Business news in brief

Posted: January 29, 2013

In the Region

Glaxo to team up for vaccine in India

GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C. agreed to form a joint venture in India to produce a six-in-one vaccine to immunize children in developing countries against infectious diseases. The London-based drugmaker, which has significant operations in the Philadelphia area, has agreed to form a 50-50 venture with India's Biological E Ltd. to develop a product that would combine Glaxo's injectable polio shot with a vaccine produced by Biological E that protects against five diseases, including diphtheria and tetanus. - Bloomberg News

Five Below will open 1st Texas stores

Five Below Inc., a Center City discount retailer geared toward preteens and teens, said it would enter the Texas market this year by opening up to five stores in Austin and up to 12 stores in Dallas by the late summer. The company intends to open 60 stores this year. Founded in 2002, Five Below operated 243 stories in 18 states on the East Coast and in the Midwest as of Oct. 27. - Inquirer staff

American Airlines raises possible

American Airlines ground workers would get immediate 4.3 percent raises if the carrier merges with US Airways, under a deal negotiated by the workers' union and both airlines. The money would be in addition to terms of contracts that mechanics, bag handlers, and other workers accepted in recent months. The raises would take effect only if approved by the federal judge overseeing American's bankruptcy overhaul. US Airways, the dominant carrier at Philadelphia International Airport, and American have been discussing a potential merger for months. - AP

BAE Systems will lay off 300

Defense contractor BAE Systems P.L.C. is laying off 300 employees, two-thirds of them at its plant in southern New Hampshire. The company, based in London, said that affected employees will be notified by March 4. About 4,600 employees work at the plant in Nashua, N.H. Other reductions in the 11,000-employee workforce will occur in Wayne, N.J.; Greenlawn and Endicott, N.Y.; Manassas, Va.; and Austin, Texas. BAE has one location in the Philadelphia area, an Intelligence and Security unit in Mount Laurel. - AP

Barnes & Noble to close more stores

Barnes & Noble reportedly plans to continue to shrink its store base in the face of competition from online retailers and discounters. The head of Barnes & Noble's retail group, Mitchel Klipper, said in an interview published Monday in the Wall Street Journal that the company would have 450 to 500 stores in a decade. That's down from about 689 currently, including 15 stores in the Philadelphia area. - AP

Elsewhere

Hess to close North Jersey refinery

Hess Corp. said that it planned to sell its U.S. terminal network and shutter its New Jersey refinery, completing its exit from the refining business and continuing its shift in focus toward exploration and production. The Port Reading refinery, which has a production capacity of about 70,000 barrels per day and is about 10 miles from New York City, will be closed by the end of February, meaning the loss of about 170 jobs. Hess' network of 19 storage terminals is located along the East Coast and primarily had served the Hovensa refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which was shut down last February. The New York-based Hess also disclosed that the investment firm Elliott Associates L.P. and one of its affiliates planned to ask federal regulators for permission to buy a major stake in the company and might seek board seats at the annual meeting in May. Shares of Hess rose 6.1 percent, or $3.58, to close at $62.48. - AP

CFA probes how auto rates are set

The largest U.S. auto insurers weigh occupation and education levels more than driving records to set rates for minimum-liability coverage, said the Consumer Federation of America, citing a review of a dozen cities. The group compared quotes from State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., Allstate Corp., Progressive Corp., Geico and Farmers Insurance for two fictional 30-year-old female drivers - an executive and a receptionist. Controlling for variables like zip code and car model, the group found that the executive got a lower quote in most cases than the receptionist. - Bloomberg News

Columbia Gas to upgrade pipelines

The parent of Columbia Gas Transmission has won federal approval for a plan to spend $300 million a year through 2017 on improvements to its Appalachian pipeline system. Indiana-based NiSource Inc. said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the plan for Columbia Gas Transmission's lines in West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, and Kentucky. The $1.5 billion plan stems from a consumer settlement that is unrelated to the December explosion of a Columbia transmission line near Sissonville, W. Va., that destroyed several homes. - AP

  

More optimism about U.S. growth

A quarterly survey by the National Association for Business Economics released Monday showed that half of the 65 economists polled now expect real gross domestic product - the value of all goods and services produced in the United States - to grow between 2 and 4 percent in 2013. - AP

Toyota regains global sales lead

Toyota is again the world's top automaker. On Monday, Toyota Motor Corp. released its tally for global vehicle sales for last year at a record 9.748 million vehicles - a bigger number than the estimate it gave last month. It was already clear that Toyota had dethroned General Motors Co., as the Detroit-based automaker sold 9.29 million vehicles. GM had been the top-selling automaker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008. GM retook the sales crown in 2011, when Toyota's production was hurt by the quake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. - AP

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