Business news in brief
In the Region
PUC: Fines for shady marketing
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday approved civil settlements for two competitive electric suppliers over allegations of fraudulent marketing practices including "slamming" - signing up customers without their consent.
The companies, which did not admit wrongdoing, are among dozens of energy suppliers competing in Pennsylvania to market electricity to utility customers. - Andrew Maykuth
Sovereign Bank now Santander
Sovereign Bank was renamed Santander on Thursday, as the Spanish banking conglomerate that owns Sovereign sought to extend its brand name in the Northeast United States. The bank's legal name has been changed to Santander Bank N.A. Santander officials held unveiling ceremonies Thursday in Philadelphia, Wyomissing, Pa., Boston, and Providence, R.I. More than 10,000 interior and exterior signs will be changed in the next few days at the bank's 718 branches in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. Santander says it has 1.7 million retail customers and is among the 25 largest retail banks as measured by depositors. - David Sell
Braun Medical recalls antibiotic
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said B. Braun Medical Inc., with headquarters in Bethlehem and facilities in Allentown and Breinigsville, Pa., was recalling an injectable antibiotic because floating particles were found in containers of the drug. The company said in a statement that it recalled one lot, H3A744, labeled "1 g Cefepime for Injection USP and Dextrose Injection USP." The particles could cause a blood clot that might lead to a stroke or heart attack, though the company said it had not received any reports of patients having any adverse events. The recalled lot was sent to distributors, hospitals, and pharmacies between Feb. 4 and March 1. - David Sell
American Water gets grant
American Water of Voorhees, the nation's largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility company, said it received a research grant from the WateReuse Research Foundation to investigate the impacts of low dissolved-oxygen conditions at a full-scale membrane bioreactor (MBR) water-reuse plant. The project, valued at $365,777, will focus on the operation of advanced MBRs under low dissolved-oxygen (DO) conditions to maximize nitrogen removal. Researchers will monitor the process using continuous online analyzers. The study will be conducted at a company plant in Fillmore, Calif. - David Sell
New law on safety standards
Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo contains an ingredient that might give parents pause: formaldehyde. Deemed a "probable human carcinogen" by the U.S. government, formaldehyde is one of 164 potentially harmful chemicals targeted under a new California law that imposes stricter safety standards on a range of products made by such companies as J&J and Procter & Gamble Co. The law also takes aim at untreated mineral oils in lotions and at acetaldehyde, which can irritate the skin and is used in perfume.
Regulators are responding to pressure from consumer advocates who say U.S. efforts to ensure the safety of cosmetics and household cleaners lag behind Europe's. California's approach reflects growing concern over the cumulative effect of chemicals, since consumers use multiple products, said Debbie Raphael, director of the state's Department of Toxic Substances Control, which administers the law.
While the law phases in over a couple of years, companies are already adjusting to the new regulatory environment. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says that by 2015, it will require suppliers to phase out 10 as-yet-unidentified chemicals from cleaners, makeup and other personal-care products. J&J plans to make its baby shampoo formaldehyde-free by year's end and to eliminate other potentially harmful components from its lineup by 2015.
"As our products and policies evolve, they reflect the latest science, new regulations, and - just as importantly - consumer concerns," said Carol Goodrich, a J&J spokeswoman. P&G and J&J say that their products are safe and that all ingredients are well within limits that could be considered hazardous. - Bloomberg News
Goldman Sachs revenue falls
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said third-quarter revenue declined 20 percent from the same period in 2012. Bloomberg reported that the drop was the most among the biggest Wall Street banks and that Goldman's fixed-income results were the worst since the financial crisis. Third-quarter revenue was $6.72 billion. Goldman Sachs' bond trading plunged 47 percent to $1.29 billion. Chief executive officer Lloyd C. Blankfein, 59, cut expenses 25 percent in the quarter to offset falling revenue, including a 35 percent reduction in pay. - Bloomberg News