Saturday, December 27, 2014

Archive: December, 2010

POSTED: Wednesday, December 29, 2010, 11:05 AM

"Donald Trump, the real estate developer turned TV personality, is betting his name will boost the value of his golf courses even as the premium for the brand declines on condo properties and ratings slide on his show, 'The Apprentice,'" says Bloomberg here.

"Trump has acquired nine golf properties in the U.S., including four since 2008, after mostly steering clear of using his own money to buy real estate since 2005," including $3.7 million for the former Pine Hill course in South Jersey last year. Trump is also building a billion-dollar golf resort in Scotland.

"Trump is expanding his golf holdings as the number of private clubs in the U.S. fell to 4,256 this year, down 3.4 percent from 2008, according to the National Golf Foundation." The recession has shut clubs in South Jersey (Woodbury) and Wilmington (Hercules), among other places..

"Trump says that putting his name on the courses increases membership sales and the fees he can charge.(But) the Trump name hasn’t prevented the failure of real estate developments in Florida and Mexico, nor has it helped his New York condos sell for more than other apartments in the city," Bloomberg concludes.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 29, 2010, 10:31 AM

The latest owners of Franklin Mint, the (formerly Wawa-, now Exton-based) "collectibles" company that once employs thousands, are charging fraud against the previous owners who sold them the company for a $16 million investment last year.

JSSI Capital Enterprises LLC, Miami, blames its losses on "false" financial statements in the sellers' "wholly fabricated" business plan that overstated sales by more than half, "grossly" exaggerated its past advertising and the quality of its computer systems, and also exaggerated Franklin Mint's relationships with TV shopping channel QVC of West Chester, motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson, Publisher's Clearing House and other clients, according to a New York State lawsuit. See the complaint here.

JSSI Capital Enterprises LLC bought Franklin Mint and the affiliated Morgan Mint last year. Bloomberg reports JSSI's suit against sellers Moshe Malamud, Sam Malamud and Steven Sisskind seeks "more than $12.6 million in damages, the rescission of $4 million in promissory notes assumed in the deal and the return of $1.975 million paid to two defendants." Case is Franklin Mint LLC v. Franklin Mint Inc., New York Supreme Court (NYC) 652386-2010

POSTED: Thursday, December 23, 2010, 11:50 AM

One of Philadelphia's biggest pension plans is coping with the big investment losses of the past few years by trimming benefits and diverting money toward retirement instead of wages and healthcare - while still leaving room for more speculative local investments.

The Carpenters Pension & Annuity Fund of Philadelphia and Vicinity's $1.4 billlion investment portfolio took an 11 percent hit in fiscal 2008 when the stock market collapsed.

It recovered some of the lost ground in the past year as the market recovered. Still, the system, which insures retirement pay for 5,300 pensioners, 7,700 working carpenters (many idled by the recession), and more than 2,000 retirees who are slated to collect pensions in the future, reported in April it had just 53 cents set aside last year for every $1 it's going to need.

To cut that accounting deficit and cope with tough times, the plan this year cut pension accrual rates, decreasing pensions for future retirees; tightened rules for disability benefits; and lengthened the minimum service for early retirement, to 25 years, from 20 years, among other changes.

POSTED: Thursday, December 23, 2010, 10:32 AM

So far, it's been a hostile romance. But "ultimately, Community Health Systems will acquire Tenet Healthcare Corp.," paying more or less the same $3.3 billion, or $7 a share, that it offered, and Tenet rejected, earlier this month, predicts Gary Lieberman, stock analyst for Wells Fargo Securities in New York, in a report to clients  yesterday.

A prominent Philadelphian has a role on each side of this potential deal: 

Drexel University President John Fry has been a director of Nashville-based Community Health since 2004, when he was president of Lancaster's Franklin and Marshall College.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 22, 2010, 12:32 PM

Pennslvania's elected auditor general, Jack Wagner, plans a "special performance audit" of the state Liquor Control Board’s wine kiosks at 30 supermarkets around the state, "which malfunctioned and were shut down Tuesday night until early next year."

Wagner said in a statement he'll check the kiosks for "convenience and additional revenue," which "the Liquor Control Board touted when it awarded a contract to Simple Brands LLC of Conshohocken," the only company that bid on PLCB's 2008 request for proposals, which featured what Wagner called "vague specifications."

“The kiosks’ breakdown during the height of the holiday shopping season has left customers high and dry, and we want to know why,” Wagner said.

Gov.-elect Tom Corbett, a Republican, wants to privatize the State Stores to raise money for the cash-strapped Pennsylvania treasury. Simple Brands is owned by William Weiner, head of the Deb Shoppes retail chain. Other investors include Ira Lubert, whose $12 billion Independence Capital group invests around $1 billion in state pension funds; and former Rendell political fundraiser Herb Vederman. Earlier item here.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 22, 2010, 11:37 AM

"The city, state and federal officials who represent Philadelphia should approach elected officials in New Jersey with a plan to redraw the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border so that Philadelphia becomes part of New Jersey," writes Drexel University professor Richardson Dilworth (namesake grandson of the reforming 1950s Philadelphia mayor) in the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy here (scroll to Publications).

After 318 years - why should Philadelphia switch?

For power, and money: As in-state neighbors "Philadelphia and Camden can be consolidated into a single city," easing Camden's dependence on its decrepit tax base and fat state subsidies (as my colleague Matt Katz shows here).

POSTED: Wednesday, December 22, 2010, 10:29 AM

Endo Pharmaceuticals, West Chester-based maker of Percocet, Percodan and other big-league painkillers, is trying to "protect a good portion of the franchise from generic competition for at least several more years" with a new version of opium-based (oxymorphone) Opana ER, "a harder pill that is very difficult to crush or dissolve" by drug abusers seeking to unlock the time-release and get a quick hit, writes Gary Nachman, drug analyst at Bala Cynwyd-based Susquehanna International Group LLP, in a report to clients today.

Drugmaker Purdue Pharma LP recently won a similar approval for a "hard-shell" and 
tamper-resistant" version of its often-abused OxyContin. Nachman says hard pills are more effective at baffling drug abusers than rival technologies relying on chemical additives, and that FDA has said further testing for the new Opana isn't needed.

Endo sold $240 million of Opana last year and expects prescriptions to grow to around $300 million this year and for the next couple of years until generics and newer rivals trim its sales.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 22, 2010, 6:10 PM

Main Line serial tech entrepeneur Bipin Shah, the architect of MAC debit cards back when he was CoreStates Bank's top techie, has filed with the SEC to raise $72 million for a new company, Universal Business Payment Solutions Acquisition Corp.

What's Shah planning to buy this time? 

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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