Business news briefs: Highmark eying affiliation

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Highmark eying affiliation

Highmark Inc. and Wilkes Barre-based Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania announced on Tuesday the signing of a letter of intent to "pursue a stronger affiliation." Highmark has existing affiliation agreements in place with Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers in Delaware and West Virginia, through which the Pittsburgh insurer essentially acquired controlling stakes; a similar arrangement with Northeastern and its 550,000 subscribers would require state Insurance Department approval.

County leads in alcohol sales

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board reported Tuesday that buyers in Allegheny County had purchased more than $260 million in wine and spirits, tops in the state once again last fiscal year, followed by Philadelphia County. The numbers were included in the PLCB's 2012-13 Retail Year in Review, available at PLCB's website.

More homes under agreement

The number of homes placed under agreement in southwestern Pennsylvania increased more than 15 percent in October, according to West Penn Multi-List. Last month, 3,459 homes were placed under agreement compared to 3,006 homes in October 2012. The average home sale price, however, declined 3 percent during that time frame from $162,062 to $157,216.

Steakhouse clears food alert

Saga Hibachi Steakhouse in Robinson was hit with a Consumer Alert Nov. 8 by the Allegheny County Health Department for numerous critical food safety violations, including holding foods at unsafe temperatures. The alert was removed following a reinspection Tuesday. Inspection reports for restaurants in the county are available at

Chemical company's profits fall

German-based specialty chemicals, plastics and rubbers producer Lanxess AG said third-quarter net income plummeted by 88 percent to 11 million euros ($14.8 million) and global sales fell by 5 percent to 2.1 billion euros ($2.8 billion). The company, which has its North American headquarters in Findlay, said the declines resulted from falling prices and charges related to a cost-efficiency program that includes about 1,000 job cuts worldwide. Sales in North America dropped by 13 percent to 342 million euros.

Also in business ...

The ExOne Company named PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Brian W. Smith CFO and treasurer, effective Jan. 1. Mr. Smith, 55, replaces John Irvin, who becomes special adviser to the North Huntingdon 3-D printing company and remains on its board of directors.

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