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Roundup: US Airways revenue cut $30M by Sandy; FirstEnergy to build $45M control center; more

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

US Airways says Sandy cut revenue by $30M

US Airways Group Inc. said Monday that Superstorm Sandy hurt October revenue by $30 million, and reduced October profit by $15 million. Pittsburgh's largest airline said that November earnings will be hurt by about $20 million because of the storm. The airline said that given the impact on travel in the Northeast, total bookings fell by 13 percent in the days leading up to, and after, the storm between Oct. 24 and Nov. 3, compared to the same period last year.

Fidelity Bank shareholders OK merger with WesBanco

Shareholders of Fidelity Bancorp Inc. approved the Perrysville-based bank's merger into West Virginia-based WesBanco Inc. at a special meeting on Tuesday. Terms of the $71 million deal, announced in July, call for Fidelity shareholders to receive 0.8275 shares of WesBanco stock and $4.50 in cash for each Fidelity share. The acquisition is expected to be completed on Friday. Fidelity operates 13 branches in the Pittsburgh area.

Judge OKs plan for bankrupt country club in Ross

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge on Tuesday authorized a bankruptcy plan that moves private homebuilder Heartland Homes a step closer to building up to 300 homes on a shuttered 120-acre county club and golf course in Ross. Heartland Homes agreed to pay off a more than $2 million delinquent mortgage on Highland Country Club held by Slovak Savings Bank of Brighton Heights and more than $90,000 in back taxes owed to Ross, North Hills School District and Allegheny County. Payments would be made as lots for the houses are sold over the next five years. Heartland Homes is pursuing approvals for its development from Ross officials. Highland Country Club opened in 1920. It closed in October 2011 after months of failing to pay its bills. Two months later, a co-owner pleaded guilty to stealing money from the club. Heartland and another developer teamed to buy the club's bankrupt ownership group in April. Judge Jeffrey A. Deller approved the plan at a Downtown hearing.

Highmark settlement hearing delayed until January

A pending settlement between a Whitehall property management company and health insurer Highmark Inc. was delayed on Monday in federal court in Pittsburgh. U.S. District Court Judge Joy Flowers Conti continued a hearing on the settlement until Jan. 18 and asked attorneys for Highmark and Royal Mile Co. to file supplemental briefs by Jan. 11. Royal Mile Co. sued Highmark and UPMC in 2010, alleging that the two health care giants had conspired to drive up health insurance premiums. In October, Royal Mile reached an agreement with Highmark to settle the case. Under the pending deal, Highmark would pay $4.5 million plus attorney fees and agree to refrain from anti-competitive practices until Dec. 31, 2014. If the settlement is approved by Conti, UPMC would be left as the lone defendant in the lawsuit.

FirstEnergy plans to build $45M control center in Ohio

FirstEnergy Corp. said Tuesday it will build a $45 million transmission control center in Akron that will monitor electrical grid reliability in several areas where the company has operations, including the Penn Power service area in Western Pennsylvania. Construction is to start in the spring with completion by the end of 2013. Akron-based FirstEnergy said the environmentally friendly center will replace the current Ohio Transmission Control Center in Wadsworth; most of the 112 employees there will transfer to Akron. A center in Fairmont, W.Va., will continue to monitor transmission in three FirstEnergy utilities, including West Penn Power.

PNC Bank to close branchesin Freeport, Mt. Lebanon

PNC Bank will close two branches in the Pittsburgh area on Feb. 22, a spokesman said on Tuesday. PNC will shutter the branch at 236 Fifth St. in Freeport, Armstrong County, and consolidate its business into the branch at 620 South Pike Road, about three miles away in Sarver, Butler County. PNC also will consolidate its branch at 291 Beverly Road, Mt. Lebanon, into the branch at 3149 Banksville Road, which is about three-quarters of a mile away in Banksville. The bank will remodel the Beverly Road branch and reopen as “a center for customer investment and retirement,” spokesman Fred Solomon said.

Other business news

• Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, has sold 40 million licenses for Windows 8, an updated version of its flagship operating system that can work with touch-screen technology. The newest Windows software has outpaced the previous version in terms of upgrades, Microsoft said on Tuesday but didn't comment on sales of the Surface tablet, Microsoft's first-ever computer.

• Apple says the smaller version of its new, slimmed-down iMac desktop computers will go on sale Friday. It also will start taking orders for the larger model, but the units won't ship until next month. The model with the 21.5-inch screen will cost $1,299 and up, depending on the configuration. The model with a 27-inch screen will start at $1,799.

• The 113-room Hampton Inn & Suites has opened at the Waterfront, at 301 W. Waterfront Drive, West Homestead. The hotel will be managed by Hospitality Ventures Management Group of Atlanta, its fourth hotel in the Pittsburgh area. The others are the Homewood Suites by Hilton at Southpointe, and at the Meadow Lands, both the Hampton Inn & Suites and the DoubleTree by Hilton.

• Gasoline prices declined slightly across Western Pennsylvania the week after Thanksgiving, AAA East Central said. The average price for regular gas was $3.615 a gallon on Tuesday, down 1.3 cents from last week's average of $3.628. Average prices ranged this week from a low of $3.495 in New Castle to a high of $3.659 in Bradford. The national average on Tuesday was $3.419, AAA said.

— Staff and wire reports

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