Business Briefs: Highmark lays off about 100 employees

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Highmark lays off

About 100 employees, 40 in Pittsburgh, were laid off by Highmark Inc. on Wednesday "in a variety of health plan operations areas," according to a company statement. More than half of these positions eventually will be re-established via new hires, Highmark said. Highmark has laid off more than 250 in the last two months. 

URA voting on terminal

The board of the Urban Redevelopment Authority will vote on Thursday on a contract with consultant Fourth Economy Consulting to evaluate alternative plans for the Strip District's produce terminal. On his first full day in office, Mayor Bill Peduto successfully persuaded developer Buncher Co., which had plans to demolish a portion of the terminal for redevelopment, to put its plans on hold while the administration explored other options. URA director Robert Rubinstein said Fourth Economy Consulting is slated to receive a $35,000 contract to aid the authority in constructing a request for proposals and to vet proposals. 

Business volunteers to be honored

As a way to commemorate the legacy of children's programming pioneer Fred Rogers, 11 organizations will be honored for their commitment to workplace volunteerism during Fred Rogers Good Neighbor Day  on March 20 which is Mr. Rogers' birthday. The honorees include the following for-profit and nonprofit organizations: Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, Chatham University Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, First Niagara Financial Group, Highmark, Lunova Group, Pittsburgh Steelers Sports, Schneider Downs & Co., UPMC, The Williams Companies, and Port Authority of Allegheny County/ATU Local 85. The event at the East End Cooperative Ministry is sponsored by the United Way of Allegheny County and the Fred Rogers Co.

City ranks as affordable

Pittsburgh is ranked as the 17th most affordable city in the United States, according to Forbes magazine, which said it analyzed housing costs, as well as costs of food, utilities, gas, transportation, and medical expenses, among other things. Home costs had a heavy weighting in the analysis because a home is typically the single largest purchase most people make. Buffalo was considered by Forbes to be the nation’s most affordable city in which to live, followed by Memphis, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Knoxville, Tenn. New York and Honolulu tied for the most overpriced.

Airline industry profit outlook cut 

Airline earnings for 2014 will be $1 billion or 5 percent lower than previously predicted as political tensions drive up oil prices and growth in emerging markets slows, the International Air Transport Association said. Carriers will earn a combined net income of $18.7 billion, versus the $19.7 billion forecast on Dec. 12, the Geneva-based industry group said Wednesday. 

Eastman Kodak names new CEO

Rochester, N.Y.-based Eastman Kodak has tapped Orbitz chairman Jeffrey Clarke as its new CEO, taking over from Antonio Perez. The photography and film pioneer, which emerged from bankruptcy in September, said Wednesday that Mr. Perez will remain as a special adviser to its board. Mr. Clarke will continue as chairman of online travel company Orbitz Worldwide Inc.

Energy XXI buying EPL Oil & Gas for about $1.53B

Energy XXI is buying EPL Oil & Gas Inc. for about $1.53 billion in a deal that the companies say will create the biggest publicly-owned independent oil producer on the Gulf of Mexico shelf. Energy XXI Chairman and CEO John Schiller will serve as chairman and CEO of the combined company, which will be based in Houston.The transaction still needs approval from both companies’ shareholders.

Maker of 'Candy Crush' sees $613 million in IPO

The company behind the blockbuster game “Candy Crush Saga” believes it could raise nearly $613 million in an initial public offering. In a regulatory filing Wednesday, King Digital Entertainment PLC said it plans to sell 15.3 million shares in the offering. The shares are expected to be priced between $21 and $24.

Also in business ...

Saxonburg-based laser and infrared technology company II-VI announced that Mary Jane Raymond has been appointed as Chief Financial Officer. Ms. Raymond, who will replace outgoing CFO Craig A. Creaturo, will take the position effective March 20. Mr. Creaturo will remain with the company in an advisory position from April 4 through August. 

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