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Vertex, Glaxo win US OK for HIV drug


GlaxoSmithKline PLC, the world's biggest seller of AIDS medicines, and partner Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. won Food and Drug Administration approval for a new HIV drug. Glaxo and Cambridge-based Vertex plan to sell the medicine under the brand name Lexiva, FDA spokesman Jason Brodsky said. The companies already sell Agenerase, the first HIV drug from Vertex. Sales of Lexiva might reach $375 million by 2007, said Philip Nadeau, an analyst with SG Cowen Securities. The drug faces competition from Bristol-Myers Squibb's Reyataz. Vertex doesn't expect to earn its first annual profit until it brings a third drug to market, said a company spokesman. (Bloomberg)

Fall River textile plant to close in April

Main Street Textiles will close its Fall River mill in April, leaving roughly 400 workers jobless, the company said. A letter sent to all employees last week and obtained by The Herald News of Fall River said the factory would close down April 30, and the layoffs would be staggered over the next several months. The closing of the plant will also result in the permanent loss of annual payroll and benefits worth about $25 million, company officials said. Human resources director Lou-Ann Laporte said the company had notified its 400 employees on Friday of its intent to close. She declined to comment further. The factory manufactures cloth, some of which is used in automobile upholstery. (AP)

TransCanada increases pipeline stake

For the second time in a month, Calgary-based energy conglomerate TransCanada Corp. has moved to increase its ownership stake in a key New England gas pipeline. TransCanada said it agreed to pay $137.2 million for El Paso Corp.'s 29.6 percent stake in the 290-mile Portland Natural Gas Transmission System, which brings gas from eastern Canada to New Hampshire and Massachusetts. TransCanada agreed last month to buy out DTE Energy's 10 percent interest in the pipeline. If the El Paso deal goes through, TransCanada will own 73.1 percent of the pipeline system, although that share could drop to 61.7 percent if partner Gaz Metropolitan & Co. exercises an option to pick up part of the El Paso stake. (Peter J. Howe)

Harvard to sell $92m of bonds for housing

Harvard University, with the largest endowment of any US college, plans to sell $92.2 million of revenue bonds to renovate and build housing for graduate students and faculty members. The variable-rate bonds, which are tax exempt and backed by Harvard's general obligation pledge, are slated to be sold tomorrow, according to Moody's Investors Service. Harvard's $19.2 billion endowment gained 12.5 percent in the 12 months ended June 30. The bonds will be issued next week by the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency on Harvard's behalf. Harvard assistant treasurer Laura Sander and two university spokespeople didn't return calls for comment. (Bloomberg)

General Dynamics unit wins $20m deal

General Dynamics Corp.'s Needham-based Network Systems unit said it won a 10-year contract worth up to $20 million to provide information services to the US Forestry Service. The agency is buying General Dynamics systems that will manage the mapping of land and vegetation in 18 California national forests, incorporating satellite imagery and satellite location information. The company won the contract through the former Veridian IT Services Inc. of Arlington, Va., which became part of General Dynamics through the $1.7 billion acquisition of Veridian's parent in August. (Peter J. Howe)


Cellphone directory assistance planned

US telephone companies want to create a database of mobile numbers, but its value may depend on just how many people agree to be listed. The Cellular Telephone & Internet Association, a wireless industry trade group, said it expects a wireless directory will be available within the next year. The need for such a directory will become more urgent as the number of subscribers increases, and more people replace their fixed-line home telephones with cellphones, analysts said. Already, more than 7 million people in the United States have cut the cord on home phones. But wireless carriers want to balance their customers' desire for privacy with their requests for information and convenience. Consumers would have to agree to be listed in a central database that would include the numbers for cellphone users -- regardless of their service provider -- and operators would connect calls directly without disclosing the number. (Reuters)

Banks, markets ran well during blackout

The nation's financial system functioned well during this year's massive power outage and Hurricane Isabel, with no panic on the markets and only temporary disruptions to consumers, federal officials told Congress. Officials from the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department, and the Securities and Exchange System said the largest power blackout in US history, in August, and September's hurricane caused few disruptions thanks in part to the backup systems that have been put in place in recent years. Officials saw no evidence of panic selling in financial markets or any bank runs caused by either event, which they credited to good advance preparations and efforts by authorities to let the public know quickly how the events were affecting operations. (AP)

Nike CEO to sell 7m shares through trust

Nike Inc., the world's largest athletic-shoe maker, said founder and chief executive Phil Knight has contributed 7 million common shares valued at about $447 million to a charitable trust. The trust is expected to sell the shares over the next year under a prearranged sales plan that will follow Securities and Exchange Commission guidelines regarding insider sales, the company said. Knight, 65, owned about 78.7 million shares, or 80 percent of Nike's class A stock, as of July 15, according to an SEC filing. He converted 7 million of those shares last week to the same number of shares of class B stock for the trust. A Nike spokesman didn't return a telephone call seeking comment. (Bloomberg)

Intelsat's $1.1b bid wins Loral satellites

Loral Space & Communications Ltd., which filed for bankruptcy in July, is set to sell five satellites to Intelsat Ltd. for $1.1 billion after Intelsat won an auction for the assets. The losing bidder was EchoStar Communications Corp., which owns the Dish Network satellite TV service and had offered $1.03 billion. Loral also rejected an offer by EchoStar to take over the whole company for $1.85 billion. Intelsat's deal with Loral requires the approval of a bankruptcy court in New York. A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow. If the judge approves, the deal is still subject to regulatory approval. (AP)


Sony restructuring to include job cuts

Sony Corp.'s sweeping restructuring to be unveiled next week will include job cuts and domestic TV plant closures, but details have not been made final, a company source said. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper reported the world's largest consumer electronics maker planned to cut 15,000 to 20,000 jobs by the end of March 2006. The job cuts, which will include 1,500 to 2,000 reductions at home, will amount to around 10 percent of Sony's 160,000 global work force, the paper said. The company, which in April stunned investors with a quarterly loss of almost $1 billion, will also shut down two domestic plants producing bulky cathode ray tube TVs by the end of next year, the paper said. Sony's revamping measures, to be revealed in a business strategy briefing Oct. 28, are expected to target its mainstay electronics division. (Reuters)

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