Business news in brief

A postman at a mailbox in London, where the British government will lay out plans to privatize the Royal Mail in a $4.5 billion share offering that will see tens of thousands of workers get a stake in the company. The union fears job losses and lower wages. The Royal Mail wants to compete with private delivery services.
A postman at a mailbox in London, where the British government will lay out plans to privatize the Royal Mail in a $4.5 billion share offering that will see tens of thousands of workers get a stake in the company. The union fears job losses and lower wages. The Royal Mail wants to compete with private delivery services. (MATT DUNHAM / AP)
Posted: July 11, 2013

In the Region

Warning on gasoline prices

Brace yourself for gasoline-pump sticker shock, Tom Kloza, the chief analyst for GasBuddy.com, said. Kloza said wholesale gasoline markets "have turned violently higher" since the end of June and retail prices will follow soon. Regional spot markets for gasoline are up by 30 cents a gallon in New York and as much as 51 cents a gallon in the Chicago area since June 28. Kloza, whose Oil Price Information Service bought the more consumer-oriented GasBuddy.com in March, said the price surge is caused by a combination of panic in the futures and options market, a surge in summer demand, and worries about political instability spreading out of Egypt into North Africa. - Andrew Maykuth

Hill wins Phoenix airport contract

Engineering and project-managment firm Hill International Inc., Marlton, said its joint venture with Abadjis Systems Ltd. was awarded a contract worth up to $36 million for services in connection with a $500 million modernization at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Hill and ASL, of Bonita, Calif., are equal partners in the joint venture. - Reid Kanaley

Tribune to split businesses

Tribune Co., owner of WPHL-TV in Philadelphia and publisher of the Allentown Morning Call and other newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, said it wants to split its broadcasting and publishing businesses into two companies. Tribune said the move will let one company take advantage of growth in broadcasting while the other focuses on newspapers, where revenue has been falling. The newspapers would be spun off into an independent company called Tribune Publishing Co. The remaining company would include Tribune's local television stations and other media properties. Tribune has a deal to buy Local TV Holdings L.L.C.'s 19 TV stations, including WNEP-TV in Scranton. - AP

$75 million for Pa. high-tech firms

The Pennsylvania budget sent to Gov. Corbett includes a new program, InnovatePA, designed to steer at least $75 million in state funds to high-tech firms, according to its cosponsors, Reps. Warren Kampf (R., Chester) and Joe Hackett (R., Delaware). Half the funds, which will be generated by auctioning $100 million in deferred tax credits to insurance firms, will be invested via Ben Franklin Technology Partners. - Jeff Gelles

Small businesses sought for course

Small-business owners have until July 22 to sign up for the free Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program being offered in September at Community College of Philadelphia. To be eligible for the 11-week program, a business must be at least two years old, employ a minimum of four people, and have an annual revenue stream of $150,000 to $4,000,000. For more information or to apply, go to www.ccp.edu/10ksb or call 267-299-5900. Goldman Sachs has put up $200 million to fund the program, developed by Babson College and being offered in at least nine cities. - Diane Mastrull

Elsewhere

PC shipments off 11% in quarter

Worldwide shipments of personal computers fell 11 percent in the April-June period, according to data from research firms Gartner Inc. and International Data Corp., as people continued to move to tablets and other mobile devices. Gartner said the PC industry is experiencing the longest decline in its history, as shipments dropped for the fifth consecutive quarter. Computer makers shipped 76 million PCs in the April-June period, down from 85 million in the same three months of 2012, according to Gartner. IDC, which uses slightly different methodology, essentially came to the same conclusion, though it noted that the decline was slightly smaller than expected. - AP

Yum profit off, but China improving

KFC parent company Yum Brands Inc. said its profit fell in the latest quarter but sales trends were improving in its critical China division, which has been reeling from a bird flu scare. The company, which also owns Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, said sales in China were down 10 percent at restaurants open at least a year for June. That's better than the 19 percent drop in May. In addition to the bird flu scare, Yum is still trying to shake off the lingering effects of a controversy over its chicken supply. That trouble sprang up after a Chinese TV report revealed in December that some suppliers were giving chickens unapproved levels of antibiotics. The fallout was so damaging that Yum dramatically revised down its forecast, saying it expects its earnings per share for the year to decline. That would snap a years-long streak of double-digit growth. - AP

Icahn seeks new look at Dell deal

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn will ask a judge to assess the fairness of a proposed $24.4 billion acquisition of struggling personal-computer maker Dell Inc. in his latest attempt to wrangle a higher price. The legal move outlined Wednesday may end up being one of the last moves in Icahn's crusade to prove that CEO Michael Dell and other investors led by Silver Lake Partners are trying to snap up the world's third-largest PC maker at a steep discount to its long-term value. Dell's shareholders will get their chance to accept or rebuff the offer at a meeting Thursday. - AP

Suit alleges Target discrimination

Three former Hispanic employees are suing Target Corp. over alleged discrimination and retaliation, citing a training document reminding managers that not all Hispanics eat tacos and burritos, dance to salsa, or wear sombreros. The California lawsuit alleges that white managers at a warehouse regularly used racial slurs when addressing Hispanic workers. It cites a document featuring common stereotypes and tips on how to manage Hispanic workers. A Target spokeswoman would not comment on the lawsuit but said the Minneapolis-based company was sorry for the content of the document. - AP

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