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Business news in brief

In the Region

Temple in Middle East venture

Temple University Health System's Fox Chase Cancer Center has signed a memorandum of understanding with an Abu Dhabi hospital to explore the creation of a cancer center in the United Arab Emirates, the organizations said Thursday. Fox Chase officials plan to meet early next year with officials of Universal Hospital in Abu Dhabi to discuss the proposed collaboration, which would start with a bone-marrow transplant program at the privately owned hospital in the Middle East. Last month, in another example of the Philadelphia region exporting its health-care expertise, the University of Pennsylvania Health System announced a partnership with VPS Healthcare, also a privately owned health system based in the United Arab Emirates. - Harold Brubaker

Comcast converts stock shares

Comcast Corp. shareholders approved a plan to convert nonvoting K shares into regular common stock. All nonvoting K shares will be reclassified on a one-to-one basis as class A common stock after Wall Street trading closes on Friday. Class A shares have one share/one vote rights in Comcast corporate-governance issues. Philadelphia-based Comcast, the cable TV giant, has said there was no need for the two stock classes. The Roberts family preserved its 33 percent control of the cable and media conglomerate through super-voting class B shares. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is son of co-founder Ralph Roberts. - Bob Fernandez

Pa. uninsured rate drops

More than 500,000 Pennsylvanians, including 110,954 from Philadelphia, have signed up for Medicaid since Gov. Wolf expanded the program this year, helping the state's uninsured rate drop to 8 percent from 14 percent, the governor. The gain in Philadelphia represents a 27 percent increase from Dec. 31, when 415,776 Philadelphians were enrolled in the state's HealthChoices Medicaid program. Soon after taking office, Wolf decided to abandon his predecessor's hybrid Medicaid expansion, opting instead for the Affordable Care Act route, which allowed individuals who earn up to $16,243 a year and couples who earn up to $21,983 a year to enroll in Medicaid. Statewide, 59 percent of the new Medicaid enrollees are white, 23 percent are African American, 10 percent are Hispanic, and 4 percent are Asian, the governor's office said. Philadelphia, which was home to 25 percent of the state's Medicaid beneficiaries last December, accounted for 22 percent of the state's 504,336 new enrollees. The statewide increase from December was 30 percent. - Harold Brubaker

Worker safety leader lauded

In the late 1970s, the cancer death rate in the heavily industrial Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Bridesburg was twice the national average. Alarmed neighbors organized and teamed with PhilaPOSH, the Philadelphia Project on Occupational Safety and Health, then a fledgling union and foundation funded worker safety group led by founder Rick Engler. On Friday, Engler, of Glen Rock, N.J., will be honored by PhilaPOSH at its 40th anniversary awards banquet partly for the outgrowth of that collaboration. Others being honored are Eileen Senn, for her writing on industrial hygiene; Philadelphia city risk manager Barry Scott; Bricklayers and Allied Workers Local 1 President Dennis Pagliotti for his work on reducing silica dust; AFL-CIO Bucks County Central Labor Council president Tom Tosti for pushing for criminal prosecution of firms that run dangerous workplaces; and Javier Garcia Hernandez, for helping the Hispanic community on workplace safety. - Jane M. Von Bergen

Jefferson alters health program

Jefferson Health will close the diploma program at Abington Memorial Hospital Dixon School of Nursing in Willow Grove after the current students are finished, Jefferson and Abington officials said in a letter to employees. Beginning in the fall of 2017, the Jefferson College of Nursing hopes to admit its first students into a new bachelor's of science in nursing program at the Willow Grove campus. Under the plan, students will apply to the Jefferson College of Nursing and select either the Center City campus or the Abington-Dixon campus, officials said. - Harold Brubaker


Buffett invests in Sears outtake

Seritage Growth Properties, the real estate investment trust spun off from retailer Sears Holdings Corp., soared 17 percent to $41.09 a share after billionaire Warren Buffett disclosed an investment in the company. Buffett reported a passive holding of 2 million shares, representing an 8 percent stake, according to a regulatory filing on Thursday. Seritage began trading in July after Sears created the business to capitalize on its real estate holdings. The REIT owns about 250 properties, which it leases back to Sears to be operated as department stores. Sears raised $2.7 billion by creating the REIT as part of hedge-fund manager Edward Lampert's effort to turn around the struggling retailer.  - Bloomberg News

Ford going big on electric cars

Ford Motor Co. said it is investing $4.5 billion in electrified vehicles, responding to regulatory pressure with a bet on technologies that have struggled to attract buyers in the U.S. as fuel prices stay low. The automaker will add 13 electric cars and hybrids by 2020, rising to 40 percent of its lineup from 13 percent now, chief executive officer Mark Fields said at a news conference. The plans include a new Focus Electric car with fast-charge capability, Ford said. - Bloomberg News