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Business news in brief

In the Region

Aria Health settles case

When Aria Health bought 3B Orthopedics in December 2012 for $4.1 million, $3.5 million was allocated for the 3B trademark. Two years later, Aria decided that it paid too much for the trademark. That meant, according to a settlement announced Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia, that Aria was overpaying the 3B physicians who left Pennsylvania Hospital for Aria, in violation of a federal law requiring physicians to be paid fair market value for their services. Aria agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle alleged False Claims Act violations involving 3B and, separately, a thoracic surgeon whose $1.4 million annual compensation was found to be "outside fair market value," the U.S. Attorney's office said. Aria also agreed to pay $564,000 to settle allegations that a cardiologist performed unnecessary surgeries at Aria's Torresdale campus between October 2012 and April 2013, when he was fired. Aria reported the matter to the U.S. Attorney about a year later. "Through ongoing compliance review, Aria identified these matters and voluntarily reported them to the government," Aria said. Aria did not admit liability in the settlements. - Harold Brubaker

Phila. shipyard delivers tanker

Philly Shipyard Inc. delivered its second 330,000-barrel oil tanker Wednesday to Crowley Maritime Corp. of Jacksonville, Florida. The Texas, like its sister ship Ohio, are 600-foot vessels capable of carrying crude oil or refined petroleum products. Both tankers are equipped to be converted to use liquefied natural gas as a fuel, which would help the operator to comply with new regulations coastal vessels to reduce emissions. The shipyard, formerly known as Aker Philadelphia Shipyard, is building two more vessels for delivery to Crowley next year. - Andrew Maykuth


Consumers keep spending

Consumer spending, a key driver of the U.S. economy, showed solid growth last month to open the holiday shopping season as incomes also kept rising, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. After spending stagnated in October, Americans opened their wallets wider last month. Consumer spending increased 0.3 percent in November, in line with economists' forecasts. Income growth slowed a bit, increasing 0.3 percent in November. Incomes had increased 0.4 percent the previous month. Still, November was the eighth straight month that incomes rose, an encouraging sign for the economic recovery. - Los Angeles Times

Disney CEO's pay falls 3%

Walt Disney Co. chairman and chief executive officer Bob Iger saw his reported compensation drop 3.4 percent to $44.9 million in 2015, as his cash bonus shrank by $410,000 and the value of a pension declined because of an accounting change. Iger's bonus fell to $22.3 million in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 29, according to a proxy filed Wednesday by the world's biggest entertainment company. The biggest factor, though, was a change in a discount rate applied to his pension. That resulted in an almost 50 percent drop in its reported value, to $1.42 million. Iger, like many media CEOs, is frequently among the highest-paid executives in the country. His 2015 salary totaled $2.5 million, plus stock and option awards of $17.1 million and the cash bonus. - Bloomberg News

PG&E must face worst charges

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. must face the most serious charges related to a 2010 explosion that killed eight people in a San Francisco suburb as the utility heads to a jury trial next year over claims it ignored the dangers of older gas pipelines. U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson in San Francisco on Wednesday rejected the power company's request to throw out charges that its alleged violation of minimum federal pipeline safety standards was "knowing and willful," as well as seven counts related to its record keeping practices. The judge previously refused to dismiss a charge that PG&E obstructed a National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the blast. - Bloomberg News

Shoppers love gift cards

As the holiday shopping season comes to a close, procrastinators still have one fail-safe option: gift cards. Whitney Young plans to give five this year, including an American Express card for her mother and one from Best Buy for her father. "It's a lot better than giving cash and a lot more useful than picking out something they might not use," said Young, a junior at George Washington University in Washington. Americans are projected to spend nearly $26 billion on gift cards this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation, and many of those sales have taken place in the four days leading up to Christmas. The convenience of gift cards has made them a particularly popular gift, and this year is likely to be no exception. - Washington Post