Business news in brief

Ray Conner, president of Boeing Co., received some good news Tuesday: European airline Ryanair said it would buy 175 of the company's popular 737 jets, the largest order ever placed by a European carrier. Neither side disclosed the purchase price, but Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary said it did negotiate a bulk discount off the total list price of $15.6 billion.
Ray Conner, president of Boeing Co., received some good news Tuesday: European airline Ryanair said it would buy 175 of the company's popular 737 jets, the largest order ever placed by a European carrier. Neither side disclosed the purchase price, but Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary said it did negotiate a bulk discount off the total list price of $15.6 billion. (AP)
Posted: March 20, 2013

In the Region

Comcast completes NBC deal

It's final. Comcast Corp. closed on its $16.7-billion purchase of the 49 percent of NBCUniversal it didn't already own. The cable giant announced the deal in February and it did not need federal government approvals, which had been obtained when Comcast purchased the first 51 percent of NBCUniversal in early 2011. "We are excited the transaction has closed and look forward to taking full advantage of the opportunities for growth and innovation at our combined company," Comcast said. - Bob Fernandez

Whistle-blower claims to be heard

The federal Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that Tyco Electronics Corp. - now called TE Connectivity Ltd., based in Berwyn - must face federal whistle-blower claims brought by former company accountant Jeffrey Wiest, who alleges that he was fired for disclosing fraudulent practices at the maker of electronic connectors. A lower court applied the wrong legal standard in analyzing Wiest's claims under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and it erred in requiring that disclosures to supervisors specifically relate to violation of a statute, the appeals court found. Wiest sued in July 2010, claiming he was fired after he challenged payments for extravagant parties. TE Connectivity said it was reviewing the decision. - Bloomberg News

Campus project builder at Howard

Campus Apartments L.L.C., of Philadelphia, said it would build a $107-million student residential, social and classroom facility for Howard University in Washington. The neighborhood-style project, slated for completion by August 2014, is designed to accommodate 1,360 students, the company said. Campus Apartments has $2 billion worth of assets under management in 24 states. - Reid Kanaley

Interim CEO approved for Revel

The former president of the Mohegan Sun casino resort was approved to serve as the new interim CEO of Atlantic City's Revel casino. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission gave Jeffrey Hartmann the green light to run the day-to-day affairs of Atlantic City's newest casino. Revel expects to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition on Friday. Hartmann replaces Kevin DeSanctis, who led the $2.4-billion Revel through its development. - AP

Hostess brand sales approved

A judge approved the sale of Twinkies and other brands in the bankruptcy of Hostess Brands Inc. Judge Robert Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York OK'd the sale of Wonder bread to Flowers Foods Inc., which makes other breads along with Philadelphia's Tastykakes. Flowers would also get Nature's Pride, Butternut, Home Pride, and Merita as part of the $360 million deal. The sale of the Beefsteak brand to Grupo Bimbo, whose U.S. headquarters is in Horsham, was also approved. Grupo Bimbo makes Entenmann's cakes and is paying $31.9 million for the Beefsteak brand. Twinkies, Ding Dongs and some other brands were sold to investment firms Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co. for $410 million. Sales of other brands and facilities are pending, but Hostess has said none include its idled plant in Northeast Philadelphia. - AP

 

Elsewhere

Airline execs testify at Senate

Senators questioned the top executives of American Airlines and US Airways Group Inc. about their proposed merger, but aside from concerns about the potential impact on jobs, competition, and airfares, no significant obstacle has yet risen to the $11 billion deal. The proposed corporate union requires the blessing of the Justice and Transportation departments, as well as the federal bankruptcy court that American has been operating under for the past year. In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, Doug Parker, chairman and CEO of US Airways, and Thomas Horton, president and CEO of American, said that instead of diminishing competition, the new company would serve as a "counterweight" to rivals Delta and United. Some consumer advocates said that competition is precisely what would suffer. - McClatchy Newspapers

Gov't backs off cigarette warnings

The government is abandoning a legal battle to require that cigarette packs carry a set of large and often macabre warning labels depicting the dangers of smoking and encouraging smokers to quit. The Food and Drug Administration will go back to the drawing board and create labels to replace those that included images of diseased lungs and the sewn-up corpse of a smoker, according to a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder obtained by the Associated Press. The government had until Monday to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appeals court decision upholding a ruling that the requirement violated First Amendment free speech protections. - AP

Citigroup to pay $730M settlement

Citigroup Inc. agreed to pay $730 million to settle claims it misled debt investors about its condition during the financial crisis. The deal would resolve a lawsuit by investors who bought Citigroup bonds and preferred stock from May 2006 through November 2008, the New York-based lender said. The accord requires court approval and would be covered by existing litigation reserves, the bank said. Citigroup is among the Wall Street firms still dealing with the fallout from the crisis, when the bank almost collapsed amid losses tied to subprime mortgages and took a $45 billion bailout. The company has repaid the rescue. - Bloomberg News

Building starts rise for February

U.S. builders started more homes in February and permits for future construction rose at the fastest pace in 4 1/2 years. The increases point to a housing recovery that is gaining strength. The Commerce Department said builders broke ground on houses and apartments last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000. That's up from 910,000 in January. And it's the second-fastest pace since June 2008, behind December's rate of 982,000. Both single-family and apartment construction rose. - AP

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