Business news briefs: Giant Eagle acquires Cleveland pharmacy company

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O'Hara-based Giant Eagle Inc. has acquired Cleveland-based Rx21 Specialty Pharmacy, which specializes in medications used for complex treatment regimens for cancer, hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn's disease and multiple sclerosis, among others. With the acquisition, Giant Eagle officials say pharmacy customers receiving these treatments now have 24-hour access to a pharmacist for consultations. Terms of the deal were not released.

Sysco buys rival US Foods for $3.5B in cash and stocks

One of the largest food supply companies is buying one of its key rivals. Sysco is buying privately held US Foods for about $3.5 billion in cash and stock, which should boost its annual sales by about 46 percent to around $65 billion. Houston's Sysco also will assume about $4.7 billion in debt. Sysco trucks food and cooking supplies to about 425,000 customers through the U.S., Bahamas, Canada, Ireland and Northern Ireland. It has a facility in Harmony and employs about 270 in the Pittsburgh area. US Foods' customers include independent and chain restaurants, health care and hospitality companies, and government and educational institutions. It has a facility in Greensburg.

Mining company settles over safety record inflation allegations

Massachusetts has reached a $265 million settlement with a mining company over allegations that it misrepresented its safety record in an effort to artificially inflate its stock price after a deadly 2010 explosion at a West Virginia mine that killed 29 people. The Pension Reserves Investment Management Board was the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against Alpha Appalachia Holdings Inc., formerly known as Massey Energy Co. A spokesman for Bristol, Va.-based Alpha, said the settlement is related to allegations from before Alpha bought Massey. Alpha decided the prudent thing to do was to resolve it quickly.

Pittsburgh area gas price increases 2.1 cents to $3.39

While still below last year's average for this time of year, the price of gas in Pittsburgh has increased 2.1 cents over the past week. According to GasBuddy.com, the average gasoline price per gallon in the region was $3.39 on Sunday. Nationwide, the average was $3.24. With large swaths of the country seeing snowy weather, driving will likely decrease, which may further drive down gas prices, GasBuddy.com analysts said.

United Way to help with tax return preparation

The United Way of Allegheny County and the Money in Your Pocket Coalition need volunteers to prepare 2014 tax returns for low-income individuals. The volunteers, who do not need prior tax experience, will be trained and will staff 14 sites in the region beginning in January. Deadline to register is Dec. 27 at pghfreetaxes.org.

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO agrees to new contract

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. CEO Mike Jeffries got a new contract with the teen-apparel retailer amid weakening earnings and a shareholder's call for him to be replaced. The new agreement pays a base salary of $1.5 million a year with long-term incentive awards at a target value of $6 million and annual bonuses of as much as $4.5 million. Mr. Jeffries, 69, has been struggling to reconnect with the chain's customers, leading to three straight quarters of sales declines. The company also said it will recruit executives to the new position of brand president for each of its Abercrombie & Fitch, Abercrombie kids and Hollister lines as part of its succession planning.

McDonald's sales drop 0.8 percent in November

McDonald's Corp.'s U.S. sales funk worsened in November as rivals lured away diners amid the choppy economic recovery. Sales at U.S. stores open at least 13 months dropped 0.8 percent in November, Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's said. Global same-store sales rose 0.5 percent. The world's largest restaurant chain has been revamping its menu and trying to improve service to attract Americans amid fierce competition.

Chobani planning to take a super leap in advertising

Chobani says it will air its first Super Bowl ad this February, a move intended to make the Greek yogurt company more of a household name. The debut on advertising's biggest stage comes as Greek yogurt continues to surge in popularity. Known for its thick texture and tart taste, Greek yogurt now accounts for more than a third of the U.S. yogurt market, up from just 1 percent in 2007, according to a report by Bernstein Research. And the figure is expected to top more than 50 percent in coming years. Chobani is the market leader, but says only about a third of Americans are familiar with its brand.


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