Business news in brief

Pedestrians walk through the More London office space against the backdrop of Tower Bridge, in London, U.K., on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. U.K. banks are increasingly concerned about their ability to attract employees as hiring in financial services rose in the first quarter, according to a survey by Britain's biggest business lobby group. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Pedestrians walk through the More London office space against the backdrop of Tower Bridge, in London, U.K., on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. U.K. banks are increasingly concerned about their ability to attract employees as hiring in financial services rose in the first quarter, according to a survey by Britain's biggest business lobby group. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Posted: April 04, 2012

In the Region

Pa. slot revenue sets record

Pennsylvania's 11 casinos pulled in more than $233.1 million in gross slot machine revenue last month, setting an all-time monthly high since the state's first casino opened in November 2006 and cementing the state's status as the nation's second-largest gambling market. The slots totals released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board include revenue from two test nights and one day of operations at the state's 11th casino, Valley Forge Casino Resort, which opened Saturday. Overall, the figures broke the previous monthly record of $218.3 million set in July, and they represent an 8.5 percent increase over March 2011. - AP

Hearing set on Medco acquisition

A federal judge in Pittsburgh scheduled a hearing for April 10 to consider a request for a preliminary injunction to halt Express Scripts' $29.1 billion acquisition of Medco Health Solutions. Attorneys for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, and nine retail pharmacy companies near Pittsburgh filed suit last week in federal court, trying to stop the merger of the two pharmacy benefit managers. Express Scripts completed the deal Monday morning after the Federal Trade Commission voted not to stop it on antitrust grounds. The pharmacy groups went into court Monday afternoon seeking a temporary restraining order. - David Sell

Wegmans tops supermarket list

Wegmans and Trader Joe's were the top-rated supermarkets and Pathmark was in last place in a survey of readers of Consumer Reports. The rankings, which measured overall satisfaction with the shopping experience and drew from 24,203 responses to a survey of shopping experiences in April 2011 compared to the same month a year earlier, resulted in a rating of 88 out of 100 for Wegmans and 86 for Trader Joe's. A score of 80 meant customers were very satisfied, on average, and 60 meant fairly satisfied. Further down the list were Whole Foods Market, rating 81, Giant and Shop Rite at 78, Acme at 73, and Pathmark at 68. - Maria Panaritis

Real-estate trust to sell shares

Brandywine Realty Trust, of Radnor, said it intends to raise a net $96.3 million in a public offering of 4 million shares. The company will use $50 million of the proceeds to fund a previously announced redemption of 2 million outstanding redeemable preferred shares. The rest will go to general corporate purposes, which Brandywine said may include acquisitions, real estate development activities, and repurchases or redemption of other debt or shares. Brandywine owns, leases and manages an office real estate portfolio of 305 properties and 34.6 million square feet. - Reid Kanaley

Two credit unions merge

The Pennsylvania Department of Banking approved the merger of Kenrick Federal Credit Union, of Bryn Mawr, with Trumark Financial Credit Union, of Trevose. Kenrick, founded in 1956, had 319 members and $1.3 million in deposits at the end of 2011, according to iBanknet, an online information service. Trumark had 96,134 members and $1.2 billion in deposits at the end of last year. Kenrick was significantly undercapitalized, according to iBanknet. - Harold Brubaker

Pew Trusts to fund support for aged

The Pew Charitable Trusts said it will give $4.39 million over the next three years to 31 Philadelphia-area organizations that help support individuals age 65 and older who are struggling to maintain their independence and well-being. The money from the Pew Fund for Health and Human Services will be split between groups that assist the elderly in meeting basic needs, such as food and housing; those that fight depression and social isolation among the elderly; and some that help informal care-givers provide high-quality care through respite, training, and other support services. - Harold Brubaker


Plea for IMF 'firepower'

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund made an impassioned plea for American leadership in the global economy as she called for the international community to give her organization "more firepower" to bolster tottering economies. Christine Lagarde told the annual meeting of the Associated Press that last week's move by eurozone countries to boost their own rescue fund has strengthened her case to ask other large economies to expand the IMF's financial war chest. - AP

Facebook-Yahoo dispute heats up

Facebook Inc. is stepping up its patent dispute with Yahoo Inc. by filing its own lawsuit against the struggling Internet icon. Facebook's lawsuit came just weeks after Yahoo claimed that Facebook violated 10 patents covering advertising, privacy controls and social networking. Facebook denied Yahoo's allegation and accused Yahoo of violating 10 of its patents covering photo tagging, advertising, online recommendations and more. - AP

WellCare agrees to $137.5M settlement

Federal prosecutors say a Tampa-based health-care provider has agreed to pay $137.5 million to settle four lawsuits involving fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims in nine states. The suits claimed WellCare Health Plans Inc. falsely inflated the amount it claimed to be spending on medical care to avoid returning the money to Medicaid and other programs. The suits also accused the company of knowingly retaining overpayments received and falsifying medical data. WellCare will make fixed payments, plus interest, over three years to the federal government and to Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New York, and Ohio. - AP

Groupon shares sink

Groupon Inc.'s stock has closed at its lowest level ever amid growing scrutiny over its business just five months after it went public. Shares closed at $15.02, the lowest since the company went public in November, when its initial public offering of stock priced at $20. The Chicago-based company is also facing a shareholder lawsuit and a possible review by federal regulators. It revised its fourth-quarter earnings on Friday, lowering its reported revenue and widening its losses. Groupon said it hadn't set enough money aside for refunds. - AP

Tech patents disputed in Europe

The European Union's competition office opened two antitrust investigations into Motorola Mobility's possible abuse of its patents after complaints by two rivals, Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. The cases are the latest stage in what has become a full-blown battle over the ownership of essential technologies that help power mobile and game devices. The fight has engulfed Google Inc., which is buying Motorola Mobility, and virtually all the other major players in the industry. The European Commission opened two cases to look at separate accusations by Microsoft, which is concerned about access to video and wireless patents for its products, including the Xbox, and by Apple, which is concerned about access to other wireless patents for the iPhone and iPad. - New York Times News Service

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