Monday, January 26, 2015

Business news in brief

An employee talks to visitors at a U.K. distillery, explaining a blended Scotch whiskey distilling process. But that U.K. distinction might not exist for much longer. Six weeks remain until a Sept. 18 referendum when voters will decide the Scottish independence question. On Wednesday, Scottish nationalist leader Alex Salmond clashed in a debate with the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, over merits and risks of a split. SIMON DAWSON / Bloomberg
An employee talks to visitors at a U.K. distillery, explaining a blended Scotch whiskey distilling process. But that U.K. distinction might not exist for much longer. Six weeks remain until a Sept. 18 referendum when voters will decide the Scottish independence question. On Wednesday, Scottish nationalist leader Alex Salmond clashed in a debate with the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, over merits and risks of a split. SIMON DAWSON / Bloomberg

In the Region

 

 

 

Pfizer to pay $35M

 

Pfizer Inc. will pay $35 million to resolve allegations by 42 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, that its subsidiary, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, illegally marketed an organ transplant drug for unapproved uses. The states' attorneys general said Wyeth, which Pfizer bought in 2009, trained sales representatives to encourage doctors to prescribe Rapamune for uses other than preventing rejection of transplanted kidneys. Pfizer said in a statement that the alleged activity occurred before it acquired Wyeth. The company did not admit any wrongdoing or liability. - AP

 

Group curbs ties to shale center

 

Another environmental group has distanced itself from the Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development, a hotly debated partnership of major energy companies, green groups, and foundations. PennFuture, a leading Pennsylvania environmental group that helped found the center, is no longer a "strategic partner." The Public Accountability Initiative, a Buffalo nonprofit, disclosed the shift Wednesday and also criticized the center's staff and funders for having ties to the oil and gas industry. Over the last year, the Heinz Endowments and the William Penn Foundation stopped funding the center. - AP

 

Pa. fines SugarHouse over slots

 

SugarHouse Casino was fined $58,000 by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for running 12 slot machines with settings that didn't match those reported to regulators. The discrepancy could have caused the theoretical payout percentage to be different than expected during the 148 days in question last year. "We respect the decision of the Gaming Board and have put procedures in place to prevent recurrence," a spokesman for SugarHouse said. At its meeting Wednesday, the gaming board also renewed the license for Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Dauphin County. - Harold Brubaker

 

Pa. coal mine closing

 

A Virginia coal company plans to close a long-wall mine in southwestern Pennsylvania, citing a depressed coal market and the fact that the mine is nearing the end of its coal reserves. Alpha Natural Resources, of Bristol, Va., says about 500 workers will lose their jobs when the Emerald Mine near Waynesburg closes by the end of next year. The company hopes to transfer some of those workers to another nearby mine. CEO Kevin Crutchfield announced the closure as the company reported a $512 million loss in its second quarter that ended June 30. The company cited increasing coal imports, low natural gas prices, and low prices for metallurgical coal, which is primarily used to make coke, a fuel used to make steel. - AP

 

Tax issue cools Shire, Astra

 

American depositary receipts in drugmakers Shire P.L.C. fell 3.6 percent and AstraZeneca P.L.C. fell 2.1 percent after the Obama administration said it would seek to deter U.S. companies from buying foreign competitors to dodge domestic taxes. The companies, based in Dublin and London, but with large operations in the Philadelphia region, have emerged as acquisition targets for U.S. companies that seek foreign headquarters in order to shirk the U.S.'s 35 percent corporate tax rate, the highest in the developed world. AbbVie Inc. said July 18 it would buy Shire for $55 billion, and AstraZeneca spurned a $117 billion offer from Pfizer Inc. on May 19. - Bloomberg News

 

Comcast extends cheap Net

 

Comcast Corp. is relaxing eligibility for its low-cost Internet access program, Internet Essentials, which may allow more poor Americans to sign up for the company's $10-a-month broadband program. As part of a back-to-school promotion, running until Sept. 20, new subscribers to the program will get six months of free Internet access. In addition, previous Comcast customers who were barred from signing up for Internet Essentials because they owed the company money for other services will now be eligible - if their outstanding bill is more than a year old. - Washington Post

 

Chevron faulted in well fire

 

Environmental investigators faulted Chevron Inc. site managers in a report released Wednesday on a natural-gas well fire in Western Pennsylvania that killed one worker. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection report said that a contract worker with no oil field experience worked on the well, contrary to company policy, and that the February fire "may have been caused by human error" when a lock screw was ejected from the well, allowing high-pressure methane gas to escape. The report also said Chevron's well site managers did not always provide enough oversight to contractors at the site in Dunkard, about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. A Chevron spokesman said the company is reviewing the report. - AP

 

 

 

 

Elsewhere

Target backs gay marriage

 

Target Corp. is adding its name to a legal defense of gay marriage, joining other large companies that are taking a stand, just four years after the retailer came under criticism for supporting a strident opponent of same-sex unions. Target said it has signed a court brief backing marriage equality in a pending court case and publicly declared its support of gay marriage, a move similar to those taken by Starbucks, Intel, and Apple. - AP

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

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