In the Region

Kenexa, of Wayne, prices its share offering

Kenexa Corp., an employee recruitment and outsourcing company in Wayne, has priced its public offering of 3.8 million shares at $31.86 each. The company expects total proceeds of about $113.5 million and will use $49 million of the funds to repay all outstanding borrowings from its acquisition of BrassRing L.L.C. Kenexa will use the rest as working capital and for general corporate purposes.

- Miriam Hill

Phila. company sets price of public offering

RAIT Financial Trust said it had priced a public offering of 10 million of its common shares at $34 each. RAIT, a Philadelphia real estate investment trust, expects to receive net proceeds of $317.6 million. The company plans to use the proceeds to repay debt and for general trust purposes.

- Miriam Hill

Elsewhere

Morgan Stanley to pay $6.6 billion for resorts

Morgan Stanley, the biggest real estate investor among Wall Street firms, has agreed to buy CNL Hotels & Resorts Inc. for $6.6 billion including debt to add eight luxury U.S. resorts to its holdings. Closely held CNL, Orlando, Fla., also will sell its remaining 51 properties to Ashford Hospitality Trust for $2.4 billion, the companies said. That sum is included in Morgan Stanley's purchase price. Morgan Stanley will gain several properties in Hilton's Waldorf Astoria collection, including the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa in Maui, Hawaii, and the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami, where PGA Tour events are played. In November, the securities firm began raising as much as $8 billion for funds to invest in high-yielding real estate.

- Bloomberg News

Medicare drug plan boosts firms' sales, earnings

A new government benefit increased U.S. drug sales by $2.5 billion, or 1 percent, in 2006, bolstering earnings at Pfizer Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc. as well as other companies. Purchases under the benefit, offered through Medicare for the first time last year, accounted for a sixth of the growth in sales, according to research firm IMS Health Inc. UnitedHealth reported a 9.2 percent profit margin on the drug program in the fourth quarter. Insurers, including UnitedHealth, gained from selling drug policies to 22.6 million Americans and administering the new Medicare program, known as Part D. Drugmakers collected higher prices because the plan prevents Medicare from negotiating discounts. While the House last week passed a bill requiring the government to negotiate prices for the program, President Bush said he would veto the measure if it passes the Senate.

- Bloomberg News

Conn. takes action against subprime lender

Connecticut banking regulators said they are seeking fines that could exceed $7 million in a multistate effort against a troubled mortgage lender that works primarily with people with poor credit. The Banking Department issued a temporary cease-and-desist order against Middletown-based Mortgage Lenders Network USA Inc., saying it failed to fund loan transactions in a timely manner, imposed excessive prepaid finance charges, and failed to provide information requested by the state. The order doesn't prevent the company from operating, but Mortgage Lenders has promised not to make loans while the matter is pending, banking officials said. The privately held company bills itself as one of the country's top subprime mortgage lenders, with a portfolio of $17.8 billion. State Banking Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin said the order was part of an effort by New England states, Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.

- AP

Aker's share sale raises $728 million


Aker ASA, a Norwegian investment company, raised $728 million from selling shares in two of its subsidiaries and plans to use the proceeds for new investments, which might include acquisitions. The Oslo-based company controlled by billionaire Kjell Inge Roekke sold stakes in Aker Yards, Europe's largest shipbuilder, and engineering company Aker Kvaerner ASA, and said the money would be used for "industrial development," such as developing and creating businesses and projects, said Geir Arne Drangeid, Aker ASA executive vice president. That could include acquisitions, he said, without elaborating. Aker ASA also holds stakes in Aker Seafoods ASA, Aker Drilling ASA, Aker Biomarine ASA, and Aker American Shipping ASA, which owns a shipyard in Philadelphia. It has also set up oil-exploration and oil-production companies.

- Bloomberg News

Citigroup's quarterly profit drops 26 percent

Citigroup Inc., the nation's largest bank, said its profit fell 26 percent in the fourth quarter from results a year earlier that had been boosted by a gain on the sale of a business line. Its latest earnings still beat expectations. The New York-based bank said it earned $5.13 billion, or $1.03 a share, in the October-December period, down from $6.93 billion, or $1.37 a share, a year earlier. The year-earlier figure included a $2 billion gain on the sale of an asset management business. Excluding the gain, earnings in the fourth quarter of 2005 were 98 cents a share.

- AP

Delta says sweetened US Airways bid to be discussed

Management of Delta Air Lines plans to discuss soon with the company's board its evaluation of US Airways' recently increased takeover bid, Delta said. The disclosure came as Delta filed an amended reorganization plan that details how it would satisfy claims against its subsidiary, Comair. Beyond that statement, the nation's third-largest carrier offered no new insight into the fate of a hostile bid by Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways Group Inc. to buy Delta in a deal valued at $10.1 billion. US Airways is the dominant carrier in Philadelphia.

- AP

Houston law firm to pay Enron in settlement

Andrews Kurth, a Houston-based law firm, agreed to pay Enron Corp. $18.5 million to resolve potential malpractice claims tied to transactions that contributed to the energy trader's collapse in 2001. Enron lawyers asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur J. Gonzalez in New York to approve the settlement, reached Nov. 17 after mediation and disclosed Thursday in a court filing.

- Bloomberg News

French authorities approve NYSE-Euronext deal

The French Financial Markets Authority, or AMF, said it had approved the terms of the New York Stock Exchange's cash and share offer for Euronext NV. The deal is worth about $14.3 billion. The project still needs approval from other authorities - notably the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Dutch Finance Ministry, since Euronext is incorporated in the Netherlands. Shareholders of both exchange operators last month approved the acquisition of Euronext by NYSE Group Inc., a tie-up that will create the first transatlantic equities exchange.

- AP

PBGC takes responsibility for Kaiser unit's pensions

A federal agency said that it has taken responsibility for pension plans covering nearly 900 workers and retirees of Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Co. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which insures private defined-benefit pension plans, estimated that the four pension plans it is taking over have combined assets of $20.1 million to cover promised benefits totaling $29.6 million. The agency said it would be liable for $2.7 million of the $9.5 million shortfall. Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Co. is a subsidiary of Kaiser Aluminum Corp., Foothill Ranch, Calif. The four pension plans the PBGC is taking responsibility for are known as the Bellwood Plan, the Los Angeles Extrusion Plan, the Sherman Plan and the Tulsa Plan.

- AP