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Business news in brief

In the Region

DuPont sells parking lots

DuPont Co. has sold the Hotel du Pont Carpark and two parking lots across Orange Street from its soon-to-be-former headquarters in central Wilmington to the Buccini Pollin Group, which manages and develops property in the area. Although DuPont declined to disclose a sale price, a person familiar with the deal said it was $7 million. Meanwhile, sources say Chemours, the planned $4 billion DuPont spin-off of the company's titanium dioxide business, is weighing possible sites in Wilmington, Philadelphia (the Navy Yard), South Jersey (Salem County near the Delaware Memorial Bridge), and Delaware County. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Linode hiring in Haddonfield

Linode, a 12-year-old, Galloway Township, N.J.-based cloud-hosting company that claims 350,000 customers worldwide for services, says it will hold an open house at its new Haddonfield office, at the Kings Hall co-working space, 2 Kings Highway W., on May 7 and 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Linode hopes to add 30 Philadelphia-area computer professionals this year, bringing total staff to 90. The company invested $45 million in new switches and faster server capabilities last year. Linode CEO Christopher S. Aker said in a statement that his firm would add Singapore and Frankfurt, Germany, to its network of six data centers by June. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Fracking violations reported

Oil and gas drillers ran afoul of regulators on average 2.5 times a day in three energy-intensive states for mistakes such as wastewater spills, well leaks, or pipeline ruptures during the boom in hydraulic fracturing. Online records in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Colorado showed regulators issued 4,600 citations from 2009 to 2013, the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a report. The vast majority of violations - about 4,000 - were in Pennsylvania. West Virginia and Colorado combined had about 600. The report excluded violations in 33 other states with drilling because such records are not available on the Internet. "The companies are violating the law too often, and we need policy solutions to increase transparency and to change the consequences for not complying" with the rules, said Amy Mall, an author of the report for the New York-based environmental advocate. The industry says that the practice is safe and that fracking itself has not caused chemical contamination of water supplies. - Bloomberg News

Vanguard funds set record

Vanguard Group, the world's second-biggest money manager, gathered a record $83.9 billion from clients in the first quarter. Based in Malvern, Montgomery County, Vanguard received $27.6 billion in investor cash in March, spokesman John Woerth said in a statement. - Bloomberg News

Pfizer halts China vaccine sales

Pfizer Inc. is ceasing its commercial vaccine operations in China after the government failed to renew its license for a key shot for children, the latest sign of the uncertainties facing international drugmakers in the nation. The Chinese import license for the Prevenar-brand vaccine expired last year, Pfizer said Thursday. It expects a shortage of the product in China before the launch of a newer version, called Prevenar 13, that it sells in other parts of the world. Drugmakers in China have faced delays in approvals in recent years because of changing rules. New York-based Pfizer has a large operation in Collegeville, Montgomery County. - Bloomberg News


Mortgage rates rise slightly

The mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday that the national average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked up to 3.70 percent from 3.69 percent last week. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage, popular with homeowners who refinance, edged up to 2.98 percent from 2.97 percent last week. - Associated Press

Delta, American in LAX spat

Delta Air Lines has asked U.S. regulators to prevent American Airlines from starting flights between Los Angeles and Mexico City, the latest shot in recent friction between the carriers. American has sought clearance to take over the route from Alaska Airlines, which has agreed to turn it over before June. The skirmish is part of competition between Delta and American to grow at Los Angeles International Airport, where no airline enjoys a dominant market position. - Bloomberg News

Whistle-blowers gets SEC help

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sanctioned KBR Inc. for trying to block employees from reporting misdeeds to regulators, the agency's first action against a company for trying to muzzle whistle-blowers. KBR, a multinational construction and energy-services firm, asked employees to sign agreements stating they were not permitted to discuss possible misconduct with anyone outside the company, the SEC said in a statement Wednesday. The agreements violated SEC provisions aimed at protecting whistle-blowers, the agency said. KBR agreed to pay $130,000 and tell employees that they were free to talk to federal prosecutors or regulators. "SEC rules prohibit employers from taking measures through confidentiality, employment, severance, or other type of agreements that may silence potential whistle-blowers before they can reach out to the SEC," enforcement director Andrew Ceresney said. "We will vigorously enforce this provision." - Bloomberg News