Business Briefs: Ontario steel workers reject offer

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Steel workers locked out of U.S. Steel's Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke, Ontario, since April 28 rejected a contract offer from the company. United Steelworkers Local 8782 said 71 percent of the 771 members who voted Wednesday were against the proposal. The plant accounts for about 10 percent of U.S. Steel's capacity. The lockout contributed to the $78 million second quarter loss the company reported Monday.

Kennametal acquisition over

Kennametal completed its previously disclosed acquisition of the operating assets of Comercializadora Emura, a Bolivian tungsten ore producer. Terms were not disclosed.

New ownership in Downtown

The 27-story Liberty Center office building and accompanying Westin Convention Center hotel Downtown are under new ownership. Starwood Capital Group, a Greenwich, Conn.-based global investment company, formally closed on the purchase of the properties today. The sales price was not immediately available. CBRE was the broker on the sale. Both properties were put for sale early this year by Cleveland developer Forest City Enterprises. Neither Jeff Linton, a Forest City spokesman, nor Tom Johnson, a Starwood spokesman, could be reached for comment.

Water filtration goes overseas

Calgon Carbon said Thames Water, the United Kingdom's largest provider of drinking water and wastewater services, has awarded it a 10-year contract to reactivate activated carbon used to remove impurities from water. The contract will enable Thames to use the same material rather than purchase more expensive activated carbon. The Robinson environmental products and services company said the value of the contract is based on how much of the used carbon it processes each year, which is expected to be about 11 million pounds.

Trust to sell Ampco shares

Ampco-Pittsburgh Corp. said a trust created by former chairman Louis Berkman may sell up to 215,000 shares, or 2 percent of the company's stock, to satisfy the family's liquidity and diversification objectives. The sales would begin no earlier than Sept. 3 and will be disclosed in securities filings. Chairman and CEO Robert A. Paul and his wife are co-trustees of the trust. The plans do not include any shares the Pauls own directly, the company said.

$24B project canceled

Duke Energy on Thursday announced it will cancel its engineering, procurement and construction project with Westinghouse Electric Co. and two other firms to build two AP1000 plants in Levy County, Fla. The $24 billion project has been in a holding pattern for years. Westinghouse signed a contract with Progress Energy, which was bought by Duke, in 2009 to put two new nuclear reactors into operation by 2016. By the beginning of last year, delays in federal licensing and the utility's re-evaluating of the economics of building new nuclear plants had the project at a standstill. Thursday, as part of a settlement with Florida consumer advocates, Duke said it would terminate the contract but it left open the possibility of reconsidering the project at a later date.

City christens bigger plane

Travelers from Pittsburgh to Chicago on American Airlines now will have a bigger plane on which to fly. Pittsburgh is one of three cities that will be christening the Embraer E-175 regional jet for American with an inaugural flight today. The new jet, to be operated by Republic Airlines for American, will have 76 seats -- 12 in first class and 64 in the main coach, including 20 with extra legroom. American now flies 50- to 65-seat regional jets to Chicago from Pittsburgh. The new plane, which will have full-size overhead bins, leather seats and adjustable head rests, will be used on one roundtrip flight each day. American currently has seven flights a day to Chicago from Pittsburgh.

Court halts debt scheme

The Federal Trade Commission halted a debt collection operation that allegedly extorted payments from consumers by using false threats of lawsuits and campaigns to embarrass people by unlawfully contacting family members, friends ad coworkers. A court order stops the illegal conduct, freezes assets and appoints a temporary receiver to take over the business while the FTC moves forward with the case. The suit charged four individuals and seven companies that used various business names including Western Performance Group.

Bankruptcy plan approved

Creditors overwhelmingly approved the bankruptcy reorganization plan for American Airlines parent AMR Corp., which includes a merger with US Airways that would create the world's biggest airline. The plan still needs approval from a federal bankruptcy judge in New York, who has scheduled a confirmation hearing for Aug. 15. Antitrust regulators in the U.S. Department of Justice also are reviewing the merger.

From staff and wire reports



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