Business news in brief

In the Region

Regional unemployment ticks down

Philadelphia-region unemployment in October was 8.3 percent, down from 8.4 percent in September and unchanged from a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Labor said. The figures for the 10-county area defined by the department are not seasonally adjusted. Nationally, rates fell in 201 metro areas, rose in 116, and were unchanged in 55. The department reported earlier that the seasonally adjusted national unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent in October from 7.8 percent in September. - AP and Inquirer staff

 

3 at CCP oppose Shale scholarships

Three faculty members at Community College of Philadelphia called on the administration not to accept funds or collaborate with the natural-gas industry trade group Marcellus Shale Coalition, which this month pledged $15,000 for scholarships to a new Energy Training Center. In a statement, the faculty members said they "want no part of an environmentally destructive industry that continues to cause many documented health problems." The training center will offer an associate's degree in building science and aim to prepare students for careers in the energy conservation industry and for such jobs as energy auditors, renewable energy installers, and computer energy modelers, the college said. - Linda Loyd

 

Survey details doctor-pay increases

Hay Group, a Philadelphia consulting firm, said primary care physicians employed by hospitals are expected to receive smaller pay increases next year than their counterparts in physician groups. Hospital-based primary-care doctors will be paid 2 percent more next year, the same increase seen this year, the Hay Group survey found. The increase for group-based primary care doctors is expected to be 3 percent, down from 5 percent this year. Pay for doctors overall is expected to be 2.6 percent higher next year, slightly higher than the 2.5 percent increase for 2012. - Harold Brubaker

 

$100M MoneyGram settlement OKd

A federal judge in central Pennsylvania gave approval to a settlement of fraud charges against MoneyGram International Inc., including the establishment of a $100 million victim compensation fund. District Judge Christopher Conner accepted a deferred prosecution agreement between federal prosecutors and the Dallas-based payment services provider. Prosecutors said the company turned a blind eye to scam artists and money launderers, and failed to act against agents linked to fraud schemes. - AP

 

Brandywine Realty to redeem shares

Office real estate owner Brandywine Realty Trust, of Radnor, said it would redeem all 2.3 million outstanding shares of its 7.375-percent Series D cumulative redeemable preferred stock on Dec. 28 for $25 per share, plus accumulated and unpaid dividends. Shareholders will be notified by mail, the company said. - Reid Kanaley

 

Elsewhere

SEC said preparing case vs. SAC

Federal regulators are preparing a civil fraud case against SAC Capital Advisors, the $14 billion hedge fund run by Steven A. Cohen, according to a call that he held with the fund's investors. SAC said it had received a so-called Wells notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission, an indication that the agency was considering an enforcement action against the hedge fund. Last week, federal prosecutors accused Mathew Martoma, a former SAC portfolio manager, of corrupting a doctor who provided him with confidential data on a drug trial - information that allowed SAC to earn profit and avoid losses totaling $276 million. - New York Times News Service

 

Spanish banks get bailout

European Union authorities approved the payment of 37 billion euros ($47.96 billion) in bailout loans to four of Spain's struggling banks - provided each of them cuts loans and investments by 60 percent. Under the plan, the four banks must exit from lending to real estate development, limit their presence in wholesale business, and concentrate on retail loans and those to small and medium-size companies in their base regions. They will have to reduce their branch numbers by 50 percent. - AP

 

Judge to rule on A123 asset sale

Government attorneys say failed battery maker A123 Systems Inc. needs the government's consent to sell its assets. The Justice Department told a Delaware bankruptcy judge that any sale of A123's assets must protect the government's interests. The Department of Energy gave the Waltham, Mass., company a $249 million grant three years ago. A123, which makes lithium ion batteries for electric cars, grid storage, and commercial and military applications, is selling its assets. - AP

Microsoft: Windows 8 selling well

Microsoft Corp. said the latest version of its Windows operating system was off to a great start. Yet it remains unclear whether the revamped software will win over enough people to revive the personal computer market. About 40 million licenses to Windows 8 were sold in its first month on the market. Microsoft released the figure in conjunction with the company's annual shareholder meeting, held near its Redmond, Wash., headquarters. - AP

 

Groupon may seek CEO change

Some Groupon Inc. directors plan to discuss a possible leadership change amid concern that chief executive Andrew Mason is mishandling the company's turnaround, a person familiar with the matter said. Mason's role as CEO will be considered in a regularly scheduled board meeting Thursday, said the person, who asked not to be named because the issue was private. Mason responded to reports on the planned discussions by saying he would fire himself if he were not suited to the task. Groupon shares have dropped 80 percent since its November 2011 initial public offering. - Bloomberg News