Business Briefs: Civic Arena site will become parking lot
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The city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority board cleared the way Thursday for an 800-space parking lot at the site of the former Civic Arena. Board members authorized a $542,984 change order to Noralco Corp., the company that demolished the arena, to construct a temporary lot. Parking is expected to start in August. Rates, to be set by the Pittsburgh Penguins team, have yet to be set.
Highmark Inc. is discontinuing Signature 65, one of its over-65 supplemental health plans, for small-group employers with 50 or fewer employees, effective January 2013. Enrollment has declined for the last several years. Medicare prescription drug plans offered in conjunction with the Signature 65 product also will be canceled for groups with fewer than 10 enrollees. The product has about 8,500 total members in Western Pennsylvania, and about 2,000 will be affected by the small-group cancellation.
Wabtec Corp. announced Thursday it has acquired Mors Smitt Holding, a leading manufacturer of electronic components for rail and industrial markets, from the investment company Eurazeo PME for about $88 million. The Netherlands-based Mors Smitt has about 350 employees, annual sales of about $60 million and operations in the U.S, the United Kingdom, France, China and Hong Kong.
International flight training school Pan Am Academy announced a global agreement with Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Speech, a developer of spoken language training software, on Wednesday. The firm's NativeAccent technology, which assesses and diagnoses students' speech patterns, will be used with its aviation-specific Climb Level 4 software to increase English proficiency among pilots. Pan Am has flight academies at six locations in the United States and partnerships in schools across Europe and Asia.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the consumer price index dropped 0.3 percent, the most since December 2008, pulled down by a 6.8 percent plunge in gas prices. So-called "core" prices, which exclude food and energy, rose 0.2 percent for the third straight month. Over the past 12 months ending in May, consumer prices rose 1.7 percent. Core prices have risen 2.3 percent in the past year.
Lenders initiated foreclosure proceedings against more U.S. homeowners in May, setting the stage for increases in home repossessions and short sales -- scenarios that could further weigh down home values in coming months. Default or scheduled-home-auction notices were filed for the first time against 109,051 homes last month. That's an increase of 12 percent from April and up 16 percent versus May last year, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.71 percent. That's up from 3.67 percent last week, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s. The average rate on the 15-year mortgage rose to 2.98 percent, up from 2.94 percent last week, also a record low.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday that it has added Cherokee and Liberty models to an investigation into gas tank fires in older-model Jeep Grand Cherokees. The SUVs' gas tanks can be damaged in a rear-impact crash and leak, causing fires. The investigation affects 1993-2004 Grand Cherokees as well as 1993-2001 Cherokees and 2002-2007 Liberty SUVs. Chrysler, which makes Jeeps, says the vehicles are safe and meet federal standards.
Microsoft Corp. is in discussions to acquire Yammer Inc., operator of a social network for businesses, said two people familiar with the matter. Microsoft may pay more than $1 billion, and a deal may be reached as soon as tomorrow. Yammer is used by more than 200,000 companies, including Ford Motor Co. and eBay Inc.
From staff and wire reports
First Published June 15, 2012 12:00 am