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Roundup: BNY Mellon raises dividend; Highmark ratings downgraded; more

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

BNY Mellon raises dividend

Bank of New York Mellon Corp.'s board raised the bank's quarterly common stock dividend by 15 percent on Tuesday, to 15 cents a share from 13 cents, following the bank's annual shareholders meeting in New York. BNY Mellon will pay out the dividend on May 7 to holders of record April 29. The bank had indicated last month that it would consider a dividend increase after it had passed “stress tests” by federal regulators. The Federal Reserve evaluated the nation's 18 largest banks — including BNY Mellon and PNC Financial Services Group, which also passed — to see how well they could withstand another financial crisis like the so-called “Great Recession” in 2008-09. The banks had to pass those tests before they could return more capital to shareholders. BNY Mellon previously said it would start buying back up to $1.35 billion of its stock by first-quarter 2014.

Quarter of old Sony plant leased

DNP IMS America Corp. expanded production in the former Sony plant near New Stanton, adding 26,000 square feet of space to 161,000 square feet it already uses in the 2.8 million-square-foot building. The expansion will mean the addition of 15 employees, most of whom have already joined 150 other employees, said Rick Crooks, DNP vice president of operations. The expansion will mean nearly one-quarter of the plant has been leased to new tenants by the Regional Industrial Development Corp. of Southwestern Pennsylvania in partnership with the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Commission.

A.M. Best downgrades Highmark

A.M. Best Co. said it downgraded the financial strength, credit and debt ratings of health insurer Highmark Inc. on the expectation that its profit will drop after acquiring West Penn Allegheny Health System. Oldwick, N.J.-based A.M. Best, which specializes in rating insurance companies, said Highmark may have difficulty quickly returning West Penn Allegheny to profitability. Highmark is waiting for state approval to complete the acquisition. Highmark's ratings were each dropped one notch. A.M. Best still considers Highmark's financial strength to be “excellent.”

KPMG resigns Herbalife, Skechers

Accounting firm KPMG resigned as the auditor for Herbalife, a dietary supplements maker, and the shoe retailer Skechers after a rogue partner allegedly leaked information about the companies to someone who used it for insider trading. KPMG said it has fired the partner and had no reason to believe there were any problems with the financial reports of the two companies. KPMG did withdraw its recent audit reports on both companies because it felt its independence had been compromised. KPMG didn't reveal the partner's identity. It announced the dismissal in a statement late Monday. Herbalife and Skechers made announcements on Tuesday confirming that they were they companies involved. Skechers said KPMG told it that the ex-partner provided the inside information in exchange for money and is under federal investigation. An SEC spokesman in Washington declined to comment.

Austin next for ultra-fast Google

Google Inc. picked tech-savvy Austin on Tuesday as the next city where the search giant will wire homes with ultra-fast Internet connections, but did not say how much customers will pay or when the fiber-optic experiment might expand elsewhere in the United States. Austin and Kansas City are the only places to get Google Fiber — a broadband service 100 times faster than the competition and an alternative to cable or satellite TV providers. Pittsburgh previously competed for the Internet system.

Other business news

• Dickie McCamey & Chilcote P.C., one of Pittsburgh's largest law firms, has opened an office in downtown Cleveland, the firm's 11th office in six states. The Cleveland office is staffed with three attorneys with extensive experience in litigation to serve clients across Ohio in product liability, construction, health care, insurance and other areas of law, said the firm. Dickie McCamey employs 150 attorneys, including about 100 in Pittsburgh.

• S&T Bancorp Inc. Chief Executive Todd Brice received total compensation worth $1.2 million in 2012, a 9 percent increase over his $1.1 million pay package the year earlier, said proxy materials. His base salary increased to $525,000 from $475,000, and the value of his pension increased to $481,200 from $400,900. The bank corporation will hold its annual shareholders meeting on May 20 at 10 a.m. at the S&T Training and Support Center at 355 North Fifth St., Indiana, Pa. Based in Indiana, S&T has 26 branches in Western Pennsylvania.

• Innovation Works is accepting proposals for $800,000 in the latest funding cycle of the statewide Technology Commercialization Initiative. The maximum individual project award is $100,000. Initial draft proposals are due May 24, and final versions are due July 26. Based in South Oakland, Innovation Works invests in early-stage technology companies.

• Downtown advertising agency Brunner said it was named creative agency for humanitarian organization CARE after a three-month competitive review. CARE, which combats global poverty, began the search in November 2012 to find an agency to help it refresh its brand.

• NoWait Inc. said its mobile service that alerts restaurant patrons when their seats are ready has been used to seat more than 10 million people. The 3-year-old company, based in Uptown, said the number of restaurant guests seated using its system has grown 300 percent, to a million diners a month, since August 2012.

— Staff and wire reports

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