Business in brief

Food service workers to protest Aramark action

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June 20, 2008

More than 300 food service workers represented by Unite Here Local 26 plan to protest outside the Hynes Convention Center and the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center tomorrow through Monday to object to Aramark Corp.'s firing last year of two BCEC workers who were negotiating the union's contract, which expired in October. Aramark could not be reached late yesterday to comment. (Nicole C. Wong)

Boston Medical Center settles case with AG
Attorney General Martha Coakley reached a settlement with Boston Medical Center over allegations the hospital and its health plan improperly used confidential health information "to conduct deceptive marketing of its health plan." BMC will pay $562,000 to the state, most of which will go to MassHealth, the state Medicaid program. The unfair and deceptive marketing took place in November 2007. BMC allegedly sent letters to members of Network Health and Neighborhood Health Plan stating they had to switch to BMC's health plan to continue to get care at Boston Medical Center, according to the attorney general. (Jeffrey Krasner)

Mass., US unemployment rates increase in May
The Massachusetts unemployment rate jumped nearly a point in May to 4.9 percent, the state's Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported. Massachusetts employers added 1,400 payroll jobs. The jump from 4.1 percent in April reflects the volatility of monthly employment statistics, and viewing them over a longer period probably provides a better picture of state labor markets, said Elliot Winer, chief economist at the Department of Workforce Development. The US jobless rate also had an unusually large jump in May, to 5.5 percent from 5 percent. (Robert Gavin)

Alnylam to collaborate with Japanese company
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. signed its second collaborative deal in as many months. The Cambridge company will work with Japanese drug developer Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Co. to develop and market the experimental respiratory drug ALN-RSV01 in Asia. The deal, which will bring in about $15 million upfront and possibly $78 million in the future, comes on the heels of a collaboration potentially worth $1 billion with Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. (AP)

Sepracor experimental drug reduced epileptic seizures
Sepracor Inc., the maker of Lunesta sleeping pills, said its experimental epilepsy drug reduced seizures and improved quality of life for patients in a trial, boosting shares 89 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $20.56. Sepracor will use the data to seek US approval of the drug, called SEP-0002093, in late 2008 or early next year, the Marlborough company said. (Bloomberg)

Bank of America offer for Countrywide worth $1b less
Bank of America Corp.'s offer for Countrywide Financial Corp., the biggest US mortgage lender, has lost $1 billion, or one-quarter of its value since January, as the housing slump points to additional losses for lenders. After four months of falling share prices, Bank of America's stock swap is valued at $3 billion, compared with about $4 billion when the deal was disclosed Jan. 11. While investors would get stock valued at $5.13 a share, Countrywide trades for 6 percent less. Investors are being scared off by weak home prices and legal risks, said Abigail Hooper, managing director of merger arbitrage hedge fund Havens Advisors. (Bloomberg)

Apple's iTunes song sales top 5 billion in 5 years
Apple Inc., maker of the iPod media player, said its iTunes online store has sold more than 5 billion songs since its debut five years ago as more fans abandon record shops for the Web. The site is the most popular in the United States for legal music downloads, with more than 8 million songs. ITunes customers also are renting or buying more than 50,000 movies a day, Apple said. (Bloomberg)

FCC ruling expected to go against Verizon
The Federal Communications Commission is expected to rule that Verizon Communications Inc. violated privacy laws when it tried to keep phone customers from switching providers, a person at the agency who is familiar with the issue said. The ruling could come as early as today, according to this person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision was not yet public. The ruling would uphold a complaint brought by Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc., and privately owned Bright House Networks. (AP)

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