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Top News Links: Wednesday, Dec. 26

BP settlement plan finalized

U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier has given final approval to an open-ended settlement, estimated at $7.8 billion, for individual and business claims against BP for damages caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill; related legal action still pending. — Claims Journal

Regions under federal review

The Wall Street Journal reports that federal agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the FBI, the Alabama Banking Commission and the prosecutor responsible for Trouble Asset Relief Program funds, are investigating Regions loan practices. — Wall Street Journal

Blue Cross suits to be heard in Birmingham

A group of lawsuits contending that Blue Cross and Blue Shield violates anti-trust laws, seven filed in Alabama plus two filed in Tennessee and North Carolina, have been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge David Proctor in Birmingham. — al.com 

Consumer confidence drops

After hitting a five-year high in November, consumer confidence dropped nearly ten points to 72.9, which economists blame on uncertainty over federal tax policies. — Montgomery Advertiser

ST Aerospace to acquire Volant Aerospace

ST Aerospace, with aircraft maintenance facilities at Mobile's Brookley Aeroplex, has finalized plans for its Vision Technologies Aerospace to acquire Volant Aerospace LLC, expanding the Asian company's business into cabin engineering and maintenance. — Aviation Pros

Update in progress at Hotel Capstone

Tuscaloosa's Hotel Capstone is in the midst of a $1.65 million update, modernizing everything from guest room bath facilities to the ground floor bistro. — Tuscaloosa News

Kudzu fuel makes "bizarre" list

Tuscaloosa-based Inventure Renewable's plan to turn kudzu into biofuel made the Biofuels Digest list of the ten most bizarre biofuel stories of the year; investors, however, have provided $12 million to fuel the company. — Biofuels Digest, Inventure

Met coal exports down, thermal up at Port

As global demand for metallurgical coal has decreased, the Port of Mobile has handled more thermal coal and expects to triple its thermal exports during the current fiscal year. — Platts 

Mando expands Georgia facility

Auto supplier Mando Corp., which has facilities in Opelika, has announced plans for a major expansion of its Georgia casting facility in Hogansville, near the Alabama line. — Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

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