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Roundup: Critz joins energy consultant EIS Solutions; Sinclair agrees to buy WJAC-TV and WTOV-TV; more

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Critz joins energy consultant EIS Solutions

Former Congressman Mark Critz, a Democrat from Johnstown, was named a senior vice president of EIS Solutions, said the Colorado-based company. The consulting firm specializes in grass-roots advocacy and public affairs related to energy and land use. Critz, who lost his re-election bid in November, was a top-ranking Democrat on the House Energy Agriculture and Trade subcommittee and co-chaired the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Caucus. He will work in Johnstown for EIS, which has an office in Pittsburgh.

Sinclair to buy WJAC and WTOV

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. has agreed to acquire television stations WJAC-TV in Johnstown and WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio, both NBC affiliates, plus three other TV stations for $99 million from Cox Media Group. Cox is the owner of WPXI-11. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter. Since mid-2011, Sinclair has purchased 30 TV stations in mid-sized markets. Locally, the company owns WPGH-53 and WPMY-22. Including the five stations under sales agreement, Sinclair will own and operate 90 TV stations in 49 markets.

Macy's profit beats expectations

Macy's reported a fourth-quarter profit that beat Wall Street expectations as its strategy of tailoring merchandise to local markets paid off during the holiday season. The department store chain, which also operates the upscale Bloomingdale's stores, said Tuesday that it expects that same game plan to help increase revenue at stores open at least a year by 3.5 percent in fiscal 2013. That's on top of the increase of 3.7 percent for 2012. The measure is a key indicator of health because it strips out the impact of newly opened and closed locations. For the period ended Feb. 2, Macy's Inc. said it earned $730 million, or $1.83 per share. That compares with $745 million, or $1.74 per share, a year earlier, when the company had more shares outstanding. Revenue was $9.35 billion, up from $8.72 billion a year ago.

Bailed-out firms' high pay debated

Government officials argued Tuesday over whether pay is still too high for top executives at bailed-out companies like AIG, General Motors and Ally Financial. In a hearing before the House's oversight committee, Christy Romero, who runs the group meant to be a watchdog over the government's financial crisis-era bailout, argued that pay is too high. Taxpayers, she said, are depending on the government “to put a lid on” pay at companies “whose missteps nearly crippled the U.S. financial system.” But, she said, “AIG, Ally, and GM executives continue to rake in Treasury-approved multimillion-dollar pay packages.” Patricia Geoghegan, the Treasury official who approved the executive pay at those companies, argued that the compensation was reasonable. Geoghegan, the government's pay czar, said she had to allow the companies to pay enough to attract the talent they need. That way they can finish paying back their bailout loans.

EQT CEO earned $8.71M in 2012

Natural gas producer EQT Corp. said its chief executive, David L. Porges, earned $8.71 million in total compensation in 2012, up 17 percent from the year before. Other top-earning executives were Philip Conti, senior vice president and chief financial officer, at $2.85 million and Randall L. Crawford, senior vice president, at $3.72 million, according to a securities filing. EQT has scheduled its annual stockholders' meeting for 9:30 a.m. April 17 at its Downtown headquarters; last year's meeting was disrupted by several dozen protesters.

U.S. 4Q bank earnings up 37%

Profits of banks jumped almost 37 percent from October through December, reaching the highest level in six years as banks continued to step up lending. The figures are fresh evidence of the banking industry's sustained recovery more than four years after the financial crisis. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported Tuesday that banks earned $34.7 billion in the quarter, the highest since the fourth quarter of 2006. The agency also says banks posted reduced losses on loans in the fourth quarter and set aside almost 25 percent less to cover potential losses than in the final quarter of 2011. Loans increased 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter. The number of banks on the FDIC's “problem” list fell to 651 from 694. For all of 2012, bank earnings rose 19.3 percent to $141.3 billion, the second-highest annual level ever.

JPMorgan to trim 4,000 jobs,

JPMorgan is trimming about 4,000 jobs, becoming the latest big bank to shrink its workforce. The bank says the cuts will be focused in consumer banking and mortgages. A bank spokeswoman stressed that many of the cuts would come through attrition, but the bank will lay off workers as well. The cuts amount to about 1.5 percent of JPMorgan's workforce and are part of the bank's bigger cost-cutting campaign. They were revealed in a presentation to investors Tuesday morning. The reductions will take place in the year after the bank increased both profit and revenue. And the move could signal a new direction in jobs: JPMorgan already shed about 1,200 jobs in 2012, after adding jobs in 2011 and 2010.

Reed Smith opens office in Houston

Reed Smith has opened a law office in Houston with 12 partners from seven leading firms in Texas, mostly in order to focus on energy issues, said the Pittsburgh-based firm. Half the attorneys there are assigned to energy, which will complement the firm's Marcellus shale practice, which is based in Pittsburgh. The rest of the Houston lawyers will concentrate on commercial litigation, life sciences and health, labor and employment, the financial industry and intellectual property. The Houston office is the firm's first in Texas, 14th in the United States and 25th in the world. Reed Smith employs more than 1,700 attorneys.

— Staff and wire report

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