hepatitis C, according to the complaint.
- David Sell

Parx Casino fined

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board fined the owner of Parx Casino, in Bensalem, $7,500 for including 63 people who are participating in the board's Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program in an e-mailed customer-service survey. The self-exclusion program allows problem gamblers to ban themselves from gambling at Pennsylvania casinos for one year, five years, or life. The survey was sent last December to an unspecified number of people overall. - Harold Brubaker

Toll Bros. profit rises

Horsham-based Toll Bros. Inc.'s profit climbed in its fiscal fourth quarter but fell short of Wall Street expectations, hurt by inventory impairments of $10.8 million and an increase of $32 million in reserves to cover warranties and litigation. Toll had revenue of $1.35 billion in the quarter, up from $1.04 billion a year ago, beating analysts' estimates as it delivered more homes at higher prices. Toll earned $131.5 million, or 71 cents per share, for the period ended Oct. 31. - Associated Press

Airlines expect more travelers

U.S. airlines expect 45 million passengers to fly between Wednesday and Jan. 4, 2015, an increase of 2 percent, or 47,000 travelers a day. Last year, 44 million travelers flew during the winter holiday period, the industry group, Airlines for America, said Wednesday. The busiest day at airports will be Dec. 19. The least crowded days will be Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day, the group said. Airlines will add seats, primarily by flying larger aircraft. Planes are expected to be from 80 percent to 90 percent full. - Linda Loyd

A.C. trims planned bond sale

Atlantic City will shrink a planned bond sale by 70 percent. The city had planned a mid-November issue of as much as $140 million in bonds, primarily to cover casino-tax appeals, the city's revenue director, Michael Stinson, said. That deal is likely to be switched to a note sale of $40 million by year-end, he said. Bills introduced in Trenton to aid Atlantic City, the bankruptcies of Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. and Revel AC Inc., and a planned tax sale Thursday that may bring in as much as $60 million contributed to the decision on the bond offer, Stinson said. "Our financial advisers and underwriters on the deal felt that with the uncertainty surrounding Atlantic City, it was not the right time to go to the capital markets and borrow $140 million," he said. - Bloomberg News

Center City building sold

The office tower at 1835 Market St. has been sold by Clarion Partners to Elie Schwartz's New York-based Nightingale Properties for $100 million, says broker Doug Rodio, head of the Jones Lang LaSalle team that managed the deal. The 650,000-square-foot building is 75 percent leased, according to Rodio. It's Nightingale's third Philadelphia purchase since 2011. Nightingale is also an owner of 1700 Market St. and 1500 Spring Garden St. Starwood Properties will finance $90 million of the sale price through a five-year floating-rate loan. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Snacking produces dividends

J&J Snack Foods Corp., of Pennsauken, boosted its quarterly dividend by 12.5 percent, to 36 cents per share from 32 cents per share. The new dividend is payable Jan. 8 to shareholders of record on Dec. 23. J&J's products include Superpretzel soft pretzels, Icee frozen drinks, and Tio Pepe churros. - Harold Brubaker


4 companies get drone permits

Under pressure from Congress to speed access to U.S. skies for commercial drones, the Federal Aviation Administration granted four companies permission to use drones for aerial surveillance, construction site monitoring, and oil rig flare stack inspections. The new permits bring the total number of companies granted permits for commercial operations to 13. The permits announced Wednesday were granted to Trimble Navigation Ltd., VDOS Global L.L.C., Clayco Inc., and Woolpert Inc., which received two permits. The drones weigh less than 55 pounds and the firms have said they will they will keep the unmanned aircraft within the line of sight of the operator. - AP