Business News in Brief

A newly poured foundation for a home in Chicago's Humboldt Park, next to a new sustainable home on the market. Sales of new homes were up dramatically in May. SCOTT OLSON/Getty Images
A newly poured foundation for a home in Chicago's Humboldt Park, next to a new sustainable home on the market. Sales of new homes were up dramatically in May. SCOTT OLSON/Getty Images
Posted: June 26, 2012

IN THE REGION

Brandywine venture in $120.6M deal

A Brandywine Realty Trust joint venture agreed to buy three Silver Spring, Md., office buildings totaling 499,395 square feet of space for $120.6 million, the Radnor company said. Brandywine's partner in the joint venture is a subsidiary of Allstate Insurance Co. The seller is a joint venture between Urdang, a BNY Mellon Co. based in Plymouth Meeting, and Moore & Assoc. of Bethesda, Md. The deal is expected to close July 10. — Harold Brubaker

Teva shares up on patent news

Shares of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. climbed Monday in the first trading day after a federal court reaffirmed patents protecting the drugmaker's biggest brand-name product, the multiple sclerosis treatment Copaxone. The Israeli company has North American operations in North Wales, Pa. Its U.S.-traded shares rose 4.5 percent, or $1.71, to close at $39.72. — AP

Accenture hired for Campbell tasks

Campbell Soup Co., Camden, has hired Accenture to handle back-office financial operations, such as credit, billing and collections, and will eliminate about 70 of the 110 jobs in its Cherry Hill office over the next eight to 10 months, Campbell spokesman Anthony Sanzio said. Sanzio did not provide an estimate of how much the move would save, but said the savings would be "significant." Under new chief executive Denise Morrison, Campbell is attempting to rebound from a protracted growth slump, but its stock continues to struggle. Campbell's shares closed down 6 cents at $32 Monday. — Harold Brubaker

Assembly OKs mobile gambling

The State Assembly approved, 77-0-2, legislation to allow mobile gambling devices at Atlantic City casinos. The bill would allow the Shore resort to offer what Las Vegas has offered since 2006. The bill would allow patrons to enjoy gaming while waiting for a dinner reservation at a casino restaurant, at a casino lounge, or poolside at any of A.C.'s casinos. The mobile gaming device must not extend outside the property boundaries of a casino hotel facility. The full Senate, which must concur on the amended Assembly bill, likely will take it up Thursday. — Suzette Parmley

SAIC takes issue with contract loss

SAIC Inc., which provides technology services to the U.S. government, has protested the loss of its biggest federal contract to Lockheed Martin Corp. Lockheed on June 15 beat SAIC for the Defense Department contract valued at as much as $4.6 billion to operate a communications network. Much of the work will be done at Fort Meade, Md., by employees of Lockheed's Information Systems & Global Solutions-Defense business unit, of Valley Forge. SAIC filed its challenge on Friday with the U.S. Government Accountability Office. "We feel our solution is the best value for the customer and we are proud of our performance history on this contract," an SAIC spokeswoman said in a statement.   — Bloomberg News

Hershey looking for acquisitions

Hershey Co. chief executive officer John P. Bilbrey said acquisitions would be the priority for the Hershey, Pa., chocolate maker's cash as the company looks to take confectionery-market share in North America and expand abroad. The company sees $10 billion in potential local and regional acquisitions across the globe, Chief growth officer Michele Buck said Monday during an investor meeting in New York. — Bloomberg News

U.S. says Pa. should refund money

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare should refund $7.95 million in excess payments for the Medicaid Behavioral HealthChoices program to the federal government, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said. Federal officials said the money was the federal share of $15 million that Philadelphia returned to the state in 2009. The inspector general's report also said Pennsylvania should develop better internal controls to ensure that the state properly refunds money due to the federal government. The state said in its response to the report that it did not believe the refund was warranted and asserted that it does have adequate internal controls. — Harold Brubaker

ELSEWHERE

$405M for some Madoff investors

Investors in four funds that lost more than $1.2 billion in Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme will receive $405 million in payouts over the next three years, New York's attorney general said. A settlement with hedge fund manager J. Ezra Merkin was approved Friday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan. It settled state civil charges filed in 2009 claiming breach of fiduciary duty by Merkin. He had collected management fees while steering assets to Madoff from Ariel Fund Ltd., Gabriel Capital L.P., Ascot Fund Ltd. and Ascot Partners L.P. — AP

Microsoft to purchase Yammer

Microsoft Corp. agreed to buy corporate social-network operator Yammer Inc. for $1.2 billion in cash to help it woo businesses with Facebook-like tools that help employees collaborate in the workplace. Yammer provides features to more than 200,000 companies such as Ford Motor Co. and eBay Inc. It specializes in building private social networks that enable employees within the company to track each other's work.  — Bloomberg News

Pace of new-home sales rises

Americans bought new homes in May at the fastest pace in more than two years. The increase suggests a modest recovery is continuing in the U.S. housing market, despite weaker job growth. The Commerce Department said that sales of new homes increased 7.6 percent in May from April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000 homes. That's the best pace since April 2010, the last month that buyers could qualify for a federal home-buying tax credit. Even with the gains, the annual sales pace is less than half the 700,000 that economists consider to be healthy. Yet the increase follows other signs that show the housing market is slowly improving nearly five years after the bubble burst. Mortgage rates have plunged to the lowest levels on record, making home-buying more affordable.   — AP

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