Business news in brief

Posted: January 30, 2013

In the Region

Supervalu execs' golden parachutes

As part of the complex $3.3 billion transaction that will mean a new owner for Acme Markets, the top management of Supervalu Inc. will receive a total of $22.8 million in "golden parachute" payments. In documents filed with federal regulators, Supervalu outlined the payments to four senior executives, including $12.8 million promised to Wayne C. Sales, Supervalu's non-executive chairman, who had replaced Craig R. Herkert as chief executive of the struggling grocery retailer July 30. The purchase of Malvern-based Acme and four other supermarket chains by a group of private-equity firms is expected to close by March 31. - Mike Armstrong

Tracking inmates' jobless benefits

Tracking down inmates who receive unemployment benefits while incarcerated in Pennsylvania's state and county prisons will save the state's unemployment insurance fund $12 million a year, officials said in announcing a new program Tuesday to cross-match lists of incarcerated inmates with those receiving benefits. Eligibility for benefits depends on availability to work, and inmates, including the 3,000 claimants now in jail, aren't available. A Department of Labor spokeswoman said the agency is not sure how it would be handled if an inmate were found innocent and, therefore, available for work had he not been wrongly arrested. - Jane M. Von Bergen

Pa. restarts Sunshine Solar Program

Pennsylvania is reactivating its Sunshine Solar Program, which spurred a flurry of solar installations across the state until funds were exhausted in August 2011. The Department of Environmental Protection announced Tuesday that the Commonwealth Financing Authority is providing $7.25 million for the program, which gives rebates of up to $7,500 for residential photovoltaic installations and $52,500 for small businesses. The rebates are arranged by qualified installers. The funds should provide rebates for about 400 projects on a waiting list that were completed in 2011 when funds ran out, and for about 400 new installations this year. A list of approved installers is available at www.dep.state.pa.us, keyword: Sunshine. - Andrew Maykuth

Pabst's owner eyes Hostess lines

Hostess Brands Inc.'s dismantling continued this week as bidders, including the owner of Pabst Brewing Co., emerged to buy the bankrupt company's bread and cake brands. C. Dean Metropoulos & Co., the private-equity firm that owns Pabst, is one of the likely stalking-horse bidders for cake brands such as Twinkies and Ho Hos, according to a person close to the deal. Metropoulos would be joined by private-equity firm Apollo Global Management, the source said. In November, a federal bankruptcy judge gave Hostess the go-ahead to wind down after failed negotiations with its striking bakers union. About 330 of the bakery union's 6,600 Hostess members were employed at the company's Northeast Philadelphia plant. - Los Angeles Times

Highmark asks judge to uphold deal

Pennsylvania's largest insurance company, Pittsburgh-based Highmark Inc., has asked a federal judge to honor a settlement agreement it reached with class-action plaintiffs, whose lawyers have asked that the pact be nixed. Under the settlement, Highmark would pay $4.5 million to lawyers for several ratepayers and would also guarantee to take certain steps to support competition between insurers in the market and provide the plaintiffs' lawyers with documents and testimony that they could use against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the other defendant in the case. The plaintiffs' lawyers say Highmark deceived them regarding the steps it would take. The 2010 suit claimed Highmark and UPMC conspired to control the health-care market and charge excessive premiums and reimbursement rates. - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A legal battle over Kevlar

DuPont Co. is feuding with sports-equipment maker Easton-Bell Sports over the use of the Kevlar trademark in packaging for bicycle tires and locks. In a federal lawsuit filed in Delaware this week, DuPont claims that Easton-Bell's prominent use of the Kevlar trademark on tire and lock packages infringes on DuPont's trademark, and suggests that DuPont endorses or sponsors the tire and lock products, which it does not. Efforts at a licensing deal failed, and Easton-Bell instead filed its own lawsuit in federal court in California last week, seeking a court declaration that it is not infringing on DuPont's trademarks. - AP

Elsewhere

Apple asks judge to lean on Google

Apple Inc. asked a federal judge to order Google Inc. to comply with a subpoena issued in connection with its litigation involving the search-engine company's Motorola Mobility unit. Apple said it is seeking information to help its patent-infringement lawsuit against Motorola Mobility in federal court in Miami, according to the request filed in San Jose, Calif. In that suit, Apple claims Motorola Mobility mobile phones and tablets infringe seven of its patents, according to the filing. Google paid $12.4 billion for smartphone-maker Motorola Mobility Holdings last year; in August, Google said it would cut 4,000 Motorola Mobility jobs and close about a third of its 90 facilities. Arris Group Inc. agreed to buy the Horsham-based Motorola Home unit for $2.35 billion in December. - Bloomberg News

Microsoft rolls out a new Office

Microsoft released its redesigned Office software Tuesday, aimed at the growing number of people who expect their favorite applications to be at their fingertips wherever there is an Internet connection. In an attempt to extend a lucrative franchise beyond personal computers, the world's biggest software maker is selling a retooled version of Office as an online subscription service to consumers for the first time. The release comes six months after Microsoft previewed the new-look Office, which boasts touch controls and popular word-processing and e-mail programs. - AP

European prospects hurt Ford

Ford Motor Co. is posting record profits in North America, but it's not enough to quell unease about the company's prospects elsewhere. Shares of the No. 2 U.S. automaker dropped nearly 5 percent Tuesday after the company said it expects to lose more money, $2 billion, in Europe this year and break even in Asia and South America. The final straw for investors: Ford said sales will increase next year but profits should remain about the same, dashing hopes that margins will continue to grow. Shares fell 64 cents to $13.14. Two weeks ago, shares hit an 18-month high of $14.30 after Ford said it would double its annual dividend to 40 cents per share. - AP

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