Archive: July, 2008
Joseph N. DiStefano
Assurant Inc., a New York specialty insurer, has agreed to pay $250 million for Signal Holdings LLC, a Wayne-based purveyor of wireless handset repair and insurance. Sellers are brothers Tom and Steve Cloetingh, who founded Signal in 1984, and Trident II, an investment fund managed by StonePoint Capital, Greenwich, Conn., which invested in Signal in 2002.
Signal employs 150 at its headquarters and call center, plus 330 at a handset repair facility in York. Finance, benefits and other headquarters functions will likely be combined with Assurant over time, but "our objective is to grow this business," said Assurant spokesman James Sykes.
The two companies have worked closely together since 2000, when Assurant began underwriting Signal's insurance policies. "We're putting together a service plan" that will be easier to sell than insurance policies, since they won't need agents to sell them, said Sykes.
UPDATE: The Cloetinghs grew up in Cherry Hill, then moved to the Main Line, where Tom went to Lower Merion High School (later George Washington U and a Drexel MBA), and Steve to Episcopal Academy (then Gettysburg College). Inquirer story here.
Joseph N. DiStefanoSAP Americas, Newtown Square, has hired Yoh Talent Solutions, a division of privately-held Day & Zimmerman, Philadelphia, to run its outsourcing HR. "We'll manage all the contract labor they use in the U.S. and Canada for professional-level people," said Yoh Talent president Don Hanson.
How big a deal is this? The companies won't say how many people, or how much money.
SAP joins AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals in Wilmington and PJM Internconnection in King of Prussia as Yoh clients for the service.
“They have a technology platform, Yoh Exchange,” that matches contractors with jobs within the company, “and they showed us they could come in here and significantly improve our perfromance,” said Joel Capperella, senior director of business development at SAP.
“This is really a procurement issue, but it’s different from buying reams of paper,” Capperella added. Well, sure -- it’s about people.
Joseph N. DiStefanoOracle Corp., Redwood City, Calif., has agreed to buy Global Knowledge Software LLC, a King of Prussia division of Cary, N.C.-based Global Knowledge Inc.
Global Knowledge makes self-training and business-process software, and has partnered with Oracle for years, Global Knowledge president Kevin C. Riley told customers in a letter. Oracle won't say what it's paying. Release here.
Oracle plans to combine Global Knowledge Software, Oracle Tutor, and Oracle's iLearning into a single package for business clients.
Back in May, Oracle agreed to buy Chester-based AdminServ. That announcement here.
Joseph N. DiStefano
One of the pros working on Brandywine Realty Trust's Cira South project tells us they're expecting a formal announcement and political brag-fest in early August to confirm that BlackRock Inc. will indeed move 1,200 investment workers from temporary quarters in an old Merrill Lynch complex in Plainsboro, N.J., to Brandywine's proposed tower adjoining Penn's campus, thanks to state and city tax breaks.
BlackRock is expected to lease more than 500,000 square feet, with an option for another 100,000, in a building that will total around 750,000 square feet -- not as big as the Liberty Place towers, but in that league.
For a company that's earning $90 million a month (Financial Times story here), plain-vanilla investment manager BlackRock sure gets a lot of tax breaks: As reported by PhillyDeals earlier this month, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink says he'll double its Wilmington, Delaware, workforce to 600, now that Gov. Ruth Ann Minner has signed a law limiting investment company taxes. Release here. -- New Jersey's failed effort to save BlackRock in Newark Star-Ledger story here.
Brandywine traded higher this morning on a stronger 2q earnings report, despite flat revenues. Report here.
Joseph N. DiStefanoBuy, borrow, or file in bankruptcy court? The Reading retailer weighs tough choices, says Womens Wear Daily in an unsourced story here. UPDATE: Inquirer story here.
Joseph N. DiStefano
Brandywine Realty Trust CEO Gerard Sweeney in his quarterly investor conference call today:
"BlackRock is looking for a new location to house between 1,000 and 1,500 employees, which would translate to between 500,000 and 600,000 square feet...That prcess is progressing pretty quickly...
"Blackrock, who is a current tenant at Cira One, identified Cira as a short-list location...The recent extension of the (Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone tax) benefits through 2025 put Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in a very competitive position.
"We are in discussions with BlackRock, but this is clearly a type of climate that both parties are mindful of the need for solid economics in the deal, a clearly-identified financial structure, and flexibility against any future near-term cost fluctuations.
"So all these issues are really front and center in our discussions with BlackRock. In the meantime I think BlackRock continues to fully review their different locational alternatives. And I do think the situation will clarify in the next quarter or two."
Joseph N. DiStefano
The Public Broadcasting Authority that runs TV channels 23, 52, and other public news and arts programming in New Jersey will have to cut 70 of 150 jobs due to state budget cuts, executive director Elizabeth Christopherson told staff in an email yesterday.
"If layoffs do occur, the effective date will be on or about December 1," she wrote, adding her board feels "great regret" at the cuts.
The threatened layoffs follow a controversial proposal by the authority to move the state-owned stations into an independent community foundation. The union representing state TV employees, CWA Local 1032, is fighting the plan because it would likely mean watering down the news, says union organizer Dudley Burdge
The state TV budget is being cut to $15 million from $19 million as part of Gov. Corzine's attempts to cut costs, said Stephanie Hoopes-Halpin, a political economist who serves on the public TV commission. The cuts fall disprortionately on the stations' "talented" staff and "excellent" programming because power and operating costs can't be cut, she said. The stations already get more money from private than public sources, but Hoopes-Halpin said an independent foundation could raise money more easily.
She said the authority hopes to avoid the cuts. "There's a lot of work going on behind the scenes and privately" to raise funds from government and private sources.
Joseph N. DiStefano
Lubert-Adler, the Philadelphia real estate partnership run by Ira Lubert and Dean Adler, is among the owners of California-based Mervyn's department stores, which filed for bankruptcy protection today.
Bloomberg bankruptcy story here. Lubert-Adler describes its Mervyn's investment here.
Lubert-Adler Real Estate Fund IV joined Cerebrus Capital Partners, Sun Capital Partners, and Klaff Realty to buy Mervyn's from Target for $1.65 billion four years ago; they have resold dozens of the stores as the chain downsized.
Pennsylvania's state pension funds are among Lubert-Adler's biggest investors. At the end of last year, Lubert-Adler had around $250 million invested for the Public School Employees' Retirement System, and another $60 million with the State Employees' Retirement System.
The partnership has a diverse commercial property portfolio and says it has done deals worth over $15 billion in the past decade. In retail, Lubert-Adler has also bought stores from Service Merchandise, Kmart and Levitz, among other chains; it's a potential investor in Reading-based Boscov's, now searching for funds.
Ira Lubert referred questions to partner Adler, who was traveling today and unavailable for comment, his office said.
UPDATE 8/6: With Boscov's bankrupt, maybe it's Greg Segal's Lubert-backed Versa investment fund (formerly Chrysalis), which invests in distressed companies, that'll be looking at Boscov's.
Whether they're looking at Boscov or not, we know Versa won't say anything unless or until there's a deal.