Business Tidbits

Minimum Wage Gap Grows Wider Between States

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – With a bump in the Washington state minimum wage to $9.19 an hour on Tuesday, high school student Miranda Olson will edge closer to her goal of purchasing that black Volkswagen Beetle she’s been researching online.

Olson is only able to pick up part-time hours, working after classes and on weekends. But the extra money she’ll earn in 2013 will add up over the coming weeks and months.

Many workers around the country won’t be as lucky as the ones in Washington state, which is raising its salary minimum even though it already has the highest state baseline in the country. Workers one state over — in Idaho — will make nearly $2 per hour less in 2013.

FDA Approves 1st New Tuberculosis Drug in 40 Years

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved a Johnson & Johnson tuberculosis drug that is the first new medicine to fight the deadly infection in more than four decades.

The agency approved J&J’s pill, Sirturo, for use with older drugs to fight a hard-to-treat strain of tuberculosis that has not responded to other medications. However, the agency cautioned that the drug carries risks of potentially deadly heart problems and should be prescribed carefully by doctors.

Roughly one-third of the world’s population is estimated to be infected with tuberculosis bacteria. The disease is rare in the U.S., but kills about 1.4 million people a year worldwide. Of those, about 150,000 succumb to increasingly common drug-resistant forms of the disease. About 60 percent of all cases are concentrated in China, India, Russia and Eastern Europe.

Tribune Leaves Bankruptcy After 4 Years

CHICAGO (AP) – Tribune Co. emerged from a Chapter 11 restructuring Monday, more than four years after the media company sought bankruptcy protection.

The reorganized company is starting with a new board of directors and new ownership that includes senior creditors Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo, Gordon and Co., and JPMorgan Chase and Co.

Tribune closed on a new, $1.1 billion senior secured term loan and a $300 million revolving credit line. The loan will fund payments required under the reorganization plan, and the credit line will fund ongoing operations.

LodgeNet Filing for Bankruptcy Protection

NEW YORK (AP) – LodgeNet Investment Corp. said Monday that it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and will be acquired by investment firm Colony Capital.

LodgeNet provides video, internet and advertising services to the lodging and health care sectors. The company said that it will continue to operate during the expedited bankruptcy process. When that is complete, Colony will own LodgeNet.

LodgeNet says a Colony Capital affiliate will provide it with $60 million in new capital, and that funding will be used to support recapitalization of the company. It also received commitments for up to $15 million in debt financing from creditors. LodgeNet, based in Sioux Falls, S.D., said its lenders will extend their credit agreements. The company said it has a secured credit facility worth about $346 million.

Greece’s Former Finance Minister Faces Prosecution

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s coalition government called on Monday for the indictment of former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou for allegedly removing the names of three of his relatives from a list of Swiss bank account holders whose tax records were to be re-examined.

Seventy-one deputies from the three-party coalition signed the proposal to indict Papaconstantinou for allegedly tampering with a public document and breach of duty — offenses that carry a maximum 10-year jail term, according to legal experts.

Papaconstantinou, 51, served as finance minister between 2009 and 2011 in the previous Socialist government.