Saturday, November 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Tuesday, November 25, 2014, 5:46 PM
Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers, of Hartford, Conn., has agreed to pay Maurice Zekaria's Lakewood, N.J. (corrected) -based Paramount Realty Services $41.7 million to purchase the Village at Cambridge Crossing shopping center, at NJ 38 near I-295, on the border of Moorestown and Mount Laurel in wealthy western Burlington County, N.J. Broker CBRE's Philadelphia and New York offices cooperated on the deal, jointly representing both sides on the sale, said the Philly office's Brad Nathanson in a statement. The Village, located close to the Wegmans-anchored Centerton Square retail center, "is 100% leased" to tenants led by LA Fitness and also inclduing AAA Car Center, Ann Talor Loft, Charming Charlie, Chico’s, Ruby Tuesday, Verizon Wireless. Cornerstone last year bought Baederwood Shopping Center, Jenkintown, via CBRE, Nathanson noted.  
POSTED: Tuesday, November 25, 2014, 2:28 PM

Medgenics, a Wayne-based firm developing gene therapies in cooperation with Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia to treat kidney anemia and other blood problems using a patient's own tissue, says it has raised at least $21 million in a public stock offering, selling 5.125 million shares at $4.10/share, with additional shares available to Piper Jaffray & Co., JMP Securities and other brokers that led the sale.

The stock, listed on the New York Stock Exchange (MDGN) since 2011, has been thinly traded. The sale price was a fraction of the $15 Medgenics reached at its 2012 peak; discounts aren't unusual for biotech shares in this market, noted Brian Piper, vice president for finance, told me. The company employs about 7 in the U.S., 33 in an Israel lab, and plans to expand its Philadelphia-area clinical development group. Medgenics's largest shareholder, Isaac Blech, is based in New York. Chairman Sol Barer is also the founder and past CEO of North Jersey-based cancer-fighting therapy maker Celgene (CELG). 

The proceeds, which Medgenics expects to collect after Dec. 1, will be used to develop the company's TARGT gene therapy platform, including TARGTPRO for renal anemia and hematological conditions, TARGTGLP-2 for short-bowel syndrome, the firm's research and development collaboration with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and other clinical as well as corporate purposes. Medgenics is run by CEO Michael Cola and chief scientific officer Dr. Garry Neil. 

POSTED: Tuesday, November 25, 2014, 1:07 PM
(John Geliebter/USA Today Sports file photo)
The latest Philadelphian to buy into the Union professional soccer team is government-finance banker David Seltzer.The Union's announcement notes Seltzer's role as founder of Mercator Advisors, as a past bond adviser to the U.S. Department of Transportation, and current chairman of the city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works (which Seltzer has portrayed as chafing under inefficient city governance, amid the drive to sell it to private investors.) It's not in the Union release, but Seltzer's longtime wife is Lisa Roberts, daughter of Comcast founder Ralph Roberts, brother of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts (the Seltzers are also copatrons of the Philadelphia Museum of Art). The Roberts family is of course deeply involved in pro sports: it's the biggest reseller of ESPN and other sports video; the company controls the NHL Flyers as well as pro sports broadcasting and venues in Philadelphia and other big cities.UPDATE: Seltzer tells me this is his investment and in no way connected to the Robertses. -- The Union also reports, not the size of the Seltzer investment, but the fact that "David and his sons Jamie and Evan have a passion for business and sports." 
POSTED: Tuesday, November 25, 2014, 11:45 AM
The One and Olney shopping center. (Photo from costar.com)

Two New York-based landlords -- Lloyd Goldman's BLDG Management and Jeffrey Feil's Feil Organization -- have sold the 340,000 sq. ft. One and Olney Square shopping center, anchored by a Shop-Rite and featuring Dollar Tree, Modell's, Burger King and others, to Wharton Realty Group, owned by brothers Isaac and Mark Massry of Eatontown, N.J., for $52.5 million, according to broker JLL Capital Markets.

The urban center attracted "a tremendous amount of investor interest," says JLL evp Jim Galbally, who led the team that closed the sale. He says private, institutional and REIT investors are attracted to rowhouse neighborhoods with plenty of shoppers, and has expansion "potential." (See also why Bruce Schanzer of New York's Cedar Realty Trust loves Northeast and South Philly.) JLL says it expects to move $1 billion in Philly-area real estate for all of 2014.

POSTED: Monday, November 24, 2014, 4:50 PM

Robert F. Whalen took a long road home to the Main Line. The Malvern Prep and Annapolis grad served two tours as a Marine officer in Iraq, worked for developers in Texas and in the Marcellus Shale gas fracking zone, sold a property to Chesapeake Energy Corp., and used proceeds to start his own firm, RW Partners, in 2011. He moved home, got involved in local government, ended up chair of the Tredyffrin Planning Commission.

That's where Whalen learned the banks were foreclosing on the giant Blackstone hedge fund group's $10 million mortgage on the largely-vacant Chesterbrook retail center (once home to a Genuardi's, still housing a Rite-Aid, Citizens Bank, Diane's Sidewalk Cafe). "I found the bank that was selling the mortgage, I got the mortgage under control, and resigned from the planning commission that day," Whalen told me. He might have stayed on, recused himself, let other planners decide. He says he wanted to avoid any suggestion of conflict of interest.

Whalen went partners with Brian McElwee, of Valley Forge Investment Corp., which owns local hotels: Crowne Plaza (King of Prussia), Embassy Suites (Chesterbrook), Omni (Philadelphia), the Golden Inn (Avalon.) "We got the zoning changes soon after," he told me. "Because of my relationship with the township, I knew the township wanted to see the center improve from the eyesore it had been." Tredyffrin supervisors' chairman Mike Heaburg confirms he's glad to see Whalen moving on his plan.

POSTED: Monday, November 24, 2014, 1:37 PM

Descartes Systems Group, a logistics software company based in Waterloo, Canada, says it paid $29.7 million last week to acquire Trevose-based AirClic Inc., which automates bar-code reading and bill-paying for industrial shippers and other clients onto hand-held phones, using the cloud-based Perform platform.

"Descartes and AirClic have several common customers" who use both systems together, said Descartes CEO Edward J. Ryan in a statement. "We believe we can meet the growing demand for integrated routing and mobile fleet management solutions" and make Airclic as profitable as Descartes, he added. No immediate comment on Descartes' plans for the Airclic office and staff.

Besides Trevose, AirClic has operations in Owings Mills, Md. and Reading, England. AirClic's CEO at the time of sale was Michael B. Lee. Cofounder was Peter B. Ritz, a onetime Ikon Office Solutions executive whose later projects include cloud-software developer Xtium and the Keystone NAP data center rising at the former U.S. Steel site in Bucks County. 

POSTED: Monday, November 24, 2014, 1:18 PM

Shares of Lincoln National Corp., the Radnor-based insurance and investments company that owns naming rights for the Eagles stadium, are trading above $59 for the first time in six years, and Lincoln CEO Dennis Glass and his managers are "confident of their prospects" for yearly profit growth of 8-10%, Robert Glasspiegel, analyst at Janney Capital Markets in Philadelphia, tells clients in a report today.

Glasspiegel notes some concerns (in addition to interest-rate and stock-market risk): Lincoln has cut way back on its old policy of reinsuring its life insurance, and is holding a lot more of the risk on the books, Glasspiegel notes. He points out that Swiss Re and other European insurers have said they are worried customers are living longer than expected, so they are having to pay some annuities longer than expected. He's watching to see "if this is just a European insurer problem" or whether American firms like Lincoln will have to change their assumptions, too.

Glasspiegel also says Lincoln is investing more money (6%-12% of  its new investments) into high-yield junk bonds. He questions "if this is a good time to be re-risking in light of where yields, spreads and valuations are today."  

POSTED: Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:16 AM

"Certain broker dealers" -- the firm won't say which -- "have resumed sales of products distributed by Realty Capital Securities LLC," an affiliate of RCS Capital Corp., says the brokerage's CEO, Bill Dwyer, in this statement.

Investment News reported earlier this month that affiliates of AIG, LPL, Securities America Inc. and National Planning Holding Inc. were declining to handle some securities backed by RCS or other companies founded or controlled by Nicholas Schorsch, the Jenkintown scrap-recycling heir turned New York-based real estate mogul, after another company he chairs, American Realty Capital Partners Inc., announced it would have to restate earnings after two financial executives left the company for reporting inaccurate financial information. Dwyer said he expected the suspensions would prove "temporary." 

Shares of RCS rose 35 cents in morning trading, to $11.25, but remain near their historic low. The investment finance company stock peaked at $39.50 in April.

About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

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