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Medtronic busy acquiring St. Jude competitor, responding to allegations; also: Delta-NWA stockholders OK merger

Medtronic hopes to melt away some of St. Jude Medical’s share of the atrial fibrillation market. The Fridley-based company is spending $400 million to acquire a Canadian device maker named CryoCath. Its flagship product, Arctic Front, competes with St. Jude devices to treat a heart arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation. A tube, or catheter, is inserted through an incision into the patient’s beating heart. The tip contains a tool that can be used to freeze and destroy tissue that’s causing the irregular heart rhythms.

Medtronic is also defending itself against newly public allegations by a former employee. The Wall Street Journal obtained a copy of sealed court documents that describe a culture of improper gifts and payments to doctors, including strip-club visits, trips to Alaska and improper royalty payments. Medtronic said in a statement that the claims come from a lawsuit that was settled in 2006, and that the behaviors described in the article are inconsistent with its ethical standards.

As expected, Delta and Northwest stockholders on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a merger. More than 98 percent of the quarter-million Northwest share votes supported the merger agreement. In a statement, Northwest said it still expects the Justice Department to approve the deal by the end of the year, and that it’s “well down the path of integration planning to create the world’s premier global airline.”

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