Business news in brief

A roadside store near Johannesburg, South Africa, advertises an access point for the M-Pesa mobile phone money transfer service operated by Standard Bank Group Ltd. In the six years since Kenya's M-Pesa brought banking by phone to Africa, the service has grown from a novelty to a bona fide payment network.
A roadside store near Johannesburg, South Africa, advertises an access point for the M-Pesa mobile phone money transfer service operated by Standard Bank Group Ltd. In the six years since Kenya's M-Pesa brought banking by phone to Africa, the service has grown from a novelty to a bona fide payment network. (NADINE HUTTON / Bloomberg News)
Posted: May 22, 2013

In the Region

Revel formally out of bankruptcy

Atlantic City's $2.4 billion Revel casino formally completed its financial restructuring and emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy Tuesday. The reorganization plan, approved by a U.S. bankruptcy judge and the New Jersey Casino Control Commission last week, eliminates about $1.2 billion of the casino's $1.5 billion debt through a debt-for-equity swap with its creditors. Revel has struggled since opening April 2, 2012, on the Boardwalk. Its monthly casino revenue was near the bottom among the resort's dozen casinos. Revel is relaunching this summer with new amenities and allowing smoking on its gaming floor for the first time. - Suzette Parmley

Wyss gives $125M to Harvard

Hansjörg Wyss, who became a billionaire by building Synthes Inc. into a world leader in sales of medical devices to fix broken bones, made a second gift of $125 million to the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Wyss launched the institute in 2009 with $125 million, the largest donation in Harvard history at the time. Wyss is a Swiss citizen and Synthes was officially headquartered there, but it operated from Chester County until it was bought by Johnson & Johnson in 2012 for $19.7 billion. Bloomberg estimates Wyss' wealth at $12.4 billion, while Forbes has him at 123d on its list of billionaires with $8.7 billion. Wyss graduated from Harvard Business School in 1965. At the time of the Synthes closing, Wyss sold his Chesterbrook home. He now lives in Wyoming. - David Sell

Merck accelerates repurchase

Merck & Co. said it would repurchase $5 billion worth of its common stock under an accelerated share repurchase agreement with Goldman Sachs & Co. Merck, with a large operation in Montgomery County, said the buyback program is part of a previously announced $15 billion share repurchase program. In the first four months of 2013, Merck repurchased about 17.8 million shares for a total of $772 million. Shares rose $2.12, or 4.7 percent, to close at $37.33, and were up in after-hours trading. - AP

Hershey selling candy bar in China

The Hershey Co. said it is launching a new "milk candy" bar in three Chinese cities next month, followed by a wider distribution next year. The central Pennsylvania-based company says it will mark the first brand new-brand it has launched outside the United States in its nearly 120-year history. The new candy brand will be called "Lancaster" and be launched in the cities of Wuhan, Hangzhou, and Chengdu in June. Company officials say it was created in the company's innovation labs and did very well in consumer testing. Hershey says China is a priority market and will play a big role in the company's goal of reaching $10 billion in worldwide net sales by 2017. - AP

Flights resume to Shannon, Ireland

US Airways Group will begin nonstop daily summer flights Wednesday between Philadelphia and Shannon, Ireland. The flights will operate until Sept. 6, and are in addition to a year-around daily nonstop flight between Philadelphia and Dublin, Ireland. The 176-seat Boeing 757-200 aircraft departs here at 9:05 p.m. and arrives in Shannon at 8:40 a.m. the next day. The return flight leaves Shannon at 11:35 a.m., arriving in Philadelphia at 2:05 p.m. US Airways said it was resuming summer service to Shannon after a four-year hiatus. - Linda Loyd

Elsewhere

No summer break for auto factories

Detroit auto factories are forgoing their traditional two-week summer break and speeding up production to meet buyers' growing demand for new cars and trucks. Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday that 21 of its North American factories will shut for only one week this summer. That includes the Chicago plant that makes the Ford Explorer SUV and the Mexican plant that makes the Fusion sedan. General Motors Co. won't idle its factories at all, while Chrysler plans a two-week break at just four of its 10 North American assembly plants. Both GM and Chrysler are rolling out critical new models. The three Detroit carmakers traditionally shut factories for two weeks around July Fourth to do maintenance and change the machinery for new models. - AP

Best Buy bests the analysts

Best Buy Co. reported a loss for its fiscal first quarter as it sold its stake in Best Buy Europe and works on a turnaround plan that includes cutting costs and closing some stores. Its adjusted earnings beat Wall Street expectations, as cost cuts helped offset tough pricing competition during the quarter. But shares fell 4.4 percent, to $25.64. The company has been working on a turnaround plan as it faces increased competition from online retailers and discount stores. - AP

TiVo earnings surprise Wall Street

TiVo Inc., the developer of digital-video recorders, posted a narrower first-quarter loss after adding the most pay-TV subscribers in seven years. The net loss of $10.3 million, or nine cents a share, compared with a loss of $20.8 million, or 17 cents, a year earlier, California-based TiVo said. Analysts had forecast a loss of 14 cents. Sales rose 22 percent to $82.6 million in the quarter ended April 30, beating estimates of $77.2 million. Shares rose 2 percent to $12.92. - Bloomberg News

Dish to see Sprint's books

Sprint Nextel Corp. will give private financial data to Dish Network Corp., letting the satellite carrier build a case for its $25.5 billion takeover offer. Sprint, which has agreed to a $20.1 billion proposal from SoftBank Corp., got a waiver from the Japanese company Monday to provide nonpublic information to Dish, according to a statement. Sprint said its board has not made a decision on Dish's bid and continues to back SoftBank's proposal, though it has the right to terminate the agreement for a superior offer. - Bloomberg News

LNG exports put on hold

Newly sworn-in Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said he will put on hold about 20 applications to export liquefied natural gas until he reviews studies by the Energy Department and others on what impact the exports would have on domestic natural gas supplies and prices. Moniz said he promised during his confirmation hearing that he would "review what's out there" before acting on proposals to export natural gas. A study commissioned by the Energy Department concluded last year that exporting natural gas would benefit the U.S. economy. - AP

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