Business briefs: Pirates sign multiyear deal with marketing, media group

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The Pirates have hired Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment, a New York sports marketing and media sales group, to manage advertising behind home plate and near first base. As part of a multiyear deal, Van Wagner will install a rotating ad display behind PNC Park's home plate and upgrade signage along the first-base wall. The Pirates, whose recent success has brought more exposure, contracted Van Wagner because the company has better access to national brands.

Gas price increases here outpacing national average

The average price for a gallon of gas in Pittsburgh increased 5.5 cents in the past week to $3.62 Sunday, according to a survey of 731 local gas stations by GasBuddy.com, a price tracking website, while the national average increased 5 cents to $3.40 per gallon. Gas prices in Pittsburgh have jumped 11.7 cents in the past month due to rising crude oil prices and routine refinery maintenance.

New York firm offers to buy most of Barnes & Noble

Investment firm G Asset has offered to buy 51 percent of the Barnes & Noble bookstore chain for about $672 million. The New York firm says its offer is for $22 per share, 31 percent above the stock's closing price Thursday. G Asset says Barnes & Noble is "substantially undervalued." The retailer's sales fell 6.6 percent at its bookstores and online during the critical holiday shopping season. If the bid were successful, G Asset would spin off the Nook e-book business into its own venture.

McDonald's customers may get more time for breakfast

McDonald's is in the early stages of looking at whether it can make breakfast available later in the day. Fans of the Egg McMuffin and Sausage Biscuit have long wanted the option to get breakfast after 10:30 a.m. But offering both the breakfast and lunch menu was considered logistically impossible, given the tight kitchen spaces of the restaurants. Still, it's an option the chain is eyeing more seriously. "We know, as an example, that breakfast on the weekend cut off at 10:30 doesn't go very well," Jeff Stratton, head of McDonald's USA, said.

Honda moves to change perceptions of its culture

Honda appointed a woman to its board for the first time and gave a major promotion to a foreigner in signs the automaker wants to change perceptions of a hidebound corporate culture. Technology expert Hideko Kunii, 66, will join the board, and Issao Mizoguchi, a Brazilian of Japanese ancestry, who has worked with Honda's South American operations for nearly 30 years, has been appointed operating officer, Honda Motor Co. said. The appointments need shareholder approval at a meeting set for June.

Oakland restaurant hit with Consumer Alert

The Bagel Factory on Craig Street in Oakland was hit with a Consumer Alert on Monday by the Allegheny County Health Department because of mouse droppings in numerous areas of the facility. An inspector visited the restaurant in response to a consumer complaint. Inspection reports for Allegheny County restaurants are available online at webapps.achd.net/Restaurant/.

Simulation software firm OKs repurchase to 3M shares

Southpointe-based engineering simulation company Ansys approved replenishment of its authorized share repurchase program to 3 million shares. There is no expiration date for the program. Ansys closed at 84.07, up 2 percent from the previous day.

Nokia set to launch phones for emerging markets

Nokia is targeting emerging markets with three low-cost smartphones that use Google's Android operating system rather than the Windows Phone software from Microsoft, which is about to take over Nokia's handset business. Once the No. 1 maker of cell phones, Nokia has been struggling to keep up with the iPhone and devices running Android. And as competition intensifies for high-end smartphones, Nokia has been hit by competition from cheaper phones made by Chinese and other Asian companies.

PayPal war of words persists with letter to shareholders

EBay and activist shareholder Carl Icahn are continuing their war of words over PayPal. The billionaire has been pressuring the e-commerce company to spin off the online payment business. On Monday, he said in a letter to shareholders that "complete disregard for accountability at eBay is the most blatant we have ever seen." EBay responded that it continues to believe stockholders are best served by keeping PayPal as part of the company. PayPal, which eBay bought for $1.3 billion in late 2002, is now growing faster than the company's core marketplaces business. In January, eBay said Mr. Icahn had taken a less than 1 percent stake in the company.


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