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Business news in brief

In the Region

DuPont tries to fend off Peltz

In a letter to shareholders and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, DuPont Co. chief executive Ellen Kullman on Monday urged investors to back her, nine other incumbent directors, plus newcomers including Ed Breen, at the company's annual meeting May 13 in Wilmington. That slate shuts out billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz of Trian Partners and his allies, after talks failed to produce a mutually acceptable candidate. Peltz is urging investors to vote for him and three supporters. Peltz says Kullman is not cutting costs, spinning off businesses, boosting sales, or returning cash to investors fast enough. Kullman says her plan to focus more on biomaterials is going well, while Peltz's plans would boost debt too high and damage the company. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Jury mostly sides with J&J

A Philadelphia jury on Friday said that Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Pharmaceuticals division did not adequately warn a patient about potential side effects of using the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, but also said the drug did not cause the breast growth the man experienced as a child. Plaintiff William Cirba, now 19, was awarded no money, which contrasts with the recent $2.5 million award in the first Risperdal trial that went to a jury in the Court of Common Pleas. Janssen has asked the judge in the first case, Ramy Djerassi, to set aside the verdict and grant judgment for Janssen or grant a new trial. If Djerassi denies the motion, Janssen will appeal, spokeswoman Robyn Frenze said in a statement. As for the second verdict, Frenze said, "We are pleased that the jury found that the plaintiff's physical condition was not caused by using Risperdal." More than 1,000 Risperdal cases are pending. - David Sell

LiquidHub buys Redkite

LiquidHub, the Wayne-based "digital integrator" and IT corporate outsourcing firm serving large insurance, investment, drug, and telecom companies, has purchased New York-based, 50-person cloud-based computing consultancy Redkite, which specializes in fitting software to corporate software users. Along with purchases of Salesforce consultants Harvest Solutions and ClosedWon and digital marketer Foundry9 since October, LiquidHub now employs 1,600. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Aramark secondary stock sale

Philadelphia-based Aramark said Monday that some of its major stockholders - affiliates of GS Capital Partners, CCMP Capital Advisors L.L.C., J.P. Morgan Partners L.L.C., Thomas H. Lee Partners L.P., and Warburg Pincus L.L.C. - intend to offer to sell 22.5 million shares of company stock. The selling stockholders will receive all of the proceeds from the sale, Aramark said, noting that no shares are being sold by management or Aramark. - David Sell

RBS selling shares of Citizens

Royal Bank of Scotland Group P.L.C. plans to sell about $3.3 billion of shares in its U.S. unit Citizens Financial Group Inc. to investors. Citizens Bank has branches in the Philadelphia region. RBS, which owns 70.3 percent of Citizens, plans to sell as many as 132.3 million shares to institutional investors for as much as $24.88 apiece, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The sale would reduce RBS's ownership to 46.1 percent. - Bloomberg News


High court to hear DirecTV case

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to use an appeal by DirecTV to consider reinforcing companies' ability to take disputes with consumers into arbitration. The justices Monday said they would review a California state court decision allowing former customers to press a class-action lawsuit against DirecTV. The customers claim they were assessed illegal penalties for canceling their satellite-television service early. DirecTV says the lower court ruling flouts a 2011 Supreme Court decision that said companies can use arbitration agreements to block people from pressing legal claims as a group. The 2011 ruling said the Federal Arbitration Act preempts state laws that require class actions to be an option. - Bloomberg News

Existing home sales weak

Sales of previously owned homes fell short of a five million annual rate in February for a second month, showing an industry struggling to gain traction amid rising prices and a lack of inventory. Closings, which usually take place a month or two after a contract is signed, rose 1.2 percent to a 4.88 million annual rate, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday in Washington. The median value of a house climbed 7.5 percent from the same month last year while the number of properties on the market was little changed. - Bloomberg News

Louisville Sluggers traded

The company that makes Louisville Slugger baseball bats has announced a deal to sell the iconic brand to rival Wilson Sporting Goods Co. Wilson's deal to acquire the global brand, sales, and innovation rights from Louisville Slugger's parent, Hillerich & Bradsby Co., still requires approval by H&B shareholders. H&B has made Louisville Slugger bats since 1884. H&B CEO John A. Hillerich IV says the decision to sell the brand was difficult, but says the company believes it needs to pursue a new business model. - AP