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J&J to pay $21.3 billion for medical device company

GENEVA (AP) -- Health products giant Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday it will buy U.S.-Swiss medical device maker Synthes Inc. for $21.3 billion, greatly increasing its share of the market for surgical trauma equipment and orthopedic implants.

In its largest deal ever, the New Jersey-based company will offer 159 Swiss francs in cash and stock for each Synthes share. That is a 22 percent premium on the share price April 14, the day before reports first claimed Synthes was considering a takeover.

Synthes is based in West Chester, Pa., but has its global headquarters in Solothurn, Switzerland. Last year it had global sales of $3.69 billion, including $2.15 billion in North America.

J&J said Synthes would complement its own DePuy orthopedics portfolio in catering to what it called "significant market trends."

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Jobless rate falls in big cities

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The unemployment rate fell last month in more than 80 percent of the nation's largest metro areas, adding to evidence that the recent pickup in hiring is widespread.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate fell in 303 of the nation's 372 largest cities, compared with 287 that reported a drop the previous month and the best showing since September. The rate rose in 43 cities and was unchanged in 26.

Nationwide, the rate dipped to a two-year low of 8.8 percent and has dropped a full percentage point since November. Businesses added a net total of more than 200,000 jobs in February and March, the fastest two-month hiring spree in five years.

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BP to resume drilling in gulf

LONDON (AP) -- BP expects to be back drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, where a rig explosion last year killed 11 men and caused the biggest offshore oil leak in U.S. history, in the second half of this year.

In comments following an earnings report, in which the company said net profits rose 16 percent in the first quarter, BP PLC officials said Wednesday that the company has applied for permits to restart drilling in the gulf.

The costs of the spill pushed BP to sell numerous assets, which boosted net profits in the first quarter to $7.2 billion.

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Delaware North cuts ties

After 20 months, Delaware North Cos. is severing ties with the former ocean liner Queen Mary, now a California hotel and museum.

The Buffalo-based hospitality company also announced the purchase of an Illinois hotel and casino.

Delaware North will stop managing the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif., after a 30-day transition period.

"Since taking over in September 2009, Delaware North has helped achieve its goals of rebanding the attraction with targeted marketing, renovation of the ship's staterooms, as well as some of the restaurants and meeting spaces," the company said in a news release. "These have resulted in increased occupancy and higher revenue in lodging, food and beverage, retail and attractions."

The company also just completed the acquisition of a Rock Island, Ill., casino for $180 million. It began operating the 205-room Jumer's Casino & Hotel on Wednesday.

"We are very proud to add such a highly regarded property as Jumer's Casino & Hotel to our growing port-

folio of U.S. gaming operations," William Bissett, president of Delaware North Cos. Gaming & Entertainment, said in a release.

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Hospital workers OK pact

DUNKIRK -- Workers at Brooks Memorial Hospital have approved a new contract, to take effect May 1.

Over its three-year life, the agreement guarantees wage increases of

6.5 percent to 9.5 percent depending on years of service. It also requires a boost in pension contributions.

The contract covers about 215 licensed practical nurses; medical technicians; and clerical, service and maintenance workers represented by 1199 Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers East.

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