Real estate brokerages merge

Two of Greater Boston’s biggest real estate brokerages are teaming up. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said Wednesday that it has acquired Hammond Residential Real Estate Group of Chestnut Hill. The merger will give Coldwell a total of 99 offices in New England. Since its founding in 1991, Hammond has grown to include 16 offices in Massachusetts and ranked third in home sales volume in the Boston area last year. The company decided to join Coldwell to better use the company’s technology platform and broader resources, said cofounder Saul Cohen. Merit McIntyre, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in New England, will lead the combined company. He said he was glad to be bringing on board a firm with Hammond’s strong local reputation. — TIM LOGAN



Aegerion to cut 25 jobs

Cambridge biotech Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Wednesday it is reducing its global workforce by 13 percent, cutting about 25 jobs, as it prepares to withdraw from European markets its lipid-lowering drug lomitapide, which treats extremely high cholesterol. Both moves are part of a strategy to lower the cost base of Aegerion, which last month agreed to be acquired by QLT Inc. of Vancouver, British Columbia, in a deal that will create a new company backed with fresh capital from investors. When the cutback is completed, Aegerion will have about 190 employees, but the company wouldn’t say how many will be in Cambridge. — ROBERT WEISMAN


Pimco hires head of British hedge fund

The bond giant Pimco has hired Emmanuel Roman, chief executive of the British hedge fund manager Man Group, as its new top executive, as the California-based fund looks to turn around its fortunes. The announcement comes nearly two years after William H. Gross, Pimco’s cofounder — who is known as the “bond king” — was forced out and joined its rival, Janus Capital Group. The hiring of Roman, a former Goldman Sachs banker who joined Man in 2010, comes at a pivotal time for Pimco, which is owned by the German insurer Allianz. Pacific Investment Management Co., or Pimco, has seen hundreds of billions of dollars in client assets walk out the door since Gross’s departure, and it is facing a lawsuit by Gross accusing the company of wrongful termination and seeking $200 million in damages. Pimco has called the lawsuit “legally groundless” and is seeking its dismissal. — NEW YORK TIMES



FDA approves generic version of Crestor

The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that it had approved generic versions of the blockbuster cholesterol-lowering pill Crestor, rejecting a last-ditch and controversial effort by AstraZeneca to stop cheaper competition from reaching pharmacy shelves. The move should considerably decrease the price of the drug and result in a sharp loss of market share for AstraZeneca. The brand-name drug has a retail price around $260 a month, according to GoodRx.com. With multiple generics now coming onto the market, the price could eventually drop as much as 80 to 90 percent. AstraZeneca argued in a petition to the FDA and in a federal lawsuit that the agency could not legally approve any generics of Crestor because the drug had recently been approved to treat children with an extremely rare disease. It contended that the drug was in that way protected from competition, even for use in treating high cholesterol in adults, by the Orphan Drug Act, which encourages companies to develop drugs for rare diseases. The company’s tactic was criticized as an attempted abuse of the Orphan Drug Act, including by the FDA itself. On Tuesday, a federal judge denied AstraZeneca’s request for a temporary restraining order barring the FDA from approving the generics. And on Wednesday, the agency approved generics from eight manufacturers. — NEW YORK TIMES



Labor protections reduced in France

French workers lost some of their famed labor protections Wednesday, as the government tries to keep up with the global economy by weakening union powers and giving employers more freedom to fire people and lengthen their hours. It was a bitter victory for President Francois Hollande. The bill unleashed months of violent protests and tore apart his Socialist Party, and the government had to force it through Parliament without a vote. And conservative critics say it doesn’t go far enough and won’t make a difference. The bill formally maintains the 35-hour workweek, but allows companies to organize alternative schedules. The law also offers the ‘‘right to disconnect,’’ with companies of more than 50 people forced to negotiate a ‘‘charter of good conduct’’ detailing the hours, usually evenings and weekends, when employees will not be expected to be connected to their smartphones and laptops. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Shareholders approve Dow, DuPont merger

Shareholders of Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. approved the companies’ historic merger, clearing a hurdle for the deal to close this year and for a later split into three entities. Majorities of both sets of stockholders approved the 50-50 combination of the two largest US chemical makers, the companies said in a joint statement Wednesday. The $59 billion all-stock transaction, a record for the industry, was announced Dec. 11. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Billboard ad in New Mexico backfires

An Italian restaurant in New Mexico has come under fire for a billboard playing off the Black Lives Matter slogan amid nationwide outcry over the recent fatal shootings of black men by police officers. Paisano’s in Albuquerque posted ‘‘Black Olives Matter, Try Our Tapenade’’ on a marquee last week advertising one of its specials and reportedly posted a picture of the sign on social media. People on the restaurant’s Facebook page called it ‘‘offensive,’’ ‘‘tacky and hideous,’’ and ‘‘in very bad taste.’’ The restaurant has since taken down the sign and removed the photo of it from social media. Some Facebook users claim their comments have been taken down, too. — WASHINGTON POST


The high price of love

With the summer wedding season in full swing, the most important prop — a diamond ring — will cost you. A 1-carat diamond will cost the equivalent of eight weeks’ salary, or about $7,300, for the average American worker as of last month. But the ring is just the beginning: the average investment for a wedding in the United States is at a record high, nearing $30,000, according to a 2014 survey of 13,000 brides by TheKnot.com. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


L.L. Bean recalling children’s water bottles over lead concerns

L.L. Bean is recalling children’s insulated water bottles because of concerns about lead contamination. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the bottles were imported by GSI Outdoors and sold by L.L. Bean from July 2015 through May 2016 for about $20. The 13.5-ounce bottles have five prints: sharks, dinosaur bones, camouflage, flowers, and butterflies. The Maine-based retailer said it specified lead-free water bottles, but routine testing by the Chinese manufacturer revealed lead solder had been used to seal the bottoms of some of the bottles. A spokeswoman says L.L. Bean is instituting a voluntary recall. Consumers should stop using the water bottles and reach out to L.L. Bean to return the product for refunds. — ASSOCIATED PRESS