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Judge keeps US Airways injunction in force

| Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003

U.S. District Judge Robert Cindrich ruled Friday to keep the injuction that stops US Airways from sending heavy maintenance work for the airline's Airbus jets to Alabama. However, Cindrich modified his original order, issued Monday, to allow the airline to do the check-up on the two jets already flown to the contractor, Singapore Technologies (ST) Mobile Aerospace Engineering Inc. in Mobile, Ala. The International Association of Machinists Local 1976, Pittsburgh, which represents 5,000 US Airways mechanics, including 2,000 at Pittsburgh International Airport had sought the injunction. About 2,500 union mechanics are on layoff. US Airways' lawyers argued Thursday that the injunction would only result in grounded planes and canceled flights during the holiday season.

Loan may help deal

A $750,000 loan from Allegheny County's Economic Development Department may enable Advanced Technology Systems Inc., based in O'Hara, to acquire U.S. Filter's Municipal Engineering Division (formerly Chester Engineers). "No final agreement has been reached although negotiations are advancing," said Scott Edwards, vice president of U.S. Filter. He added the loan is a positive step towards the acquisition. A sale price was not disclosed. The purchase would enable ATS to become the largest African-American-owned municipal engineering firm in the nation, providing waste water treatment-related services, officials said. Once the sale is completed, ATS will have 160 employees in the county, with 100 additional jobs expected over the next five years. The sale involves Chester's Moon and Huntington, W.Va., offices.

Steel firm gets offer

Steelmaker Republic Engineered Products, which earlier this month filed for bankruptcy protection, has received a buyout offer of more than $225 million from an arm of the private investment firm Perry Capital. Republic, based near Akron, Ohio, which has 2,350 workers, is reviewing the offer from Perry Strategic Capital but would like to get court approval by December and complete the sale by the end of the year, spokesman John Willoughby said Friday. The company has asked for an initial hearing next week on the bid, Willoughby said. The company operates plants in Canton, Lorain and Massillon, Ohio; Lackawanna, N.Y.; and Gary, Ind.

Mistrial declared

A federal judge declared a mistrial Friday in the obstruction of justice trial of Frank Quattrone, one of the nation's leading technology bankers during the Internet stock craze. The decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Owen came after jurors reported they were deadlocked on all three charges against the former financial star -- two counts of obstruction and one count of witness tampering. The government earlier indicated that a retrial was likely. However, Michael Kulstad, spokesman for federal prosecutors, said no decision has been made.

Alcoa expects settlements

Alcoa Inc. expects to receive "significant" insurance settlements this quarter. The potential settlements relate to a lawsuit against about 100 insurance companies over coverage for environmental property damage, Pittsburgh-based Alcoa said in a regulatory filing. The company didn't specify the size of the potential settlements. Alcoa is expected to have profit of 33 cents a share in the fourth quarter, according to the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. Alcoa initiated the lawsuit in 1992 over insurance claims on damage at its facilities between 1956 and 1985.

Three mines to close

Massey Energy Co., the fourth-largest U.S. coal producer, said it plans to shut down three mines in West Virginia that produce coal used by the metal industry and will double output of coal used to generate steam for power plants. The shutdowns will cut output of metallurgical coal by 800,000 tons, Chief Executive Donald Blankenship told investors and analysts during a conference call. Richmond, Va.-based Massey will increase production of steam coal to 1.6 million tons by mining thicker coal seams, Blankenship said. Massey, which supplies coal to U.S. Steel Corp. and American Electric Power Co., said yesterday its loss widened three-fold to $3.8 million in the third quarter from the year-earlier period as sales fell and costs rose.

Russians to buy Rouge

A Russian steelmaker is coming to the rescue of Rouge Steel Co., once part of Henry Ford's one-stop car-building operation and lately one of America's many endangered steel producers. Officials with Rouge Steel and the United Auto Workers union said the planned acquisition by Severstal offered the best chance to keep Rouge afloat and its 2,600 employees on the job. "From our perspective, the Russians offer the most comprehensive package for our members," said Jerry Sullivan, president of UAW Local 600, which represents 2,000 hourly employees.

Other business news

  • Pennsylvania American Water completed the acquisition of the Connoquenessing Borough Authority water system in Butler County for $1.2 million.

    The system supplies more than 1,500 people and Pennsylvania American Chief Executive Officer Robert M. Ross said the changeover would be seamless. The company has purchased four other water systems in Butler County -- Summit Township, Center Township, Butler Township and TOW Associates Industrial Park -- over the last 10 years.

  • Pittsburgh Brewing Co. said it has changed the labels on its two most popular products -- Iron City and IC Light beer. Instead of the glued-on paper labels, the bottles will sport clear pressure-sealed labels, utilizing new label machines. Paper labels will remain on Augustiner brand lager and dark bottles, but could be changed to the new labels at a future date.

  • Pittsburgh-area stocks rose on Friday. The Bloomberg Pittsburgh Index 67 stocks gained 0.04 to 189.37.

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