Business news in brief

Shipyard workers shout slogans as they walk past the Portuguese parliament in Lisbon Tuesday. Workers of northern Portugal's Viana do Castelo shipyard staged a protest march against the government's plans to privatize the company.
Shipyard workers shout slogans as they walk past the Portuguese parliament in Lisbon Tuesday. Workers of northern Portugal's Viana do Castelo shipyard staged a protest march against the government's plans to privatize the company. (Associated Press)
Posted: March 27, 2013

In the Region

Leaner Supervalu to shed workers

Supervalu Inc., which last week sold Acme Markets and four other national supermarket chains to a Cerberus Capital Management-led investor group, said Tuesday that it plans to eliminate 1,100 jobs as it trims costs amid falling sales. The company still operates about two dozen Save-a-Lot stores in the Philadelphia region and at the Jersey Shore. The cuts, which will come from its corporate and store-support offices, include current positions and open jobs that won't be filled, Minnesota-based Supervalu said, and represent about 3.1 percent of its 35,000-employee workforce. - Bloomberg News

Duane Morris opens office in Oman

Duane Morris L.L.P. announced Tuesday that it has opened its first office in the Middle East through a joint venture with a law firm in Muscat, Oman. Duane Morris partner Jeffrey Rodwell, formerly based in the London office, will serve as managing director. In 2010, the law firm formed a joint venture in Singapore, followed in 2011 by a strategic alliance with a Mexico City firm. Philadelphia-based Duane Morris also has offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, in addition to its 20 U.S. locations. - Inquirer staff

DuPont, Monsanto drop seed battles

DuPont Co. and Monsanto Co., the world's largest seed companies, have agreed to drop their respective antitrust and soybean patent lawsuits and enter into licensing agreements for making genetically modified crops. Monsanto will ask the St. Louis federal court to dismiss its claim that DuPont infringed patents for Roundup Ready soybeans, setting aside a $1 billion jury award, the companies said in a joint statement. DuPont will ask the court to dismiss its claim that Monsanto uses monopoly power to stifle innovation. The agreement follows recent legal victories by St. Louis-based Monsanto over its smaller rival in the $34 billion seed market. A U.S. jury in August ordered Wilmington-based DuPont to pay Monsanto for infringing seed patents, and the U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys general dropped probes late last year into industry antitrust concerns raised by DuPont. - Bloomberg News

U.S. Steel to retain Slovakia plant

Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel has agreed to keep making steel in Slovakia for at least five years under the terms of an agreement disclosed Tuesday. The plant in Kosice, eastern Slovakia, is U.S. Steel's last overseas operation and employs about 12,500 people. The company will receive about $19 million annually for 15 years in renewable-energy subsidies from the government, in addition to government assistance with landfill costs, among other things. U.S. Steel promises not to make mass layoffs at the plant through at least next year, barring a severe economic downturn or an adverse change in market conditions. - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Work to begin on natural-gas plant

A new natural gas-to-liquid processing plant is expected to be up and running on a site near Hollidaysburg, Pa., about 90 miles east of Pittsburgh, by 2015, a $200 million investment in a region that doesn't have Marcellus Shale gas of its own but still wants a piece of the industry. Marcellus GTL L.L.C. of Gilberton, Schuylkill County, announced that it would begin construction on the plant in Duncansville, Blair County, later this year. The facility, called a clean-energy center, will process natural gas to produce about 84,000 gallons of gasoline and propane per day. - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Elsewhere

A Goldman deal for Buffett

Warren Buffett is grabbing a big chunk of stock in Goldman Sachs Group Inc., without having to buy it. The deal would make Buffett's investment firm, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., one of Goldman's biggest shareholders. Based on Goldman's current stock price, Buffett would wind up owning about 9 million shares, or 2 percent, of the giant investment bank when the deal closes in October. He is being rewarded for a 2008 investment that amounted to an endorsement of Goldman at the height of the financial crisis, after rival Lehman Bros. collapsed. Buffett received warrants entitling Berkshire to buy nearly 43.5 million common shares of Goldman Sachs for $115 a share at any time for five years. - Los Angeles Times

FHFA wants insurance controls

The Federal Housing Finance Agency wants to ban fees and commissions on policies that mortgage borrowers are compelled to buy when their own coverage lapses. FHFA said it was seeking to stop insurers from paying mortgage companies that send them such business. So-called force-placed insurance is designed to protect lenders and mortgage investors. A lender can force the customer to take out a new policy from an insurer typically selected by the bank, which may get paid for referring the business, and the rates may be higher than those available in the open market. California, Florida, and New York regulators already have pressed insurers to cut premiums on force-placed policies. - Bloomberg News

Judge sides with Facebook in suit

A New York man's multibillion-dollar lawsuit claiming half-ownership of Facebook Inc. should be dismissed, a federal judge recommended Tuesday. Siding with the Internet company and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio in Buffalo said the contract on which Paul Ceglia based his case was faked. Ceglia sued in 2010, claiming he and Zuckerberg, then a Harvard University student, signed a software-development contract in 2003 that included a provision entitling Ceglia to half-ownership of Facebook in exchange for $1,000 in startup money for the budding company. The judge found that while the two did sign a contract, references to Facebook had been added later. - AP

Dismissal of Boeing suit upheld

Boeing Co. won a U.S. appeals court ruling affirming the dismissal of an investor lawsuit accusing company officials of making misleading public statements about the readiness of its 787 "Dreamliner" aircraft, grounded since January because of lithium-ion battery issues. The Chicago-based appeals panel also asked a trial judge to consider punishing lawyers for the plaintiff, the Livonia, Mich., public employees retirement system, for failing to adequately investigate statements by a confidential source they relied on. - Bloomberg News

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