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Business roundup: American plans to hire 1,500 pilots; Giant Eagle to educate consumers about health care law; more

| Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

PPG Industries Inc. said on Monday it plans to build its first manufacturing plant in Russia, investing $60 million in its coatings businesses. The Pittsburgh-based paint and specialty products manufacturer expects the project in Lipetsk to be complete in the second half of 2015. The plant is expected to employ more than 150 people and make a variety of industrial and performance coatings. PPG has sales and administrative offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and an automotive refinishing training center in Moscow. In addition to a manufacturing plant, the facility will include a warehouse and distribution center, administrative offices and technical labs. PPG has manufacturing facilities and equity affiliates in more than 60 countries.

American Airlines to hire 1,500 pilots

American Airlines says it will hire 1,500 new pilots in the next five years and offer jobs to the remaining pilots who are still furloughed. American said on Monday that it would begin posting the new jobs this week and hire 45 to 50 pilots per month through next summer. It has already started hiring 1,500 flight attendants. Parent AMR Corp. is trying to merge with US Airways Group Inc. and leave bankruptcy protection. The merger is being held up by an antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S.Department of Justice. A trial is set to begin on Nov. 25.

AMR CEO Tom Horton said in a letter to employees that the company was preparing for the trial but would “remain open to discussions with the Justice Department regarding a settlement on appropriate terms.” Airlines have resumed hiring pilots in part because a large number are turning 65, the new mandatory retirement age. It was raised from 60 age 60 about five years ago. Also, new federal rules on crew rest could lead to a need for more pilots. American is hiring flight attendants partly to replace employees who took severance payments to leave last year. Also Monday, AMR said in a filing with the bankruptcy court that it earned $71 million in August, a reversal from a loss of $82 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 7 percent to $2.34 billion. Horton said that AMR could make a profit-sharing payment to employees next March — it would be the first in several years.

Giant Eagle to offer info on health care law

Western Pennsylvania's largest grocery store chain is the latest retailer to say it will help educate consumers about the Affordable Care Act, as the law's six-month open enrollment period for uninsured people begins on Tuesday. Giant Eagle Inc. said it will host meetings in 20 of its stores during the next three months at which customers can get answers about the law from Highmark Health Services agents. O'Hara-based Giant Eagle joins national drug store chains CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid in private efforts to help people who don't have health coverage understand what the law means to them. Starting on Jan. 1, most working Americans who don't have health insurance through an employer will be required to buy coverage or pay a tax penalty. Numerous polls have shown that a majority of Americans are not aware of the mandate or aren't sure if it applies to them.

In Pennsylvania, uninsured people can shop for health plans at www.healthcare.gov. Depending on household income, some people could qualify for federal tax credits to reduce the cost of insurance. A list of Giant Eagle meeting dates, times and locations can be found online at http://bit.ly/GzyDXC.

FDA approves Mylan antifungal generic

Mylan Inc. received Food and Drug Administration approval for a generic antifungal drug and will have six months of exclusive sales. Mylan's copy of Vfend, which is made by Pfizer Inc., was the first to be approved by the FDA, the Cecil-based company said. Vfend had sales in the United States of about $17.1 million for the 12 months ended June 30. Meanwhile, Mylan said that it has been sued by the makers of fibromyalgia drug Savella. Mylan said it was the first company to ask the FDA for approval of its copy of Savella, which is made by Forest Laboratories. If approved, Mylan would have 180 days of exclusive sales of its generic version. Savella had about $123 million in sales nationally for the 12 months ended June 30.

Other business news

• Former Pittsburgh Steeler star Jerome Bettis will open his first Papa John's Restaurant in Brentwood on Thursday.

Bettis will appear at the restaurant on Saw Mill Run Boulevard to take part in the opening festivities. Bettis purchased his Papa John's restaurant through a partnership with Bajco Group, headed by Nadeem Bajwa, which owns 12 restaurants in the Pittsburgh area. The partnership plans to open more restaurants in this region over the next couple of years.

• Washington Health Care Services Inc., the parent of Washington Hospital and a physicians group in Washington County, reported net income of $12.9 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, up from $738,000 the year before. The substantial increase in profit was a result of slightly higher patient revenue, lower expenses and improved investment income, according to financial statements made public for investors in Washington Health's municipal bond debt. Washington Health's patient revenue was $252.7 million for the year, up from $250.3 million the year before. Expenses were $265.4 million, down from $269.3 million. Investment income and other non-operating gains were $9.5 million, compared with a loss of $2.3 million the year before.

• An Arlington, Va., tech company partially owned by UPMC Health Plan has raised $100 million from investors. The health insurance arm of Pittsburgh hospital giant UPMC said Evolent Health will use the money to expand sales nationwide and hire employees. Evolent Health, which UPMC Health Plan and the Advisory Board Co. formed in 2011, provides technology and management services for health systems. Along with the two founding companies, San Francisco-based private equity firm TPG Growth contributed to Evolent's $100 million fundraising round.

• Highmark Health Services, the health insurance arm of Higharmk Inc., said it has reached a new multiyear reimbursement contract with Butler Health System. Terms of the contract, which give Highmark subscribers in-network access to Butler Memorial hospital and Butler Health physicians, were not disclosed.

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