Archive: September, 2009
Some TD Bank customers have complained to my consumer-writer colleague Jeff Gelles that they haven't been able to read their account balances in real time since last week, when the company was supposed to finish converting systems between TD and its local predecessor, the former Commerce Bank of Cherry Hill.
TD came clean right away: "This started over the weekend," spokeswoman Rebecca Acevedo told me. "They're seeing what their balances were as of the previous evening." Like an earlier computer era, when companies batched, transactions and they showed up in your account next day. "But people can tranact normally. They can buy a cup of coffee. They can withdraw funds."
How long will this last? "We're working on it now. We hope to have it under control in the next few hours." How many of TD's 6.5 million customers are affected? "Not all of them. My account is fine."
I stopped up at Dietz & Watson's cold-cuts manufacturing plant on Tacony St. yesterday and asked immigrant sausage-maker Gottlieb Dietz's grandchildren, who run the $300 million yearly-sales company, a real soft question: Why are they giving away sandwiches at City Hall's Dilworth Plaza, tomorrow, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.?
"We had one in Charlotte," N.C., at the Epicenter mall, "and we had a great response," chief executive Louis Eni told me. "We figured it was about time to do it here," to show appreciation for Philadelphians who've bought Dietz & Watson meats for 70 years.
Eni walked me around the chilly factory, through high block rooms fragrant with cloves, cinnamon and pepper, noisy with compressed-air and conveyor-belt machinery, busy with dozens of union crews in hard hats and white coats, hair nets and boots, cutting, stuffing, packing, loading, cleaning. D&W buys meat and spices, and builds them into hundreds of lines of roast beefs, hams, chickens, sausages, and hot dogs by the three-pound box.
"The Greater Philadelphia office market plunged" as tenants pulled out of a net 1.96 million square feet of office space in the three months ending today, more than double the Spring new-vacancy rate, business tenant rep GVA Smith Mack reports today. Total vacancies at 17.7%, from 15.9% in March, and 14.5% last year.
"More and more space has been vacated rather than leased, due to job losses and downsizing of companies," the firm wrote. "These stats trail what's happening in the market," founding partner Jeff Mack told me.
How much space went empty in July, August, September? Add up everything across the region, it's as if the Comcast and Cira towers sent everybody home. Or One Liberty and the Independence Blue Cross building.
Bank of American chief executive Kenneth Lewis says he's stepping down as head of the nation's largest bank by the end of the year. No successor named yet. Announcement here.
Tumultuous year for troubled BofA, which has absorbed giant broker Merrill Lynch, giant home lender Countrywide Financial, and billions in federal government investments. Consumer banking head Liam McGee left in August, leaving fast-rising former general counsel Brian Moynihan in charge of that half of the company, including BofA's troubled Wilmington-based credit card lender (led by MBNA Corp. veteran Ric Struthers.)
Will Moynihan keep rising? The last bank we know where the g.c. ended up running the company was Citigroup, under Charles Prince, and that ended badly.
Penske Automotive Group says it's cancelled plans to take over General Motors Corp.'s Saturn division because it doesn't believe it'll be able to find parts. Announcement here. Bloomberg says that means GM will "wind down" Saturn because it couldn't get Renault, Samsung or anyone to take over production, story here.
Update: "...The report that Comcast has a deal to purchase NBC Universal is inaccurate," Comcast spokeswoman D'Arcy Foster-Rudnay tells Bloomberg here. Rudnay "declined to comment" on a report it's been in talks with NBC owner General Electric Corp.
Earlier: Philadelphia's Comcast "is in talks to buy the entertainment giant NBC-Universal from General Electric" for $35 billion, former New York Times reporter Sharon Waxman reports on her Web site, TheWrap.com, citing unnamed sources here.
Last night I posted how Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., joined Republicans and conservative Democrats voting down a "public option" insurance proposal in the Senate Finance Committee. But later he voted "yes" on a second proposal - which still didn't pass. I asked his office to explain that one. Carper's statement:
"While not perfect, I supported Sen. Schumer's 'level playing field public option' amendment because I believe it - or something similar to it - could help drive down insurance costs for consumers in a way that doesn't unfairly disadvantage insurance companies.
"Unlike other so-called public option proposals, Sen. Schumer's amendment seeks to ensure that any public health insurance plan remain independent, self-financed and self-sustaining. No one, not consumers nor providers, would be required to participate, and the government would not be able to negotiate prices based on Medicare rates, thereby better ensuring equal competition in the marketplace.
To talk about the troubled property markets: Villanova University's business school is hosting:
Dan DiLella, chief executive of office landlord BPG Properties; Brent Morris, of Capmark Investments; Joel Rassman, chief financial officer at homebuilder Toll Bros.; Richard Parkus of Deutsche Bank; Brian DiDonato of Sorin Capital Management; and UNC Prof. David Hartzell,
at Connelly Center's Villanova Room, 800 Lancaster Ave., 6 pm tomorrow, Thursday Oct. 1, says Shawn D. Howton, finance prof and director of the Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate.