Business Briefs: Announcement expected today on WPAHS debt deal

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Announcement expected today on WPAHS debt deal

The trustee representing West Penn Allegheny Health System bondholders has scheduled a call for bondholders Thursday morning to discuss an unspecified announcement it is expecting to be made by West Penn Allegheny officials today. The health system and prospective affiliation partner Highmark Inc. have been negotiating a debt-reduction deal with bondholders that sources have told the Post-Gazette would pay them just under 90 cents on the dollar, reducing the $726 million owed to between $620 million and $630 million. A deal is considered critical to Highmark-WPAHS efforts to gain approval from the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to formalize their affiliation.

Maier will become CEO, president of FedEx Ground

FedEx announced that Henry J. Maier, who is currently the executive vice president of FedEx's Moon-based Ground unit, will take over as the president and CEO of Fed-Ex Ground when the current president and CEO, David F. Rebholz, retires on May 31.

Baker assigns executive management team

Michael Baker, facing a takeover offer from a private equity firm, said it is assigning chief operating officer G. John Kurgan to manage strategic relationships with the Moon engineering firm's key clients and markets. A team of three executives will be given Mr. Kurgan's responsibility for managing Baker's day-to-day operations. The executives are Jeffery S. Hill, S. Robert Kallenbaugh and James M. Twomey. The changes were made a month after the sudden resignation of president and CEO Bradley L. Mallory. DC Capital Partners of Alexandria, Va., made a $24.25 per share cash offer for Baker a week after Mr. Mallory resigned.

UPMC opens Italian radiosurgery center

UPMC has opened an advanced radiosurgery center, where cancer patients will undergo high-dose radiation treatments, at San Pietro Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Rome. UPMC officials say the center will be the first to offer stereotactic radiosurgery to cancer patients in Rome and the surrounding region.

Five local women honored by manufacturing industry

Five women from the Pittsburgh region were named recipients of the first Women in Manufacturing STEP awards, honoring their leadership in manufacturing. They are Colleen Wood Cordova and Martina Igel of Kennametal, Anne Herman of MSA, Vickie DeThomas of FLIR and Liz Russell of Stella-Jones Corp. The awards are sponsored by the Manufacturing Institute, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, University of Phoenix and Deloitte.

Wal-Mart to hire veterans, buy American merchandise

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the biggest private employer in the U.S. with 1.4 million workers, said Tuesday that it is rolling out a three-part plan to help jumpstart the U.S. economy. The plan includes hiring more than 100,000 veterans in the next five years, spending $50 billion to buy more American-made merchandise in the next 10 years and helping its part-time workers move into full-time positions sooner. Wal-Mart said it plans to hire every veteran that has been honorably discharged who wants a job within the first 12 months that they come off active duty. The program will start on Memorial Day.

Falling food, gas costs lower wholesale prices

U.S. wholesale prices fell for the third month in a row last month, pushed down by falling food and gas costs. The producer price index dropped 0.2 percent in December, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That follows a decline of 0.8 percent in November. Wholesale prices rose 1.3 percent in 2012, much lower than the 4.7 percent increase in 2011. Core wholesale prices, excluding the volatile food and energy categories, rose 2 percent in 2012, below a 3 percent increase in 2011.

Shoppers push up retail sales; wholesale prices fall

Economic prognosticators spent the end of 2012 fretting about looming spending cuts and toxic tax increases. Consumers, however, spent it shopping. Retail sales across the nation rose 0.5 percent to $415.7 billion in December, according to the Commerce Department. Motor vehicle dealers enjoyed a 1.8 percent bump, while clothes sellers saw sales jump 1 percent. Sales at restaurants and bars swelled 1.2 percent. Electronics retailers dipped 0.6 percent. Over all of 2012, retail sales rose 5.2 percent, according to the Commerce Department -- though the growth is smaller than the previous year's 7.9 percent surge.

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