Business Briefs: 5/13/14

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At U.S. Steel HQ, mum’s the word

U.S. Steel declined to comment on media reports that it was among the parties interested in acquiring steel plants in Michigan and Mississippi from Russian producer Severstal. Rumors of talks between the two producers have circulated for several weeks.

Duquesne, Urban Innovation21 plan community lab

Duquesne Univer­sity has en­tered a part­ner­ship with Hill Dis­trict-based com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment pro­gram Ur­ban In­no­va­tion21 to cre­ate a bio­tech­nol­ogy lab­o­ra­tory for com­mu­nity use. The or­ga­ni­za­tions will use $550,000 in grants to cre­ate the 1,500-square-foot space, which will serve mid­dle and high school stu­dents, adult stu­dents, start­ups and work­force de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives. The lab is sched­uled to open this fall.

Solera Holdings to acquire Glass Works’ unit

Solera Holdings said it will acquire the insurance and services division of Pittsburgh Glass Works for $280 million cash. Texas-based Solera provides software and services for auto insurance claims processing. Solera expects the deal to close by June 30. Pittsburgh Glass Works, based on the North Side, could not be reached for comment. 

Frozen food marketing heats up as sales lag

Frozen food makers are getting fresh. The American Frozen Food Institute, an industry group, will feature its first national TV ad in defense of their products on Tuesday as the category fights to boost slipping sales. The ad will include the tag line “Frozen: How Fresh Stays Fresh.”

Hillshire looks beyond meat with Birds Eye

Hill­shire Brands is push­ing fur­ther out­side the deli case with a deal to buy the maker of Birds Eye fro­zen veg­e­ta­bles, Dun­can Hines cakes mixes and Hun­gry-Man fro­zen din­ners. The Chi­cago-based com­pany — which makes Hill­shire Farm lunch meats, Jimmy Dean sau­sages and Ball Park franks — said Mon­day that it would buy Pin­na­cle Foods in a deal val­ued at $4.23 bil­lion. Pin­na­cle’s other brands in­clude Wish-Bone salad dress­ing and Vla­sic pick­les. 

Allergan board unanimously spurns takeover offer

Botox maker Allergan formally rejected on Monday a takeover bid from Valeant Pharmaceuticals, saying that the unsolicited offer worth nearly $46 billion undervalues the company. Allergan has a so-called poison pill plan, a defensive tactic that makes a buyout prohibitively expensive. Valeant spokeswoman Laurie Little said Monday in an email that her company was disappointed that Allergan made its decision without “engaging in any substantive discussions.”

Pfizer to keep jobs in Britain if merger goes through

Pfizer pledged Mon­day to keep jobs in Brit­ain if it suc­ceeds in its ef­forts to take over the Brit­ish drug­maker AstraZen­eca and ques­tioned whether AstraZen­eca can stand on its own much lon­ger. AstraZen­eca — which em­ploys 51,500 peo­ple world­wide, in­clud­ing about 6,700 in Brit­ain — has re­buffed take­over ap­proaches from Pfizer. The deal would al­low Pfizer to re­in­cor­po­rate in Brit­ain and avoid higher U.S. cor­po­rate taxes.

Cambodia's Caltex gas station workers on strike

Workers at U.S.-owned Caltex gas stations in Cambodia went on strike Monday to demand higher wages and better working conditions. A strike leader, Sar Mora, said at least 250 Cambodian employees halted work, forcing at least 17 of the country’s 26 Caltex stations to suspend operations. Chanlek Than, a spokeswoman for Chevron Corp., the owner of Caltex, said it is working to resolve the dispute.

From staff and wire reports

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