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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: August, 2011

POSTED: Wednesday, August 31, 2011, 4:22 PM

REVISED: The Big Five college men's and women's basketball league, in hopes of restoring its once-pioneering reputation for dramatic team rivalries at a time when cable TV contracts for larger leagues have made bigger state schools richer and better known, is negotiating a fall 2012 basketball tournament that would pit Philadelphia's storied teams against Fordham, Columbia, Manhattan, Iona and other New York schools, says Tom Muldoon, former 25-year head of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors' Bureau, who's heading up the effort.

Why pick on New York? "It's a great time for that," Brooklyn-bred Muldoon told me. "Who's better today, the Yanks, or the Phils? Who's better, the Eagles or the Giants? They both won more than 10 games. You've got these rivalries of quality. When it comes to sports, Philadelphia has noting to be embarrassed about. Athletic directors, businesspeople, everyone says this is a good idea."

Muldoon, who relentlessly advocated construction of the sprawling Pennsylvania Convention Center with state and city funds, spoke between visits to Philadelphia banks and corporate leaders he's hoping to line up as sponors, with marketing rights, to raise $250,000 for an expanded Big Five program next year. Big Five games were long scheduled as double-headers, attracting masses of fans, and Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the Wells Fargo Center, "would like to do that again," Muldoon says. "The Big Five is unique, nationally basketball fans know it's been going on sinde 1955. Let's make it mean something for students and for young alumni." 

POSTED: Wednesday, August 31, 2011, 4:07 PM
One of the few construction cranes currently poking above Philadelphia rises at 4109 Walnut St., where  Campus Apartments, which manages 32,000 student “beds” in private housing at colleges across the U.S., has put contractor L.F. Driscoll to work building the landlord’s first hotel, a 136-room Homewood Suites, to be run by Philadelphia-based Hersha Management.
Based just down the block from the hotel site and still a major landlord for students at the University of Pennsylvania, where it got its start, Campus Apartments turns 50 years old this year.
Founder Alan Horwitz is chairman; David J. Adelman, who grew up around the corner from Horwitz in Wynnefield, at the other edge of West Philly, is chief executive and a driving force in the company’s ongoing diversification, which includes a proposal for more than 100 apartments elsewhere on the hotel block.
The partners also plan two 20-story towers in the 4100 block of Chestnut St., whose owner, Graphic Arts Inc., recently relocated to Kensington after merging with Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Co.; with further proposals for properites north to Market Street. And they’re preparing to build a dorm for St. Joseph’s University on City Line Ave., which is also in expansion mode.
The company also manages Campus Technologies, which connects student buildings to Internet and video services for students, notorious bandwidth hogs.
Campus built 24 luxury condos (one sold for $1 million, a West Philly record) on the site of a former nursing home in the 4200 block of Pine St. The firm had plans to add office buildings to absorb rising rents for university and medical-related space in University City when the real estate financing market collapsed in 2007. Apartments are still relatively easy to finance thanks to Fannie Mae “multifamily” lending programs, Adelman told me.
A partner with FB Capital Partners boss Michael Foreman in the nascent Franklin Square investment fund group, Adelman says he’s trying to lure venture capitalists from West Conshohocken and the Main Line into University City, where the neighbors include Ira Lubert and his Independence funds group, which manage $12 billion for clients including Pennsylvania state pension funds from offices at Cira Center.

One of the few construction cranes currently poking above Philadelphia rises at 4109 Walnut St., where  Campus Apartments, which manages 32,000 student “beds” in private housing at colleges across the U.S., has put contractor L.F. Driscoll to work building the landlord’s first hotel, a 136-room Homewood Suites, to be run by Philadelphia-based Hersha Management.

Based just down the block from the hotel site and still a major landlord for students at the University of Pennsylvania, where it got its start, Campus Apartments turns 50 years old this year.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 31, 2011, 3:29 PM
 a Sprint/T-Mobile pairing would be equally unacceptable.  Sprint now 
regains a competitor (T-Mobile) forced to re-energize its competitiveness in Sprint's core middle market.  
Sprint also potentially loses support of the Cable MSOs, who have been rumored partners for Sprint's 4G 
strategy but who now may have a better option in T-Mobile USA.
 The collapse of the deal is also bad news for Verizon Wireless, albeit more moderately so than for Sprint.  
Verizon would have benefitted from a more rational industry structure just like everyone else.  And 
Verizon would likely also have been a potential beneficiary of spectrum and subscriber divestitures, 
potentially at bargain-basement prices.
 Perhaps the only real winners here are the Pay TV providers.  For Comcast and TWC, this significantly 
reduces the near term risk of a good-money-after-bad investment in Clearwire and/or Sprint. Moreover, 
Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile now re-emerges as a potential buyer of cable's unused AWS spectrum.  
 And perhaps the biggest winner of all is Dish Network.  Dish now has a much more credible potential 
partner for its nascent wireless strategy.  And that partner, T-Mobile, is backed by a deep pocketed (but 
tight fisted) parent and is in need of spectrum (Dish doesn't appear to want to spend its own money 
building a wireless network).
 All this suggests that, for Pay TV operators at least, T-Mobile is now (once again) the belle of the ball, 
and there could well be a race between Cable and Satellite to win her good graces

The US Department of Justice lawsuit to block the proposed AT&T-TMobile deal on antitrust grounds is bad news for wireless phone carriers like AT&T - and for rivals Verizon and Sprint, who had also hoped for more "rational" competition in their maturing industry - but good news for their rivals, the pay TV companies, writes Craig Moffett of Bernstein Research in a report to clients.

"For Comcast and TimeWarner Cable, this significantly reduces the near term risk" of their continued investment in high-end wireless carrier Clearwire, and makes it more likely one of them will join forces with Sprint, Moffett adds. The AT&T deal-killer also makes T-Mobile a more likely partner for Dish Network

POSTED: Wednesday, August 31, 2011, 2:14 PM

Philly Sports Clubs is offering free use of its three Philadelphia and three suburban locations "to all those affected by loss of power" from Hurricane Irene, through Sept. 15 (CORRECTED), spokeswoman Jenifer Biscuti says.

Powerless residents "18 and older with a valid photo ID" are invited to show up at Philly Sports Clubs "for a hot shower, to charge a cell phone, or simply to recharge their batteries with a stress-relieving workout," according to Biscuti. 

The clubs, an affiliate of Town Sports International, are in Ardmore, Chalfont (Highpoint Dr.), and Radnor, and at three sites in Center City. More here.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 31, 2011, 9:17 AM

The liberal Institute for Policy Studies has filed this report complaining that major US corporations - including General Electric, Boeing, eBay, Verizon, Chesapeake Energy, Mellon Bank of New York, International Paper, all of which have extensive operations in Pennsylvania - paid little or no federal corporate income tax last year, despite profitable operations, and multi-million-dollar payments to their chief executives and other top officers.

The Institute says this is unfair and shows business isn't paying its fair share, thanks to questionable but legal tax breaks, for example on foreign operations.

Yet corporate critics of the current US tax regime, including CEO Andy Liveris at Dow Chemical and tech analyst Andy Kessler, have pointed out that US corporate tax rates are actually among the highest in the world, and argued rates need to come down if we're to be competitive with Europe and Asia long-term.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 31, 2011, 9:06 AM

Sure, Pa. ranks with those populous U.S. states - New York, Texas, Ohio, Florida, California, Missouri - with multiple pro teams in multiple big cities.

But it's also tops for the number, popularity and revenues of teams in its minor-league markets, especially Harrisburg, which ranked #1 in the U.S. this year and last, and Reading, which ranks #4, writes SportsBusiness Journal here.

Harrisburg's most popular team is the baseball Senators, bought under dealmaking ex-Mayor Stephen Reed for $6.7 million in 1995, sold to Chicago investors led by Michael Reinsdorf in 2007 for $13.3 million.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 30, 2011, 4:04 PM

Pennsylvania, which already elects a state treasurer, and a state auditor, and a state governor whose budget office is supposed to project and track taxes, fees and spending, and almost the biggest legislature and staff of any state in the U.S., has hired its first independent fiscal office director to help the General Assembly distinguish reality from wishful thinking in state income and spending.

Matthew J. Knittel, a Ph.D. economist who analyzes corporate tax proposals for the U.S. Treasury Department, will be paid $130,000 a year (less than private-sector corporate counterparts) to direct the new $1.9 million Independent Fiscal Office, which is supposed to follow the Congressional Budget Office in Washington by providing honest data instead of the wild partisan claims that underlie so much Harrisburg legislation and the annual summer Budget Wars. PA is one of just four states with similar legislative fiscal offices.

"We should base the budget on objective data-driven numbers," says Senate leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware)'s aide Erik Arneson. "The historical practice in Pennsylvania with govenrors of both parties has been to come up with a budget and configure, within a certain range, the revenue estimates to make it meet what that year's budget objectives are. Having an independent agency come out with estimates in May and mid-June is going to be a very different dynamic. We are very optimistic."

POSTED: Tuesday, August 30, 2011, 3:37 PM

Insight Pharmaceuticals, Langhorne, says it's acquired rights to Monistat brand-name vaginal anti-fungus medication and Uristat urinary-pain treatment from Johnson & Johnson's troubled McNeil-PPS division in Fort Washington, for an undisclosed sum. More on Insight here and here.

Insight, which already controls E.P.T. pregnancy tests, Sucrets cough drops, and other old name-brand medicines that no longer enjoy copyright protection, calls Monistat "the #1 doctor-recommended treatment" almost since it debuted in 1974. Insight boss Gary Downing, a former Rhone-Poulenc-Rorer executive, called women's products "a key part of our growth strategy" and announced a re-launch for Uristat.

Insight is owned by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan of Canada and Swander Pace Capital. 

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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