Business news briefs: Highmark launches WPAHS tender offer

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Highmark launches WPAHS tender offer

Health insurer Highmark Inc. has formally launched its offer to buy back outstanding West Penn Allegheny Health System series 2007A revenue bonds, part of the insurer's bid to reduce WPAHS's debt load and avoid bankruptcy for the hospital system. Highmark already has agreed to a bond price for the series' major bondholders, which control about 76 percent of the WPAHS debt series. But the balance of the debt, about $170 million, remains in other hands. The tender offer runs through April 26.

$28B Heinz acquisition moves toward completion

The acquisition of Pittsburgh food company H.J. Heinz has won another approval, as the $28 billion deal moves toward completion. The Competition Commission of India said this week that since neither Berkshire Hathaway nor 3G Capital, the two would-be acquirers, have any food businesses in that country, it does not see any competitive concerns.

Nonpublic shares sale earns $10M for Aquion

Aquion Energy has raised nearly $10 million through the sale of nonpublic shares to accredited investors, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The sodium-ion battery technology firm hopes to raise $50 million through the exempt offering. Earlier this month, it was announced that Aquion had closed on a round of Series D funding worth $35 million. Investors in that round included Microsoft Inc. chairman Bill Gates. Last year, Aquion leased a 250,000-square-foot space in the former Sony television manufacturing facility in East Huntington. The Carnegie Mellon University spinoff was founded in 2007 as 44 Tech Inc. and changed its name to Aquion Energy in 2010.

Research firm Novum to open Houston facility

Pittsburgh-based Novum Pharmaceutical Research Services will be opening a new early-stage clinical facility in Houston in August that will feature seven research units with 225 beds. The company provides clinical research and other services for pharmaceutical and related industries.

Boneless chicken will appear on KFC menus

In case Americans want to scarf down their fast-food even faster, KFC is stripping the bones out of its chicken. The fast-food chain is introducing deep-fried boneless chicken pieces April 14. Based on customer trends, the chain says bones could eventually disappear from its menu. Initially, the boneless chicken will only be offered in 4,500 locations.

Portrait studios operator abruptly shutters outlets

St. Louis-based CPI Corp., the financially struggling operator of more than 2,000 U.S. portrait studios in locations such as Wal-Mart and Sears stores, has abruptly shuttered those outlets, leaving some laid-off workers scrambling -- without pay -- to make good on customers' orders. Calls to the company were not answered Friday.

Consumer borrowing hits record: Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve said Friday that consumer borrowing rose $18.2 billion in February from January. That's up from a gain of $12.7 billion in the previous month. The increase brought total borrowing to a seasonally adjusted $2.8 trillion. That's up from $2.78 trillion in January and also a record. Nearly all of gains were in a category that covers student and auto loans.

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