In the Region

AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb in venture

AstraZeneca P.L.C. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said yesterday that they agreed to collaborate on two new diabetes compounds in the latest maneuver by area companies in the lucrative field. London-based AstraZeneca, with U.S. operations near Wilmington, and Bristol-Myers, based in New York with operations around Princeton, will work on two investigational compounds for treatment of Type 2 diabetes that were discovered by Bristol-Myers Squibb, the companies said. AstraZeneca will pay Bristol-Myers Squibb $100 million initially and will cover development costs through 2009. It may pay Bristol-Myers Squibb an additional $950 million in development milestone payments, and it will share proceeds after any launches, the companies said. The products are saxagliptin, known as a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 DPP-4 inhibitor, and dapagliflozin, a sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 SGLT2 inhibitor. The companies also agreed to consider extending the collaboration to any other discoveries.

- Thomas Ginsberg

Armstrong World Industries trying to sell Dutch units

Armstrong World Industries Inc., Lancaster, said it was in negotiations to sell its Dutch carpet and sports-flooring business. Talks between Armstrong and Netherlands-based NPM Capital N.V. are aimed at the sale of Armstrong's Tapijtfabriek H. Desseaux N.V. and its subsidiaries, also with headquarters in the Netherlands. The companies said their negotiations had reached the stage at which an agreement was expected.

- Reid Kanaley

Hersha Hospitality opens Residence Inn in Langhorne

Hersha Hospitality Management, Philadelphia, has opened a 100-suite Residence Inn by Marriott at 15 E. Cabot Blvd. in Langhorne, Bucks County. The hotel, designed for travelers who need apartment-style accommodations for a week or more, is the second Residence Inn Hersha has opened in recent weeks; the first is in Carlisle, Pa. Hersha, an affiliate of Hersha Hospitality Trust, a publicly traded real estate investment trust, manages 50 upscale and mid-price hotels in the Northeast.

- Tom Belden

Wyeth to expand Solvay partnership

Wyeth said it would expand a partnership with Belgian pharmaceutical company Solvay S.A. to include research in neuroscience. The earlier agreement on neuroscience development and marketing announced in April 2004 has resulted in a treatment for patients with schizophrenia, the companies said. They will collaborate in identifying small molecules with the potential to be used as antipsychotic medications. Compounds discovered under the collaboration will be co-owned and co-patented by Solvay and Wyeth. Wyeth, Madison, N.J., has pharmaceutical headquarters in Collegeville.

- AP

Five banks commit funds for small-business loans

The Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition has announced a small-business loan program for minority, low- and moderate-income city neighborhoods. The program, developed by the coalition's Small Business Lending Task Force, has five banks committing $18.25 million over four years. Participating lenders are Beneficial Savings Bank, Citizens Bank, Commerce Bank, PNC Bank, and United Bank of Philadelphia. The loans are available for small businesses that are higher credit risks and that have annual revenue of less than $1 million. The maximum available loan is $50,000.

- Madhusmita Bora

Elsewhere

European regulators approve NYSE-Euronext deal

NYSE Group Inc.'s $15 billion takeover of Euronext N.V., which will create the world's first transatlantic equity market, has won final approval from regulators of Euronext, Europe's second-largest stock exchange, in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

- Bloomberg News

SAP says license sales grew less than anticipated

SAP AG, the world's largest maker of business-management software, said fourth-quarter license sales rose less than analysts estimated, sending shares down as much as 6 percent in U.S. trading. License sales, a gauge of future fees from maintenance and consulting, increased to $1.64 billion from $1.52 billion a year earlier, SAP, Walldorf, Germany, said, citing preliminary numbers. SAP had been expected to report software sales of $1.74 billion, according to the median estimate in a survey among 13 analysts. SAP shares closed down $5.63 at $48.50 on the New York Stock Exchange. SAP's U.S. headquarters are in Newtown Square.

- Bloomberg News

Visteon says it will lose money this year . . .

Visteon Corp., the auto-parts-maker spun off from Ford Motor Co., forecast a 2007 loss because most of its customers will trim demand as they reduce production. The loss will be about $50 million, excluding restructuring costs and other expenses, finance chief James Palmer said. Ford will build fewer vehicles in North America and Europe, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will trim North American production, and Peugeot S.A. and Renault S.A. will also cut back, he said.

- Bloomberg News

. . . while 1,473 accept offers to leave American Axle

American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. said 1,473 union workers accepted offers to leave the auto-parts-maker, which is cutting back as General Motors Corp. builds fewer vehicles. The cost of the buyout program, offered to about 6,000 workers, will be about $140 million, the Detroit-based company said. American Axle also said it would idle some capacity for making light-truck parts, resulting in expenses of as much as $200 million to be taken in last year's fourth quarter.

- Bloomberg News

Attendance fell 1% last year, Dorney Park owner says

Theme park operator Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., which owns Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom near Allentown, said it saw a slight drop in visitors last year. Attendance was down less than 1 percent at its amusement and water parks, the company said. That does not include five parks that the company acquired last year when it bought Paramount Parks Inc. Combined attendance at all of the parks was 19.3 million people, the company said.

- AP

GM: Structural costs cut $3 billion more than goal

General Motors Corp. said it exceeded its 2006 goal for North American structural cost cuts by $3 billion, slashing $9 billion in expenses at an annual rate by the end of the year. The world's largest automaker had previously said it wanted to achieve $6 billion in structural cost reductions at an annual rate, also known as a running-rate basis, by the end of the year.

- AP

Rates on 30-year mortgages highest since mid-Nov.

Rates on 30-year mortgages rose this week to the highest level since mid-November after a better-than-expected employment report renewed inflation worries in financial markets. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.21 percent this week, up from 6.18 percent last week. It was the highest level since 30-year mortgages stood at 6.24 percent the week of Nov. 16.

- AP

$9 billion of 10-year inflation-indexed notes sold

The U.S. Treasury sold $9 billion of 10-year inflation-indexed notes at a yield of 2.449 percent. The securities are intended to provide a hedge against rising consumer prices. At the previous auction, on Oct. 12, the notes drew a high yield of 2.426 percent. The rise or fall in value of inflation-indexed notes tracks changes in the Consumer Price Index calculated by the Labor Department.

- Bloomberg News