Business news in brief

The Nissan NV200 Mobility Taxi was presented Thursday at the New York International Auto Show. The hybrid, the first of several Nissan hybrids, is scheduled to go on sale at dealers in the United States in late summer. It features a supercharged 2.5-liter gasoline engine and a 15-kilowatt electric motor.
The Nissan NV200 Mobility Taxi was presented Thursday at the New York International Auto Show. The hybrid, the first of several Nissan hybrids, is scheduled to go on sale at dealers in the United States in late summer. It features a supercharged 2.5-liter gasoline engine and a 15-kilowatt electric motor. (MARY ALTAFFER / Associated Press)
Posted: March 29, 2013

In the Region

Convention Center issues RFP

The Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority on Thursday issued a request for proposals from qualified companies interested in managing and operating certain functions of the center. A mandatory proposers' conference and site tour is scheduled for April 4 at 2:30 p.m. at the center. Deadline for receipt of the proposals is May 3. Access the RFP application at http://www.paconvention.com/vendors. - Suzette Parmley

Coatesville plant upgrade finished

Pennsylvania American Water on Thursday marked the completion of a $24 million upgrade to the company's Rock Run Water Treatment Plant near Coatesville, intended to improve capacity, reliability, and energy efficiency. The upgrade expands the treatment capacity of the West Caln Township plant from five million gallons per day to seven million. The improvements also replaced aging equipment to ensure compliance with drinking-water regulations. The plant supplies about 12,000 customers in western Chester County. The project, which took more than two years to complete, received a $9.9 million low-interest loan from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST). - Andrew Maykuth

Aqua America sells more Fla. assets

Aqua America Inc., the Bryn Mawr water utility, announced Thursday that it had completed the sale of about 65 percent of its Florida assets in its ongoing effort to consolidate operations to eight states where it has a critical mass. Aqua sold 57 water systems and 23 wastewater systems in 12 counties to the Florida Governmental Utility Authority for $50.2 million. Separately, Aqua sold nine water systems and four wastewater systems to U.S. Water for $1.6 million, and one water system and one wastewater system that serve the Arredondo Farms community in Alachua County to YES Communities Companies L.L.C. for $1.1 million. Aqua expects to sell its remaining Florida operations in Sarasota and DeSoto Counties in the second or third quarter of 2013. - Andrew Maykuth

Penn sues over Wharton trademark

The University of Pennsylvania is suing a California company, claiming violation of a trademark associated with the Wharton School of Business. Wharton Business Foundation, which has locations in Blue Bell, Montgomery County, and Beverly Hills, is using Penn's 132-year-old Wharton trademark without authorization, lawyers for the university said in a federal court complaint made public Thursday in Philadelphia, and "creates a likelihood of confusion in the marketplace." Wharton Business Foundation operates a website with the Wharton name and offers services including business education and business consultation, according to the complaint. The university is seeking a jury trial and a court order barring the misuse of its trademark. Officials at Wharton Business Foundation did not immediately return a call seeking comment. - Bloomberg News

Pa. horse-track wagers up in 2012

Bettors wagered more than $776.9 million at Pennsylvania's six horse-racing tracks last year, a 12 percent increase over 2011 - the most wagered since the state's first casino opened in 2006, according to the Gaming Control Board. The state's racehorse fund, however, fell slightly for the first time. Kevin Kile, the board's director of racetrack gaming, said, "The vast majority of the wagers are being placed by patrons outside of Pennsylvania. It represents the success of Pennsylvania racing. Other states aren't seeing this." Of the total wagered last year, $679.7 million came from bets placed out of state, an increase of 14.4 percent over 2011. The report also showed that the state's Racehorse Development Fund - which is funded by slot-machine revenue and supports the horse-racing industry - declined for the first time, going down 1 percent. - AP

Gardner Denver investor suit

Wayne-based Gardner Denver Inc. has been sued by an investor claiming KKR & Co.'s planned $3.7 billion buyout undervalues the industrial-equipment maker. Gardner Denver directors breached their fiduciary duties by accepting an insufficient offer that furthers the interests of a majority stakeholder, investor Daniel White said in a complaint filed in Delaware Chancery Court. White blamed the proposed deal on pressure from ValueAct Holdings L.P., the company's third-largest investor. ValueAct isn't named as a defendant in the case. KKR, the New York-based private-equity firm run by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, announced March 8 that it would pay $76 a share for Gardner Denver after raising its offer from $75 a share. The deal, expected to close in the third quarter, is valued at $3.9 billion including the assumption of Gardner Denver's debt. A Gardner Denver spokesman did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment on the complaint. - Bloomberg News

Group drops CEDC takeover offer

A consortium that was competing with Russian billionaire Roustam Tariko for control of Polish vodka producer Central European Distribution Corp. of Mount Laurel has withdrawn its takeover offer, its members said. Fellow billionaire Mikhail Fridman's A1, CEDC shareholder and bondholder Mark Kaufman, and Stolichnaya vodka seller SPI Group announced their withdrawals in separate e-mail statements. Kaufman, who holds 5 percent of CEDC's stock, "decided to withdraw given the company's repeated requests" to improve the financial terms of the consortium's offer, according to a statement. The group's bid was competing with a restructuring takeover from Tariko's Roust Trading, which CEDC backed. The company was unable to repay $258 million of notes due March 15. - Bloomberg News

Susquehanna panel chief retires

Paul Swartz, 64, executive director of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission for 21 years, is retiring in November. The interstate watershed agency, which is based in Harrisburg and has a staff of 60, is charged with protecting and managing water resources of the Susquehanna River Basin. Its work gained prominence with the expansion of Marcellus Shale drilling in northern Pennsylvania, which required SRBC approval of water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing. The job opening is listed at http://www.srbc.net/about/employ.htm

- Andrew Maykuth

Pinnacle Foods gains in IPO

Shares of Pinnacle Foods, maker of Birds Eye frozen vegetables, Duncan Hines cake mixes, and Vlasic pickles, jumped 11 percent in its first day of public trading. The Parsippany, N.J., company's stock, priced at $20 per share, closed at $22.21 Thursday, and Pinnacle raised $580 million in an initial public offering of 29 million shares. Pinnacle, which says its products can be found in 85 percent of all U.S. households, reported revenue of $2.48 billion in 2012 and net income of about $52.6 million. Private-equity firm Blackstone Group bought Pinnacle Foods in 2007 and owns about 70 percent after the IPO. - AP

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