Business news in brief

An employee at Toyota Biotechnology and Afforestation Laboratory works to extract biofuel cellulosic ethanol from Napier grass at the laboratory in Miyoshi City, Japan, on Monday. Toyota has been investing in alternative energy to lessen the risk of power outages at its domestic plants and to help it cope in case of power disruptions in the future.
An employee at Toyota Biotechnology and Afforestation Laboratory works to extract biofuel cellulosic ethanol from Napier grass at the laboratory in Miyoshi City, Japan, on Monday. Toyota has been investing in alternative energy to lessen the risk of power outages at its domestic plants and to help it cope in case of power disruptions in the future. (KIMIMASA MAYAMA / Bloomberg)
Posted: October 04, 2011

In the Region

C&D Technologies to be taken private

An affiliate of Angelo, Gordon & Co., a New York investment firm specializing in distressed debt, said Monday it signed a definitive agreement to pay $52 million for the 35 percent of C&D Technologies Inc. shares that it does not already own. The going-private deal, originally announced in June, values C&D, a Blue Bell manufacturer of electrical-power storage and conversion systems, at $148 million. Angelo, Gordon acquired much of its equity stake in C&D through notes that converted to equity. A regulatory filing last year showed that Angelo, Gordon paid $47 million for C&D notes with a face value of $87 million, a discount of 46 percent. -Harold Brubaker

Abington Bancorp deal completed

Susquehanna Bancshares Inc., of Lititz, Pa., completed its purchase of Abington Bancorp Inc. for $144.5 million in stock. Abington was based in Jenkintown and had $1.1 billion in assets and 20 branches in Montgomery, Bucks and Delaware Counties. Susquehanna has more than $15 billion in assets and 240 branches in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and West Virginia. It also is buying Tower Bancorp Inc. in a deal that will significantly boost Susquehanna's Chester County presence. -Harold Brubaker

Law firm mergers on the rise

Mergers among U.S. law firms rose 79 percent through the first three quarters of this year for a total of 43 deals, industry consultant Altman Weil Inc., of Newtown Square, said. The majority of them involved acquisitions of firms with 35 or fewer lawyers, continuing the trend toward smaller deals. -Bloomberg News

Elsewhere

Obama sends trade pacts to Congress

The White House sent three long-delayed trade agreements to Congress, putting the deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama on a path toward final passage after years of political limbo. The president has made the trade pacts a centerpiece of his economic agenda, saying that the agreements would boost U.S. exports by $13 billion annually. -AP

ABC News to provide Yahoo content

Yahoo Inc., the most-visited U.S. Web portal, struck a partnership in which ABC News will become the leading provider of news for Yahoo! News, the companies said. Also, editorial teams from the organizations will collaborate on stories. Separately, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., a Chinese company, in which Yahoo holds a 40 percent stake, may be interested in buying Yahoo, Alibaba chief executive officer Jack Ma said. -Bloomberg News

Senate bill targets China

The U.S. Senate is advancing legislation to punish China for undervaluing its currency and taking away American jobs. While the bill has bipartisan backing, opponents question whether it would boost the American economy or initiate a damaging trade war with a major trading partner. The Obama White House, while agreeing that China's yuan is unervalued, is leery of taking bilateral action against China, and House Republican leaders have shown no interest in bringing the bill to a vote. It does not mention China by name but sets in motion a process for imposing punitive tariffs on any country with misaligned currencies. -AP

Calif. insurer won't cover Avastin

Blue Shield of California will no longer pay for the use of Genentech Inc.'s drug Avastin to treat breast cancer, a sign support for the widely debated and expensive treatment may be eroding among health plans. Blue Shield, with 3.2 million members, is apparently the first large insurer to end payments since a federal advisory committee unanimously recommended in June that the Food and Drug Administration rescind Avastin's approval as a breast cancer treatment, saying it did not really help patients. It retains its approval, pending a decision by FDA commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg. -New York Times News Service

Truck sales pace auto industry

U.S. buyers shrugged off economic worries and snapped up SUVs and pickups last month, surprising the auto industry and raising hopes that a bumpy year will end on a high note. Truck sales at General Motors Co., Chrysler Group L.L.C. and Ford Motor Co. grew in the double digits, outpacing cars. Overall vehicle sales rose 10 percent from last September, according to Autodata Corp. -AP

Report: Home-care firms overbooked

Senate investigators are accusing three of the nation's biggest home-care providers of deliberately increasing their visits to patients to get higher payments from Medicare. A report released by the Senate Finance Committee laid out strategies used by Amedisys Inc. of Baton Rouge, La., LHC Group Inc. of Lafayette, La., and Gentiva Health Services Inc. of Atlanta to increase home care, even when patients may not have required extra attention. Amedisys says it stands by its integrity; spokesmen for the other companies could not be reached. -AP

BofA website problems continue

Bank of America's website, plagued by problems Friday and Saturday but supposedly fixed on Sunday, wasn't working again Monday. Many users trying to access bankofamerica.com get a message saying the home page is temporarily unavailable. Bank spokeswoman Tara Burke said the access problems were a result of the bank managing traffic volume during peak use. "We've simply taken some proactive measures to manage customer traffic during peak hours during the day," she said. -AP

Merrill advisers rebuffed on bias suit

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive a bid to sue Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch unit for allegedly paying 700 black financial advisers less than their white counterparts. The justices rejected an appeal by 17 current and former financial advisers who sought to press a class action race-discrimination suit against Merrill. A federal trial judge said the 700 advisers didn't have enough in common for the case to proceed as a single class action. -Bloomberg News

$500M jobs program falls short

The U.S. Labor Department's inspector general said a $500 million program to train workers for green jobs has come up far short of its goals. The report found that only about 8,000 people participating in the program have actually found work so far - or 10 percent of the target goal of placing 80,000 workers in careers in energy efficiency or renewable energy by 2013. -AP

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