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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: September, 2011

POSTED: Thursday, September 8, 2011, 3:09 PM

City Council members Bill Green and Maria Quinones-Sanchez are trying again to reform Philadelphia's business-privilege tax, after their last attempt to shift from a mostly profits-based tax, to a mostly sales-based tax (cause that would be easier to collect, especially from out-of-town firms), was shot down by Mayor Nutter, elements of the Chamber of Commerce, and construction and hotel employers who realized their taxes would likely rise while retailers and other employers paid less if it passed.

Their new draft bill has two parts, the first left over from last time, the second looks new:

(1) "An exemption from the gross receipts and net income parts of the BPT for the first $100,000 of receipts of all businesses;"

POSTED: Thursday, September 8, 2011, 2:29 PM

DreamIt Ventures, the David Bookspan (Monetate)-Mike Levinson (PST Learning)- Steve Welch (Mitos)-founded "accelerator" firm for college techies and their infant software businesses turns five years old this year. After its hiatus in New York, it'll be back at University City Science Center's 3401 Market St. to give 15 candidate firms a shot at early-stage boostership.

"All 15 companies are given a whole series of services over the course of the fall, including free office space, mentorship, a speaker series, donated legal services, and a stipend of between $15-25K depending on their company size," DreamIt partner Kerry Rupp (of HolidayGolightly.com) tells me. "In return, we take 6% equity in the company.  At the end of the program, they do present at a Demo Day to investors and the media." The goal: "to launch them into the world and/or start the fundraising process if they intend to raise external money.

According to DreamIt, candidates include

POSTED: Thursday, September 8, 2011, 9:37 AM

American Realty Capital Properties Inc., a Jenkintown- and New York-based buyer of "single-tenant" commercial properties, and one of nine American Realty Capital affiliates that contain business properties assembled by former American Financial Realty Trust boss Nicholas Schorsch and veteran real estate financier William Kahane, has raised $69.75 million in an initial public offering, partly to repay the bosses and other investors (via stock grants, not cash).

American Realty's assets include 60 Citizens Bank branches in Michigan, South Carolina, New Hampshire, and points between, says spokesman Tony DeFazio. The company sold 5.58 million shares at $12.50 a share.

American Realty will pay an annual dividend of 7%, or 87.5 cents a share (in monthly installments) starting in October. The group's broker-dealer, Realty Capital Securities LLC, led the sale. American Realty employs 27 at its Jenkintown office, says DeFazio.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 7, 2011, 4:51 PM

Guardian Capital Parnters, Wayne, has bought a 60% interest in RIO Brands, brothers Warren, Mark and Ira Cohen's West Conshohocken-based aluminim beach-chair, beach-cart and patio-furniture maker, for an undisclosed sum.

RIO (corrected) says it employs 2,000 at its plant in China and at warehouses in Philadelphia and Atlanta.  

The company claims sales of over $100 million a year of its Tommy Bahama and other brand chairs, says Guardian partner Peter Haabestad. Guardian's Scott Evans led the deal. PNC Bank and Centerfield Capital, Indianapolis, financed it. Law firm Drinker Biddle did the paperwork.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 7, 2011, 3:11 PM

The U.S. Postal Service can delay its impending Sept. 30 financial default by diverting up to $82 billion it has "overpaid" into the Civil Service and Federal Employee retirement systems over the years, and using the money for retiree health-care payments, Sen. Tom Carper (D., Delaware) says.

Carper introduced a bill in May that would allow the Post Office to make the switch. Carper aides say postal labor unions support the change because it would prevent radical immediate service cuts.

Instead it's an accounting move: The Postal Service has systematically paid more into the federal pension fund than it was required to do, according to reviews by the US Office of Inspector General, the Postal Regulatory Commission, and private auditors Hay Group and Segal Group. Carper says this amounts to subsidizing other federal agencies that should be taxpayer-funded. The money isn't free, and may end up having to be replaced by future federal taxpayers.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 7, 2011, 2:24 PM

Foster Friess, the retired founder of the Greenville, Del.-based Brandywine mutual funds, and John Templeton, Main Line heir to his father's Templeton Funds fortune, are the Philly-area reps on the  Koch brothers' list of million-dollar donors to conservative politicians and their Tea Party allies, gold-mining heir Adam Hochschild's left-wing Mother Jones magazine reports  here.

Friess and I go back a little ways. He's an original, a denomination-hopping evangelical Christian whose stock-stalking analysts aggressively researched, not just glib CEOs, but also their suppliers, vendors and rivals, to make some canny stock picks in the bullish '90s.

Trained at the Brittingham family investment office, a pioneering growth-stock investment group owned by a timber-baron family who moved from Bob LaFollette's left-leaning Wisconsin to business-friendly Delaware at the du Pont family's invitation 80 years ago, Friess accepted a Brittingham college scholarship, then set up his own investment shop, poached Brittingham clients like the prestigious Nobel Prize fund, and prospered in the bull market of the 1980s and 90s.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 7, 2011, 1:13 PM

DuPont "has launched a process that provides for a fair resolution of claims for any impact DuPont Imprelis herbicide may have caused to trees," the Wilmington chemical maker says. More here at DuPont's official Imprelis damage-claim site. 

The company admitted in July that Eastern white pines and Norway spruce have turned brown and twisted at sites treated with Imprelis - including the company's own Wilmington country club -  after agricultural extension agents in Pennsyvlania and other states began reporting damage at nurseries, golf courses and yards sprayed with the concentrated "low mammalian toxicity" pesticide after DuPont rolled it out last winter.

Says DuPont: "Property owners with approved claims will be able to choose to replace or receive cash compensation for their evergreen trees that are unlikely to recover.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 7, 2011, 11:29 AM

Yardley-based Journal Register Co. boss John Paton will also take over the job of running the Denver-based MediaNews Group Inc. newspaper chain, through his new management company, Digital First Media, based in New York, both companies said this morning.

Journal Register and MediaNews are both controlled by New York investor Randall Smith's Alden Global Capital, which is also a major investor in Inquirer owner Philadelphia Media Network and other U.S. newspaper chains.

In a statement, MediaNews interim president Gordon Paris cited the "benefits of scale" for the combined companies.

Journal Register publishes the Delaware County Daily Times and other suburban dailies in Norristown, Pottstown, Trenton, West Chester and other markets. MediaNews publishes the Denver Post, San Jose Mercury News, Salt Lake Tribune, and York (Pa.) Dispatch and Daily Record, among other papers. 

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.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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