Business News Briefs: Alcoa CEO cancels Russian forum visit

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Alcoa CEO cancels Russian forum visit

Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa Inc. chief executive officer, won’t attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia this month after the White House lobbied the country’s top corporate leaders to avoid the event. “In light of the U.S. government’s requirements, Alcoa has adjusted its attendance,” Monica Orbe, a spokeswoman for New York-based Alcoa, said in an emailed statement. The company will “participate via its most senior Russian executives,” she said.


Pittsburgh-region banks report lower interest rates


Banks and credit unions in the Pittsburgh region on average are paying lower interest rates on CDs, checking, savings and money market accounts than the national average, according to a recent survey by Among banks in the region, Dollar Bank offered the highest annual yield, 1.05 percent, available on its FreeMoney savings accounts. First Niagara was next, offering 0.75 percent on a two-year promotional CD; followed by Sewickley Savings Bank, 0.70 percent on a two-year CD; Fifth Third Bank, 0.60 percent on preferred checking; and S&T Bank, 0.60 percent on a club bonus special two-year CD.

Bloomfield eatery given consumer alert

Zen Asian Diner on Butler Street in Bloomfield was hit with a consumer alert this week by the Allegheny County Health Department for numerous critical food safety violations. Some included sewage in the basement, rat droppings, food being held at unsafe temperatures, cross contamination with raw foods, lack of hand washing and lack of soap. Inspection reports for restaurants in the county are available online at

Generic drugs, acquisition boost CVS Caremark Q1

CVS Caremark’s first-quarter earnings jumped 18 percent as generic drugs and an acquisition helped the drugstore chain and pharmacy benefits manager weather rough winter storms. The company runs the nation’s second-largest drugstore chain, with many of its nearly 7,700 stores on the East Coast and in the Midwest, areas blasted by snowstorms and subzero temperatures this past winter. CVS Caremark said that weather, plus a weaker flu season compared to last year, hurt sales at its established stores. CVS Caremark Corp. also runs one of the biggest pharmacy benefits management operations. Sales from that unit, which runs prescription drug plans for employers and other clients, climbed more than 10 percent to top $20 billion in the quarter.

AstraZeneca rejects sweetened Pfizer takeover bid

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca rejected drugmaker Pfizer’s sweetened takeover bid — worth $106 billion — just hours after it was leveled, describing it as inadequate. After being rebuffed twice, Pfizer Inc., the maker of Viagra, made a third attempt for the London-based rival Friday, offering 50 pounds ($84) a share in cash and stock, a 7.3 percent increase on its last bid. AstraZeneca’s board said the terms were not right and the price substantially undervalued the company. The Anglo-Swedish firm said the potentially lucrative “pipeline” of new drugs it is developing would be disrupted by a takeover and its possible consequences.

U.S. factory orders increase 1.1 percent in March

Orders to U.S. factories advanced strongly in March for a second month while demand in a key category that signals business investment plans increased by the largest amount in more than a year. The strength was further evidence the economy was rebounding after a harsh winter. Orders increased 1.1 percent in March after increasing 1.5 percent in February, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Those gains followed two months of declines in December and January. 

News Corp. buys romance publisher Harlequin for $415M

Rupert Murdoch is doubling down on romance. News Corp. is buying Harlequin Enterprises, a publisher of novels such as “Destiny’s Last Bachelor?” and “The Heartbreaker Prince,” for C$455 million ($415 million) in cash. Mr. Murdoch is purchasing Harlequin from Canada’s Torstar Corp. and will fold it into News Corp.’s HarperCollins books unit, which already has a romance imprint called Avon Romance. Harlequin was founded 65 years ago and grew to become the world’s biggest publisher of romance novels. The acquisition gives HarperCollins a foothold in 11 foreign countries and expertise in translations. 

From staff and wire reports 

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