Business news in brief

Posted: February 09, 2012

In the Region

Capsule inhaler tested by Glaxo

GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C. is testing a capsule-based inhaler, suggesting the United Kingdom's biggest drugmaker is exploring a cheaper version of its best-selling asthma therapy for emerging markets or to compete with generic versions. Glaxo, which has about 5,000 employees in the Philadelphia area, completed a 60-patient, midstage trial in June comparing its Advair Diskus dry-powder inhaler with the capsule-based version of the drug-device combination, according to a posting on the clinicaltrials.gov website. The patent for Advair will expire in Europe next year. - Bloomberg News

Sheridan to take helm at AmeriGas

Jerry E. Sheridan, 46, the vice president and chief operating officer of AmeriGas Partners L.P. of Valley Forge, will succeed Eugene V.N. Bissell as president and chief executive officer March 2, the company announced Wednesday. Bissell, 58, has been employed by AmeriGas or its parent company, UGI Corp., since 1981. His retirement plans had been previously announced. R. Paul Grady will succeed Sheridan as vice president and chief operating officer. AmeriGas is the nation's largest retail propane marketer, serving more than two million customers. UGI is the general partner and owns 29 percent of the AmeriGas partnership units.

- Andrew Maykuth

Fewer foreclosures in 2011

CoreLogic, the real estate information provider, said Wednesday that completed foreclosures for all of 2011 totaled 830,000, compared with 1.1 million in 2010. December foreclosures fell 2,000, from 57,000 in November to 55,000. The December rate was 12,000 lower than the 67,000 foreclosures completed in the same month of 2010. From the start of the financial crisis in September 2008, there have been about 3.2 million completed foreclosures, CoreLogic said.

- Alan J. Heavens

Drilling violations cited

Natural gas companies drilling in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region accumulated 3,355 violations in the four years from 2008 through 2011, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the nonprofit organization PennEnvironment. More than 70 percent of the violations likely posed a direct threat to the environment, as opposed to violations that involved filing deadlines or paperwork, the organization said. It identified the operators with the most violations as Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (412), Chesapeake Appalachia L.L.C. (393), and Chief Oil & Gas L.L.C. (313). The companies with the highest average number of violations per well were Guardian Exploration L.L.C. (11), AB Resources PA L.L.C. (9), and JW Operating Co. (5.3), PennEnvironment said.

- Sandy Bauers

Elsewhere

Amazon and Viacom add to video

Amazon.com Inc. entered an agreement with Viacom Inc., the owner of the Nickelodeon and MTV cable networks, to expand its online video library to 15,000. Amazon Prime members will be able to watch shows from MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and TV Land, among other channels, the Seattle-based company said Wednesday. Financial terms were not disclosed. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, added films from News Corp.'s Fox and Warner Bros. and video service in part to add value to the Kindle Fire tablet. - Bloomberg News

Finland's Nokia cuts 4,000 jobs

Nokia Corp. will stop assembling cellphones in Europe by the end of the year as it shifts production to Asia and cuts an additional 4,000 jobs in the latest attempts to cushion itself from stiff competition in the smartphone sector. The Finnish company said the job cuts would be in Finland, Mexico, and Hungary as it reorganizes global manufacturing operations to compete better with Apple Inc.'s iPhone and handsets using Google Inc.'s Android operating software. The cuts come on top of nearly 10,000 layoffs announced last year. - AP

CEO at 3M Co. set to retire

With his employment contract set to expire this month, 3M Co. CEO George Buckley will retire June 1, the company announced Wednesday. The company named chief operating officer Inge Thulin to replace him, effective Feb. 24. Thulin will also join 3M's board. Wall Street has been waiting for the Maplewood, Minn., company to name a new CEO. After Buckley hit 3M's mandatory retirement age of 65, analysts clamored for information about a succession plan. Thulin has been COO since May 2011. Before that he was executive vice president of international operations.

- AP

Test version of Windows 8 on tap

 

Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software-maker, will unveil the first broadly available test version of the Windows 8 operating system Feb. 29 in Barcelona, Spain, at a mobile industry show. The Redmond, Wash., company sent invitations to show the test product, called the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Microsoft is relying on the newest version of Windows to make headway in the tablet-computer market. The company has declined to say when Windows 8 will be officially released.

- Bloomberg News

iPhone hasn't yet paid off for Sprint

Nabbing the iPhone was a victory for Sprint Nextel, but the blockbuster handset has yet to pay off in profits for the company. Sprint Nextel, the No. 3 cellphone carrier, Wednesday reported a net income loss in the fourth quarter of $1.3 billion, or 43 cents a share, in contrast to a net loss of $929 million in the same quarter a year ago. The company said revenue climbed 5 percent, to $8.7 billion. Excluding charges, the loss was 35 cents a share. The iPhone had a negative impact on the balance sheet due to costs of equipment and subsidies of the handset, the company said.

- New York Times News Service

Economist sees higher home sales

David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, said he expected U.S. sales of new homes and single-family home construction to improve this year over 2011, when they hit record lows. Crowe's projections still leave new-home sales and construction this year well below the levels of a healthy housing market.

- AP

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