Business news in brief

Passengers wait at a station in Marseille, France, as rail workers struck to protest a reorganization of the national rail companies. Up to 70 percent of train journeys in France were canceled Thursday. The action came after two days of air traffic controller strikes, also linked to European Union privatization policies.
Passengers wait at a station in Marseille, France, as rail workers struck to protest a reorganization of the national rail companies. Up to 70 percent of train journeys in France were canceled Thursday. The action came after two days of air traffic controller strikes, also linked to European Union privatization policies. (CLAUDE PARIS / AP)
Posted: June 14, 2013

In the Region

Franklin Institute's outlook lifted

The Franklin Institute's credit-rating outlook has improved to "stable" from a previous "negative" outlook, Moody's Investor Service analyst Heidi Wilde said Thursday in a report to clients. The bond rating will remain at Baa1, which is above the minimum investment grade needed to attract institutional bond buyers. The science museum remains "challenged" by its "aggressive debt profile," with variable-rate debt hedged by interest-rate swaps, Moody's added. But current management has boosted attendance, improved cash flow, and raised expectations that $11 million in Pennsylvania state funding, plus more from private-sector donors, and city-backed short-term borrowing will help finance its planned expansion, the report said. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Airport-subcontractor amendment

City Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. introduced an amendment to the Home Rule Charter on Thursday that would extend 21st-century-wage requirements to city subcontractors, including companies doing business at Philadelphia International Airport. The provisions now apply to businesses with direct city contracts. Fifteen Council members agreed to cosponsor the ordinance, which if approved in the fall would be a ballot question left to Philadelphia voters. About 2,000 employees at the airport work for subcontractors. They earn less than $16,000 a year, the National Employment Law Project said. The Nutter administration has said extending the provisions could severely limit competition, reduce jobs, and increase the costs of some services. The city's living-wage standard is $10.88 an hour, paid sick days, and health benefits. - Linda Loyd

PUC to review water-rate request

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday voted to review a 10.1 percent rate-increase request from Pennsylvania American Water Co., which serves 2.2 million residents in 35 counties. The annual cost for a typical customer in Pennsylvania American's main division would increase from $630.12 to $703.56, or 11.7 percent. Rates for some customers in the utility's smaller divisions would increase by greater amounts because the company is seeking to set a uniform rate across the state. The PUC will take up to seven months to review and rule on the request. - Andrew Maykuth

Revlon reaches accord with SEC

Revlon, the New York cosmetics maker controlled by Philadelphia native Ronald Perelman, has agreed to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission $850,000 to settle charges that the company "misled shareholders" and its own independent directors. The SEC said Revlon suppressed information that its own financial expert had found the company was underpaying shareholders at the price it set for its shares so it could pay more than $100 million that Revlon owed Perelman's holding company, MacAndrews

& Forbes, in 2009. Revlon eventually raised its offer for the shares and agreed to pay investors more than $20 million extra. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Foundation grant for health centers

The Kresge Foundation, of Troy, Mich., has granted $601,000 for a three-year initiative to combine legal and medical services at nurse-led health centers in Philadelphia, the National Nursing Centers Consortium, an affiliate of Public Health Management Corp., said Thursday. The program will integrate attorneys into health-care teams to help low-income individuals with health-related legal needs, such as unsafe living quarters. Other partners in the initiative are Philadelphia's Legal Clinic for the Disabled, the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnerships, and Abbottsford Falls Clinic at the Family Practice and Counseling Network.

- Harold Brubaker

W. Chester firm recruiting agents

InterMedia Marketing, West Chester, is recruiting and training 300 phone-based health-insurance agents to service and sell individual policies for Blue Cross affiliates in New York, Maryland, and other states under the new Affordable Care Act starting in October, chief operating officer Patricia Elkins said. Founded in 1983, InterMedia, owned by chief executive Paul Santry, sales director Andy Thompson, and investor Arthur Kania, also manages phone sales for Comcast, Glaxo, and other companies and for Medicare Part D policies. - Joseph N. DiStefano

NVG workshops for fleet managers

The Department of Environmental Protection will hold four free workshops next week in the Philadelphia area for fleet managers considering a switch to natural-gas vehicles. The workshops will be Tuesday at Arcadia University's King of Prussia campus; Wednesday at West Chester University; Thursday at the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce in Springfield; and next Friday at Bucks County Community College's campus in Bristol. (More information: http://bit.ly/12qzP9a.) The sessions are scheduled ahead of the DEP's July 26 deadline to apply for grants to subsidize the purchase of medium and lightweight NGVs. DEP is giving out $10 million to fleet managers later this year. - Andrew Maykuth

Elsewhere

Foreclosures jump nationwide

Completed foreclosures jumped 11 percent nationally from April's levels, with increases in 33 states, foreclosure-listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday. The increase reflects a rise in the number of homes entering the foreclosure process last year. Many wound their way through the often-lengthy process and ended up becoming bank-owned properties. Home repossessions, however, were down 29 percent from May last year, reflecting the long-term downward trend. Foreclosure starts in May rose 4 percent from April, but fell 33 percent from May 2012 levels, the firm said. - AP

Mortgage rates rise again

Fixed U.S. mortgage rates rose for the sixth straight week. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.98 percent. That's up from 3.91 percent last week and the highest since April 2012. The average rate was last at 4 percent or higher in March 2012. The rate on the 15-year loan advanced to 3.10 percent from 3.03 percent. That's also the highest since April 2012. Mortgage rates are rising because they tend to follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. The yield on climbed as high as 2.29 percent this week from a low of 1.63 percent in May. - AP

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