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Archive for March, 2009

MasterCard CEO’s compensation drops 19 percent to $11.3 million

March
31

Robert W. Selander earned $11.3 million in total compensation last year as chief executive officer at MasterCard Inc., the world’s second largest credit and debit card brand.

That was 19 percent less than Selander’s compensation of $13.9 million in 2007, according to the company’s proxy statement.

MasterCard has withstood the global credit and economic crisis better than most financial companies. The company’s net revenue for the fourth quarter was $1.2 billion, up 14.2 percent from a year earlier, as the company benefited from consumers shifting more purchases to electronic transactions from cash and checks. MasterCard also has cut costs as the U.S. economy slowed.

MasterCard paid Selander a salary of $983,333 last year, up 9 percent from the previous year. His bonus of $68,833 dropped 17 percent from $82,800 a year earlier. Selander’s 2008 compensation also included $3.66 million in stock awards and $2.75 million in option awards.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
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IBM signs tech contract with mobile phone retailer

March
31

IBM Corp. has signed a contract to provide information technology services to The Carphone Warehouse, a retailer of mobile phones and services in Europe. Under the agreement, Armonk-based IBM will provide infrastructure services for servers, storage, desktop and other tech products. Financial details of the contract were not disclosed.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 at 11:51 am |
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Pepsi Bottling to buy Texas bottler

March
31

Pepsi Bottling Group Inc., the world’s largest distributor of Pepsi products, said that it agreed to buy Better Beverages, Ltd., a Pepsi and Dr Pepper bottler in central Texas. Better Beverages, which employs 180 workers, serves markets in 20 Texas counties.

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. Somers-based Pepsi Bottling said that it expected to complete the acqusition during the second quarter.

“We continue to make investments that will expand our business in ways that both strengthen our ability to meet the needs of our customers and enhance our long-term growth prospects,” Pepsi Bottling Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Eric Foss said in a written statement.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 at 11:49 am |
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Court dismisses discrimination suit against Wyeth

March
31

Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. has won another lawsuit filed by a former employee who alleged she was the victim of racial discrimination at the company’s Pearl River plant.

U.S. District Court Judge William Conner of White Plains dismissed the lawsuit filed by Nadine Aspilaire, who worked for Wyeth from 2000 to 2005.

Aspilaire is one of eight black current and former workers to sue the company for racial discrimination. The company has now won five of the lawsuits at the trial court level and three are still pending.

Aspilaire and her lawyer sought to show that the company retailiated against her after she complained she was being treated unfairly because of her race.

Posted by Mike Bieger on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 at 9:43 am |
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Acorda shares drop after FDA issues letter

March
31

Shares of Hawthorne-based Acorda Therapeutics fell 19 percent this morning after federal regulators refused to accept the company’s application for Fampridine-SR, a drug for people with multiple sclerosis.

The company said the Food and Drug Administration issued a “refuse to file” letter for the drug, which would help people with multiple sclerlosis walk. The FDA has “format issues” with the company’s electronic submission. The company said the FDA wants some of the data put into a different format and also requested some additional information.

“We are surprised by this development,” Dr. Ron Cohen, the company’s president and chief executive, said in a statement released by the company. “We plan to address the issues raised in this letter with (the) FDA expeditiously, as we believe Fampridine-SR is potentially an important, first-in-class treatment option for people suffering with MS.”

Acorda shares were trading at $20.13, down $4.77 or 19.16 percent at 10 a.m.

Posted by Mike Bieger on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 at 9:25 am |
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Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to host jobs event

March
30

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Westchester/Hudson Valley Chapter will host its second “Pink Slip Party” for job hunters in the financial and professional services fields on Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event wll be held at Vintage Bar & Restaurant, 171 Main Street, White Plains.

The event is designed as a forum where job seekers can network with recruiters in the region. Sixteen recruiters from the New York metropolitan area and career coaches are expected to attend.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Monday, March 30th, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
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PepsiCo to be major sponsor at new Mets park

March
30

Fans attending New York Mets games this year at the team’s new ballpark, Citi Field, may notice a 37-foot by 89-foot Pepsi sign that sits atop the “Pepsi Porch,” a 1,284-seat area in right field that extends over the playing field.

The giant sign, which also will be visible from downtown Flushing and nearby highways and subway lines, is part of a marketing partnership that Purchase-based PepsiCo and the Mets announced yesterday.

The agreement designates the company’s flagship soda as the official soft drink of the Mets and its Gatorade brand as the team’s official sports drink. PepsiCo will promote other brands in its broad beverage portfolio, including Aquafina, Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist.

The regular season opening day at the 42,000-seat stadium is scheduled for April 13.

“The new Mets’ home is a premier facility that is already a top attraction in New York and we couldn’t be happier to have a visible presence there,” Dave Burwick, chief marketing officer for PepsiCo North America Beverages, said in a written statement. “We look forward to continuing the successful partnership we have enjoyed with the Mets over the last several years and to bringing the fans unique experiences at the ballpark.”

Posted by Jay Loomis on Monday, March 30th, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
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Church groups seek ITT arms report

March
27

Three church groups will ask shareholders of ITT Corp. of White Plains to require the defense contractor to report on its foreign sales of weapons-related and military services.
The Dominican Sisters of Hope, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church plan to present the resolution at ITT’s annual meeting at its White Plains headquarters on May 12, according to the company’s proxy statement filed today.
The resolution would require the company to file a “comprehensive” report, excluding proprietary or classified data, within six months of the meeting. The resolution notes that two years ago ITT was fined $50 million for violating rules governing the handling of documents related to overseas military contracts.
“Weapons sold to one country at a certain time subsequently can become a threat to our own security, as we have seen several times in our recent history,” the church groups said in a statement accompanying the resolution. The report would help shareholders evaluate the effectiveness of new procedures the company has put in place to prevent further violations of the law, the groups added.
In arguing against the resolution, ITT said that the information already is in the public record through government agencies, ITT’s own annual report, and its Web site. Among other organizations, it cited the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (www dsca.mil,) which lists contracts and public notices of proposed military sales overseas.

Posted by Jerry Gleeson on Friday, March 27th, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
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Pepsi Bottling hikes dividend by 6 percent

March
26

Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. of Somers is increasing its quarterly dividend by 6 percent. The world’s largest distributor of Pepsi products said that the hike from 17 cents to 18 cents a share marked the sixth consecutive year that the Pepsi Bottling board has raised the dividend. During that span, Pepsi Bottling has paid $4.2 billion in dividends.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Thursday, March 26th, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
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Wyeth laying off 13 in Pearl River

March
26

Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. plans to lay off 13 unionized workers in the packaging department at its Pearl River plant, a company spokesman confirmed today.

The unionized jobs are being eliminated to align the size of the work force with the company’s production needs, Grace Ann Arnold said. The demand for products produced in Pearl River has dropped, she said.

She stressed that the cuts have nothing to do with the company’s pending purchase by Pfizer Inc. Pfizer and Wyeth announced in January that Pfizer would buy Wyeth for $68 billion.

Pfizer has said that it will close factories but has not identified which ones.

Kevin Puglia, the president of Local 143C of the International Chemical Workers Union, said workers are on edge about the purchase.

“There’s certainly the anticipation of stress in this place,” he said. “Nobody’s sure what’s coming.”
The 13 workers who got the bad news this week work in the part of the Wyeth operation that packages the Centrum vitamins, he said.

Usually when the company eliminates jobs the workers are able to take other jobs that the company has left open, Puglia said. “But there’s no place for these people to land,” he said.

Posted by Allan Drury on Thursday, March 26th, 2009 at 10:56 am |
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Curemark to begin tests of drug in autism victims

March
25

Curemark LLC, a Rye-based drug research and development company focused on neurological diseases, said that it has received regulatory clearance to start a drug testing program.

The tests, designed to study the effectiveness of Curemark’s CM-AT medication as an autism treatment, are expected to begin the tests at multiple sites across the country during the second quarter.

“With 1 in 150 children diagnosed with autism, we have children who are suffering,” Dr. Joan Fallon, Curemark’s chief executive officer, said in a written statement. “We are very excited about the opportunity to enter a Phase III trial for this ever-growing population of children.”

Posted by Jay Loomis on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
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Broadview Networks lands Massachusetts contract

March
25

Broadview Networks, a Rye Brook-based business communications provider, said that the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce in Massachusetts has selected the company as its primary voice and Internet service provider. The Cape Ann chamber serves business communities in Gloucester, Rockport, Essex and Manchester-by-the-Sea.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
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Regeneron begins drug testing program for gout patients

March
25

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biotech company in Eastview, said that it has started a testing program to evaluate the effectiveness of its Arcalyst drug as a treatment for gout.

Regeneron said that it expected to release preliminary results of the tests in 2010. The testiing program will involve hundreds of patients.

“Nearly one and a half million Americans are treated for gout each year, but significant unmet medical needs persist,” Dr. George D. Yancopoulos, president of Regeneron Research Laboratories, said in a written statement.

Arcalyst, Regeneron’s only marketable drug, was approved last year for treatment of a rare auto-inflammatory condition known as CAPS.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
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Starwood to relocate luxury brand offices in Manhattan

March
25

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. of White Plains said that it is relocating the offices for its luxury brands from their old location in Manhattan’s Chelsea district to a new space on Varick Street in the city’s SoHo area.

The office will handle global marketing, brand management and design teams for the company’s W Hotels, Le MÇridien, St. Regis and The Luxury Collection. The office also will include space for Starwood’s Bliss and Remäde Spa teams. About 150 employees will work in the office.

Starwood’s corporate headquarters remains in White Plains.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
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IBM to provide services for Chinese rail system

March
25

IBM Corp. announced an agreement to provide technology services to Guangzhou Metro Corp., the operator of a rapid transit system in one of China’s largest cities.

Under the agreement, Armonk-based IBM will help Guangzhou Metro manage its information technology systems and its spawling network of four commuter lines, 60 stations and more than 72 miles of rail track. The transit system serves more than two million passengers a day. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

In addition to the Chinese project, IBM is seeking a share of the $8 billion investment in high-speed rail systems in the United States, according to Bloomberg News. That investment was included in the $787 billion economic stimulus package that was signed into law last month by President Barack Obama.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
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PepsiCo introdues lighter Aquafina bottles

March
25

PepsiCo Inc. said that it has introduced a lighter bottle for its Aquafina brand of water that uses 50 percent less plastic as it makes its products friendlier for the environment.

The Purchase-based beverage and snack food giant added that the product, known as the Eco-Fina Bottle, will weigh 10.9 grams and conserve an estimated 75 million pounds of plastic annually. PepsiCo called it the lightest half-liter bottle on the market.

The company said that it also expects to save 20 million pounds of cardboard by 2010 by eliminating cardboard base pads from 24-packs of the water. PepsiCo will start shipping the new bottles to stores in April. Across the company, PepsiCo said that it has set goals to cut its use of water and energy by 20 percent and curb fuel consumption by 25 percent by 2015.

The lighter packaging for Aquafina comes at a time when the bottled water industry is battling a sales slump. Industry analysts have said that consumers have been drinking less bottled water because they are looking to cut costs in a slow economy. In addition to the economic pressures, the bottled water industry also has faced attacks from activists challenging the environmental impact of the product.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
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Krugman talk rescheduled for May 1

March
25

New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman will speak on the national economy on Friday, May 1 at 1 p.m at Westchester Community College’s Academic Arts Building Theatre in Valhalla. The free event is rescheduled from earlier this month, when it was postponed for weather.
Krugman, who won the 2008 Nobel Prize for Economics, is a professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University on Friday, May 1. For information, call 914-606-6900.

Posted by Jerry Gleeson on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 8:35 am |
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Volkswagen to boost factory efficiency using IBM technology

March
24

Volkswagen Group, Germany’s largest auto company, is turning to IBM Corp. for help in making its manufacturing more efficient through advanced sensor technology.

Volkswagen is getting ready to install the new system, known as radio-frequency identification, at a major German plant with the assistance of Armonk-based IBM.

Under the RFID system, shipping containers of auto parts bound for Volkswagen’s factory assembly line are marked with RFID tags. High-tech reader devices and workers with handheld scanners can track the tagged containers as they move from point to point from suppliers to Volkswagen.

In a recently completed one-year pilot project, Volkswagen placed RFID tags on 3,000 shipping containers carrying sunroofs for the new Volkswagen Golf. Readers at the entrances to the Volkswagen manufacturing line, and mobile handheld scanners, were able to identify the containers and the sunroofs inside.

“The pilot project has been ground-breaking,” said Kurt Rindle, IBM global sensor solutions executive, in a written statement. “Volkswagen is driving innovation by becoming the first vehicle manufacturer to make daily use of RFID technology in the flow of materials between suppliers and the manufacturing line.”

Volkswagen said that RFID can also cut paperwork and overhead for manufacturers.

“The pilot project showed that we can reliably integrate RFID technology into our business processes at a low cost,” said Klaus Hardy Mühleck, head of group information technolgy at Volkswagen.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
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Online textbook company in Nyack announces $8 million investment

March
24

Three venture capital firms agreed to invest $8 million in Flat World Knowledge, a Nyack-based company that offers college textbooks over the Internet. The investors include Valhalla Partners of Vienna, Va., Greenhill SAVP of New York City and High Peaks Venture Partners of Troy.

Executives at two-year-old privately held Flat World Knowledge have said the concept of online books is making inroads as college professors and students look for alternatives to the rising costs of traditional textbooks.

Flat World Knowledge, founded by former textbook industry executives, said that it recently completed successful tests of its online books at more than 40 colleges and universities. The company added that it has 22 business and economics textbooks in its pipeline.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
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Student career day to focus on construction jobs

March
24

More than 1,000 high school students from Rockland, Westchester, Orange and Putnam counties are expected to participate in classes on how to weld pipes, operate an excavator and perform other construction jobs during the Ninth Annual Hudson Valley Construction Career Day at the Rockland Community College Field House in Suffern on Friday.

The event, scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., is designed to familiarize students with the jobs available in the construction industry for new entrants to the work force.

Admission is free. For more information about the career day, contact the Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley at 914-631-6070.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
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Business in the Burbs is our online news blog about businesses based or operating in the Lower Hudson Valley. Visitors here will also find items of interest to consumers in the region. Most contributions are from business reporters and editors covering Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.

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