Business news in brief

Germany has set high goals to increase the renewable energies share of domestic power production, yet critics decry the perceived high cost. The country's top environment and economy officials have proposed measures that would cut subsidies to the renewable energy industry, but industry reps say they would stifle renewable energy growth. Here, in Mehrum, a coal-fired power plant looms over houses.
Germany has set high goals to increase the renewable energies share of domestic power production, yet critics decry the perceived high cost. The country's top environment and economy officials have proposed measures that would cut subsidies to the renewable energy industry, but industry reps say they would stifle renewable energy growth. Here, in Mehrum, a coal-fired power plant looms over houses. (SEAN GALLUP / Getty Images)
Posted: March 05, 2013

In the Region

Pa. Feb. slots revenue down 9.2%

Total revenue generated by slot machines at Pennsylvania casinos during February fell 9.2 percent compared with last year, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said. February's gross slot revenue at 11 operating casinos was $195.9 million compared with $215.7 million in February 2012. Among the 10 casinos operating this year that were also open for the full month of February 2012, revenue sank 11.5 percent. The board noted that 2012 was a leap year, so players had 3.6 percent more hours to gamble during February last year. - Andrew Maykuth

Media firm sold for $13.5M

Altosoft Inc., a Media-based developer of "business intelligence and analytics software," was purchased by "smart process applications" maker Kofax P.L.C. of Irvine, Calif., for $13.5 million, and will be run as a Kofax subsidiary, Kofax said. Altosoft founder Alex Elkin, a graduate of Moscow (Russia) State University who lives in the Boston area, started Altosoft in 2001. Altosoft has 43 employees and contractors in the United States and Russia. Chief executive Scott Opitz, 53, was named a general manager by Altosoft. He and Elkin, 47, will remain with the company, Kofax said. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Pa. gets $2M in drug settlement

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said the state will get $2 million in a settlement with Healthpoint Ltd., a Smith & Nephew subsidiary, and DFB Pharmaceuticals to resolve allegations that the companies caused false claims to be submitted to Medicaid for an unapproved drug, Xenaderm, that was ineligible for reimbursement by the program. The money is part of a $48 million settlement between the U.S. Justice Department and the companies. The state's money will be returned to the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare. - David Sell

Heinz CEO gets golden parachute

H.J. Heinz Co. CEO William Johnson is entitled to a golden parachute worth $56 million if he is fired by the Pittsburgh company's new owners. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital announced last month that they were buying the ketchup maker for $23.3 billion. Pittsburgh-based Heinz disclosed Johnson's deal in a regulatory filing. Johnson is also entitled to a payout of $99.7 million in vested stock and $57 million in deferred compensation benefits that he accrued over his 30-year career with Heinz. - AP

Website opens for job seekers

A website to help job seekers was debuted by Philadelphia Works, the government-funded workforce development organization. The website, www.philaworks.org/job-seekers/welcome, links job postings that come through Pennsylvania's CareerLink website with information about free workshops on resumé building and interviewing skills as well as

data on employment trends from the state's Department of Labor and Industry. - Jane M. Von Bergen

Checkpoint wants to sell CheckView

Checkpoint Systems Inc., of Thorofare, which develops supply-chain-control systems to stop theft, said it had engaged an investment banker to help sell its U.S. and Canadian CheckView business, a surveillance system for retailers. "Discussions are taking place with a potential buyer," Checkpoint said in a statement, without naming the potential buyer. Shares closed down 27 cents, to $11.59, before the announcement. - Reid Kanaley

Elsewhere

Hess to exit retail operations

Hess Corp. will rid itself of its retail operations as well as its energy trading and marketing businesses as it shifts its focus further into exploration and production. The company will also nominate a slate of six independent directors to its board, replacing six who already hold seats. The announcement arrives about a month after the hedge fund Elliott Management, one of the company's largest shareholders, accused the board of poor oversight, and said the company's management was responsible for more than a "decade of failures." Shares gained $2.30, or 3.5 percent, to $68.84. - AP

Fed's No. 2 backs continued policies

The No. 2 official at the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, said she did not see any immediate risks from the Fed's low-interest-rate policies that would prompt her to urge that they be curtailed. The comments from the Fed vice chairwoman to a policy conference sponsored by the National Association for Business Economics echoed remarks Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made last week. Critics both inside and outside of the Fed have warned that the efforts could generate higher future inflation or market instability. The Fed is buying $85 billion per month in Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities to push long-term rates lower. - AP

Latvia applies to adopt the euro

Latvia has formally applied to adopt the euro in 2014, a move that could see the Baltic state become the bloc's 18th member. The move had been expected and comes after Latvia met the required financial criteria, including levels of state debt, budget deficit and inflation. Polls, however, indicate that nearly two-thirds of Latvia's population is against swapping the lat for the euro, which only last year some investors were betting would collapse. - AP

DOT: Aviation inspectors needed

U.S. aviation regulators do not have enough investigators to examine close calls in the skies, which have increased more than 50 percent since 2009, according to a report by the Transportation Department's inspector general. The Federal Aviation Administration has maintained that most of the rise is due to improved reporting and not an actual increase in the risks of midair or runway collisions. - Bloomberg News

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