Zimmer Holdings shares were up more than 14% after it announced Thursday that it would acquire orthopedic products company Biomet in a deal valued at $13.35 billion. Pictured: Overall Thursday morning trading at the New York Stock Exchange.

Zimmer Holdings to buy orthopedic firm Biomet for $13.35 billion

Orthopedic products maker Zimmer Holdings on Thursday announced it will acquire Biomet Inc. in a deal valued at $13.35 billion, including assumption of debt, the companies said.   

The proposed acquisition follows a flurry of billion-dollar deals by pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

This week Swiss multinational company Novartis AG, maker of Excedrin, announced a restructuring of its businesses with GlaxoSmithKline that included the sale of GSK's oncology products to Novartis for $14.5 billion. Activist investor Bill Ackman and Canadian firm Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. on Tuesday unveiled details of their $45-billion bid for Irvine pharmaceutical company Allergan Inc., which makes the popular Botox wrinkle treatment.

The acquisition of Biomet is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015. The two companies reported revenues that combined totaled $7.8 billion in 2013. The consolidated company is projected to have cost savings of $270 million by the third...

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Juicy profits in the stock market have helped the wealthiest Americans become even wealthier.

Rich getting richer: Gap between 1% and 99% deepens

The wealthy are getting even wealthier – in part because they’re so wealthy to start with.

That’s the upshot of new research, which shows that the richest 1% of Americans derive huge profits from capital gains, stock dividends and other types of business- or investment-related gains.

In other words, rich people are making a lot of money on their money.

Anyone, of course, can benefit from stock-related gains. But the rich have benefited a lot more, in part because they have higher incomes that enable them to invest more.

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The divergence is likely to exacerbate income inequality in coming years, according to the analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.

The analysis found that the share of “income from wealth” going to the top 1% surged to 54% in 2010 from 33.5% in 1979. It was based on data from the Congressional Budget Office.

In 1979, the bottom 90% had 36.2%, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The 9%...

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Postal workers plan more protests Thursday at more than 50 Staples locations in 27 states to oppose a partnership between the office supply company and the U.S. Postal Service to operate retail counters at the retailer's stores. Above, a protest in Atlanta last month.

Postal workers union to protest Staples-USPS partnership in 27 states

Members of the American Postal Workers Union are launching protests Thursday in 27 states to decry a partnership between the U.S. Postal Service and office supply company Staples Inc. to run postal counters at its retail stores. 

The agreement between the Postal Service and Staples, announced in November, created a pilot program to operate 82 postal counters at Staples locations across the country. The quick-service counters will be staffed by Staples employees. 

Organizers plan to demonstrate at a Staples location in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, one of four protests planned in California. Of the 83, locations, 32 are in California; none are in Los Angeles.

The postal workers union leadership have criticized the program, saying it will pave the way for privatization of post office jobs, a charge Postal Service officials deny. 

It is "taking away good, stable jobs and replacing them with low-wage, high-turnover jobs," Mike Evans, the union's California president, said in a...

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Fixed mortgage rates rose a bit this week but are still a bargain by historical standards. Above, a home for sale in Los Angeles.

Freddie Mac: mortgage rates edge higher, 30-year averaging 4.33%

Fixed mortgage rates edged higher this week, with Freddie Mac reporting that lenders were offering 30-year loans to solid borrowers at an average of 4.33%, up from 4.27% a week ago. The average for a 15-year fixed loan rose from 3.33% to 3.39%, the McLean, Va.-based home finance company said Thursday .   Start rates for variable-rate loans were unchanged.   Helped by stimulus measures from the Federal Reserve, the 30-year rate dropped below 3.5% in late 2012, but as recovery set in it rose back above 4.5% by the middle of last year. It has spent most of 2014 below that level, making mortgage borrowing quite a bargain by historical standards. QUIZ: How much do you know about mortgage rates? Most fixed mortgages are packaged up to back bonds that are sold to investors with payment guarantees from Freddie Mac and other government-controlled entities. These so-called agency bonds are regarded as nearly as safe as securities issued by the federal government, and fixed mortgage rates tend to...

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Homes are staying on the market longer in Southern California this spring. Here, prospective buyers tour a house in Highland Park.

Homes selling slower in Southern California. A sign of stability?

In another sign that the hot Southland housing market is throttling down, homes here are staying on the market longer lately.

The share of houses that have been listed for sale for at least two months climbed in the Los Angeles, Orange County, Inland Empire and Ventura regions of Southern California compared with a year ago, according to an analysis by real estate website Trulia.

Thanks to perennially tight supply, Southern California housing markets are still pretty “fast” by historic standards, notes Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko. More than half of all homes in Los Angeles and Orange Counties sold in less than two months -- among the 10 highest rates in the country.

But compared with last year, when prices were significantly lower and the supply of homes for sale was even tighter, the market has slowed a bit. The share of homes on the market for two months in Los Angeles climbed to 44% from 40 a year ago, to 45% from 38% in Orange County and to 53% from 49% in...

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TSA's PreCheck program enables fliers who voluntarily offer background information access to a faster screening line.

Only half of Americans say TSA screening makes flying safer

Americans are split on whether airport screening lines make air travel safer.

But at the same time, a majority of American adults worry that faster screening lines for travelers who submit background information might jeopardize airline safety.

The latest measure of the public's attitute on airport security came from a poll of 2,234 adults in the U.S. by the Harris Poll.

It comes only days after a teenage boy slipped undetected onto a Maui-bound jet at Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Half of those who took the poll said the security screening procedures by the Transportation Security Administration make air travel safer. That rate rises to 57% among those who have taken more than five trips in the last year, according to the poll.

Best airlines, worst airlines: JetBlue tops survey as scores slide

But Americans have mixed opinions about TSA's PreCheck program, which enables travelers who submit background information to the government to go through special screening lines without...

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McDonald's gives Ronald McDonald a makeover.

Ronald McDonald gets new outfit, takes on Twitter. Still creepy?

Same clown, new clothes: Is that the main takeaway of McDonald’s newest makeover of its brand ambassador Ronald McDonald?

On Wednesday, the Oak Brook, Ill., fast-food giant unveiled a new look for the redheaded clown and announced he'd be featured on McDonald's social media accounts.

Gone are the lumpy yellow jumpsuit and Where’s Waldo-esque sleeves. In its place is something a Weasley twin might wear -- mustard cargo pants and a red-and-white striped rugby shirt. For “special occasions,” there’s a bow tie and a red blazer festooned with golden arches and Ron’s signature.

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He still wears gloves. He still clops around in giant red shoes. His substantial hair is still blazingly loud. It might be a bit sleeker, though.

Is he still creepy? Just ask yourself if you’d let him date your daughter.

But if clothes make the man, this one at least has some showbiz pedigree. The character’s new duds were...

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A woman who sued the TSA over carrying breast milk onto a plane has won a settlement.

Woman who sued TSA over breast milk wins settlement

A South Bay woman who sued the Transportation Security Administration over the way agents treated her for trying to bring breast milk on a plane said she won a settlement.

The woman, Stacey Armato, said the TSA agreed to pay her $75,000 to settle the suit, as well as retraining all screeners to better treat travelers carrying breast milk.

"That's a big deal," she said in an interview. "I expect a lot of changes."

TSA officials declined to comment, saying the settlement has not been finalized and the agency still has 30 days to request a dismissal.

The suit is based on two incidents that happened in early 2010 when Armato tried to bring containers of breast milk on flights from Phoenix to Los Angeles. She is an attorney who flew regularly between the two cities.

She said she was harassed in the first incident when she asked that TSA agents not put the milk through an X-ray scanner. During the second incident, she produced a copy of the TSA rules to show screeners that the milk should...

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Service Employees International Union members and supporters demonstrate against  wage theft by employers in a downtown Sacramento office building housing the California Chamber of Commerce.

Union demands passage of wage-theft bill

SACRAMENTO -- Nearly 100 chanting and placard-waving union members marched to a downtown Sacramento office tower in a staged and futile attempt to serve a $240 million bill on the California Chamber of Commerce.

The "invoice," union officials said, represented the amount of unpaid wages awarded by the state labor commissioner's office to workers that went uncollected from 2008 to 2011.

The Service Employees International Union is sponsoring a bill aimed at preventing so-called wage theft. It's scheduled for a first hearing and vote Wednesday in the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment. The bill, AB 2415 by Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley), would allow an employee under some circumstances to record and enforce a lien on an employer's real and personal property for unpaid wages.

"Under current law, even when employees can prove that their employer denied them compensation for their work, frequently they do not receive their wages," Stone told a boisterous crowd of purple-...

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Steven Sugarman, chief executive of Banc of California, left, with former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, an advisor to the bank.

Banc of California gets 20 Popular Community branches, Latino presence

Banc of California in Irvine is acquiring Popular Community Bank's 20 Southern California offices, part of a deal in which Popular Inc., Puerto Rico's largest bank, is shedding 41 mainland U.S. branches.

The companies said Wednesday that Banc of California would pay $5.4 million for the local franchise, more than doubling its current network of 18 branches.

The deal includes $1.1 billion in deposits and $1.1 billion in loans from eastern and southern Los Angeles County and northern Orange County. Layoffs are expected to be minimal because the branch networks don't overlap, said Banc of California Chief Executive Steven Sugarman.

GRAPHIC: Southern California's housing recovery

Banc of California is one of several large community banks that are rapidly expanding in the Southland with a focus on small businesses, but with a twist -- the deal will make it a presence in areas with large Latino communities where Popular operated.

The Irvine bank announced in July that it had hired former Los...

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IRS workers got $1.1 million in bonuses despite owing back taxes

WASHINGTON -- The IRS paid a total of about $1.1 million in bonuses over about two years to more than 1,100 employees who had been disciplined for failing to pay their own taxes, according to an inspector general's report.

Those employees also received awards of more than 10,000 hours of extra time off and 69 faster-than-normal pay grade increases. They were among more than 2,800 IRS employees during that period who got performance awards within one year of disciplinary action, such as suspensions or written reprimands, the report found.

This is bad news for the Internal Revenue Service's image, "which already has taken some very serious hits over the past couple of years,” said Pete Sepp, executive vice president of National Taxpayers Union.

PHOTOS: 10 most expensive cities in the world

The Treasury's inspector general for tax administration noted that the performance awards did not violate the law.

But he said that “providing awards to employees who have been disciplined...

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Bill Ackman

Allergan adopts 'poison pill' defense in Valeant takeover bid

Allergan Inc., the Irvine company that makes Botox, has adopted a "poison pill" defense that could make it more difficult for Canadian company Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. and activist investor Bill Ackman to force through a takeover bid.

The company's "stockholder rights plan" would allow existing shareholders to buy Allergan stock at a steep discount if any single investor acquires more than 10% of its shares.

The move prevents Ackman, who disclosed earlier this week that he had acquired 9.7% of Allergan's shares, from significantly increasing his holding.

Allergan, which announced the decision late Tuesday, said the program would be in place for one year.

Valeant, based in Laval, Quebec, and Ackman, chief executive of Pershing Square Capital Management, offered $46 billion in cash and stock for Allergan on Tuesday. They said combining the two companies would "create an unrivaled platform for growth and value creation in healthcare.”

The companies had combined...

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