Business news briefs: 3/29/06

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Heinz moves top execs

The H.J. Heinz Co. is shifting two top executives around as the Pittsburgh ketchup company completes the divestiture of underperforming businesses in Europe, New Zealand and Israel. After four years running Heinz Europe, Joseph Jimenez will run operations in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Stepping in to run Europe is C. Scott O'Hara, who has been executive vice president for Heinz Asia Pacific and Canada since joining the company in January from Gillette Group International. The Canadian operations will be under the direction of David C. Moran, who runs the North American Consumer Products division.

Plextronics gets funding

Harmarville-based nanotechnology firm Plextronics Inc. said the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund had invested $500,000 to help accelerate the development of its "Plexcore" electricity-carrying polymer for use in "solid state white lighting," a new form of lighting that does not use a tube or bulb.

Connection to Shanghai

Pittsburgh passengers can now connect to Shanghai via American Airlines commuter carrier American Eagle, which flies to Chicago O'Hare International Airport four times daily. Starting Sunday, American will fly nonstop from O'Hare to the Shanghai Pu Dong International Airport.

Glaxo settles with states

GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $14 million to resolve allegations from 47 states, including Pennsylvania, that state government programs paid inflated prices for the firm's anti-depressant drug Paxil. The states had alleged that Glaxo used frivolous patent-infringement lawsuits against generic drug makers, triggering automatic extensions of the patent for Paxil. That delayed the introduction of generic versions of the drug, resulting in higher prices both for Medicaid programs and the general public, according to the attorneys general who won the settlement. The company denied any wrongdoing and did not admit liability in making the settlement. The deal also applies to Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; and the Virgin Islands

Also in business ...

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline at area self-serve pumps fell one-half cent to $2.503 this week from the previous week, AAA East Central reported ... Federated Department Stores Inc. announced a 2-for-1 stock split. The split, which will increase the number of common shares to 1 billion from 500 million, will take effect June 9 to shareholders of record May 26 ... Steelers coach Bill Cowher's image will be on the cover of NFL Head Coach, a new video game from Electronic Arts. The game will be available June 20.


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