Business news in brief

Peter J. Adamo, regional chief of Prime Healthcare Services Inc., outside Roxborough Memorial Hospital.
Peter J. Adamo, regional chief of Prime Healthcare Services Inc., outside Roxborough Memorial Hospital. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff)
Posted: February 07, 2013

In the Region

45,000 added to N.J. care program

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey added 45,000 members to a program that pays primary-care doctors' practices to take a proactive role in coordinating care, making sure patients get needed tests and follow through on treatment plans. The expansion, which includes nine practices in South Jersey, brings to 200,000 the number of Horizon members in the model known as the patient-centered medical home. Horizon said the program has improved diabetes control and boosted the rate of breast and cervical cancer screenings. - Harold Brubaker

Prime discloses investigations

Prime Healthcare Services Inc., the California company that owns Roxborough Memorial and Lower Bucks Hospitals, disclosed last month in an application to buy a Rhode Island hospital that it is subject to two federal investigations, California Watch, an investigative journalism nonprofit, reported. Prime said that in June it received a subpoena for documents related to allegations involving Medicare billings. The second investigation involves allegations that one of Prime's hospitals violated patient confidentiality laws. Prime skirted a question about investigations in a written statement to The Inquirer in November, saying: "Prime Healthcare believes any future scrutiny will show that its hospitals are committed to following all state and federal laws and regulations." - Harold Brubaker

Customers Bank expands

Customers Bank, the $4 billion-asset, Wyomissing-based lender assembled by former Sovereign Bank chief executive Jay S. Sidhu, said it has bought its way into the New England business-lending market by buying $151 million in local business loans (and a total of $190 million in loan commitments), at a 1.3 percent discount to the portfolio's total value, from Michigan-based Flagstar Bank. Sidhu said the deal includes Sovereign Bank veteran Steve Issa and other Flagstar lenders. He said Customers has two bank acquisitions pending that it plans to close in the first half of 2013. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Almac opens Audubon facility

Almac Group Ltd., a 3,300-employee Irish enterprise that helps pharmaceutical companies get their products packaged and ready for regulatory review, has opened a

$10 million commercial packaging manufacturing plant in Audubon, Montgomery County. The plant, which now employs 27, is expected to employ 80 in the next two years. Almac opened its United States headquarters in Souderton in May 2011 and employs 833 there. Almac facilities in the United Kingdom will manufacture three bulk tablet and capsule products - the final bottle and blister packaging will occur in Audubon. - Jane M. Von Bergen

Elsewhere

RBS fined $610M in Libor scandal

Britain's Royal Bank of Scotland, parent of Citizens Bank, became the third major bank to be caught up in a global probe of interest rate manipulation. What makes the $610 million fine against the lender remarkable is how it will be paid: by the bankers themselves. The bank - 80 percent owned by the government - plans to cut 2012 bonuses and claw back previous payouts from staffers implicated in the fraud, their managers and some other employees. To take money from the corporation would, in effect, amount to making British citizens pay for the bank's role in the scandal. RBS, Barclays of the United Kingdom, and UBS of Switzerland were found to have rigged the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, which provides a basis for trillions of dollars in contracts around the world; including mortgages, bonds and consumer loans. - AP

IPO market is heating up

Riding a United States housing recovery and a booming stock market, building materials maker Boise Cascade jumped 25 percent in its market debut. It's the latest solid first-day gain for an IPO, boding well for other companies that want to raise money by going public. Cruise company Norwegian Cruise Line rose 30 percent in its Jan. 18 debut, and has kept rising. Child care provider Bright Horizons gained 27 percent on Jan. 25. Homebuilder Tri Pointe added 12 percent on Jan. 31. - AP

$16B deal for Virgin Media

Liberty Global Inc., the cable TV operator controlled by media mogul John Malone, is buying United Kingdom-based Virgin Media Inc. in a $16 billion deal that steps up the rivalry between Malone and fellow billionaire Rupert Murdoch. The combination will provide stiffer competition in the United Kingdom to satellite TV provider BSkyB, in which Murdoch's News Corp. owns a

40 percent stake. The combined company will become one of the world's largest providers of cable TV, Internet and phone services, with 25 million customers in 14 countries. Liberty Global shares fell $1.82, or 2.7 percent, to $66.06. - AP

Answers on 787 'weeks away'

Investigators are "weeks away" from determining what caused battery failures on Boeing Co.'s grounded 787 Dreamliner jet, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board said. Deborah Hersman's comments underscore the views of U.S. regulators that a lifting of the grounding order isn't imminent. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said this week that any resumption of production flights or ferry flights would wait until "the investigation is done." Boeing asked the Federal Aviation Administration for approval to resume test flights with the 787 while grounding orders from the agency and regulators worldwide remain in place for airlines operating Dreamliners in commercial service. The FAA is considering that request. - Bloomberg News

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