In the Region

Pep Boys gets matching bid

Bridgestone Corp. late Friday said it increased its bid for Pep Boys - Manny Moe & Jack to $15.50 in cash, or $863 million. That matches investor Carl Icahn's cash offer of $15.50 a share for the iconic Philadelphia-based auto parts and repair chain. Bridgestone said in a statement that the Pep Boys board still unanimously recommends that shareholders accept the Bridgestone offer. A Pep Boys official could not be reached Friday evening. Icahn, who owns rival Auto Plus stores, made his unsolicited offer Tuesday. In October, Bridgestone offered Pep Boys $15 a share or $835 million. - Inquirer staff

FTC digs deeper into deal

Federal antitrust regulators have requested more information from Walgreens Boots Alliance and Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid - which operates several drugstores in the Philadelphia area - in connection with the pending $17.2 billion deal to combine the drugstore chains. The Federal Trade Commission generally takes a close look at any deal that reduces retail competition. Walgreens and Rite Aid said Friday they had been cooperating with FTC staff since the merger was announced at the end of October. Walgreens is willing to divest up to 1,000 stores to clear antitrust hurdles. The total would represent about 8 percent of the combined company's 12,700 stores. - Chicago Tribune

PGW rate hike gets support

Two administrative law judges have recommended that the Philadelphia Gas Works should raise rates to upgrade its infrastructure, nearly doubling the speed at which the city-owned utility can replace its aging gas mains. A typical residential customer would pay about $20 more per year to fund the program, which would allow PGW to replace its riskiest underground pipes in 48 years, up from the current 86-year pace. The earliest date the five-member PUC could vote on the recommendation is Jan. 28. - Andrew Maykuth


Using Google to fight STDs

With sexually transmitted diseases on the rise, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago think they might have a powerful new weapon to fight their spread: Google searches. The nation's leading search engine has quietly begun giving researchers access to its data troves to develop analytical models for tracking infectious diseases in real time or close to it. UIC is one of at least four academic institutions that have received access so far, along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. - Kaiser Health News