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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: September, 2011

POSTED: Friday, September 30, 2011, 4:11 PM

The former home of Please Touch Museum, three buildings stretching from 200-212 N. 21st St. near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway museum district and totalling 70,000 square feet, has been sold to Isen Trust for use as an art gallery and store. Price not immediately disclosed.

Joe Muldoon and Chris Lange brokered the sale for Binswanger. The museum now rents a larger space in Fairmount Park.

POSTED: Friday, September 30, 2011, 3:25 PM

Ira Goldfarb and his wife Claudia Gutierrez run the 10-store Doggie Style pet-supply chain in Center City and nearby neighborhoods, and a warehouse to store and support low-price staples for the store, and a newly-opened Northern Liberties for-profit animal clinic they say supports their nonprofit Operation Ava dog-rescue shelter.

They're franchising the stores -- to California and Florida and points between (his son runs two in Maryland), Goldfarb says. They want to add more clinics, and more shelters.  And they're planning a 100-person factory to process their product, Prairie Dog Antlers (actually from deer, moose, elk) for use as "non-splintering" chew toys, which Gutierrez calls "one of our fastest-growing items." 

But they won't be franchising or building the factory around Philadelphia. "We've got offers from Texas and Colorado" and nearby Delaware and other states, Goldfarb says. Gutierrez, a native of Mexico who worked in road finance before moving here, is eager to expand elsewhere.

POSTED: Friday, September 30, 2011, 3:08 PM

From his newly-expanded office and warehouse center in the massive former Saturday Evening Post printing complex at Curtis Park in Sharon Hill, Jon Reichlin has built his dad's and uncle's old shoe-repair-products business into Penguin Brands Inc., a $40 million-plus (yearly sales) supplier of athletic accessories to Dick's, Footlocker, Modell's, Nike, Target and other big brands and retailers.

There's a province map of China on the wall to track its factories, and photos of Olympic athletes and Philadelphia running-club leaders, and a line of packers filling 16,000 boxes a day with bright water bottles and shoelaces and hydration packs and safety vests, from inventory off shelves on the first floor of the 220,000-sq-ft warehouse space.

There's construction workers finishing a new 15,000-sq-ft design center with sweing machines and treadmills and heart monitors and computer graphics, where athletes and testers can pound, stretch, bake and freeze safety vests and shoelaces and plastic and metal waterbottles.

POSTED: Friday, September 30, 2011, 12:59 PM

Lawyer Ken Trujillo, onetime Philadelphia City Solicitor and longtime partner in Trujillo Rodriguez and Richards LLC, won't say how much he paid for WHAT-AM Radio 1340, before he reopened it in August as Spanish-language (and online) music format "El Zol" with a "crossover" format that's not as driving-beat reggaeton-urban as rivals Mega AM 1310 or Rhumba 1480.

But Trujillo did tell me his personal investment firm, Aztec Capital, paid less than the $5 million that Eric Blum's Marconi Broadcasting paid for the station's previous sale, in 2006, near the height of the media price bubble.

Marconi ran 1340 as an oldies station, ending its many years as the African American radio redoubt of Mary Mason and Georgie Woods (the Man with the Goods.)

POSTED: Friday, September 30, 2011, 11:23 AM

The $26 billion Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement Service, after 20 years of bulking up on buyout funds, venture capital funds, real estate funds, commodities, hedge funds, and other non-tradeable investments, to the multi-million-dollar annual benefit of hundreds of high-fee contracted money managers, now faces $49 billion in future liabilities. Which means taxpayers will have to pay more to get all the checks paid.

SERS (which throughout this period has reporteds to a board of gubernatorial and legislative appointees headed by ex-State Rep. Nicholas Maiale) has replaced some of its top investment staff under new chief investment officer Anthony Clarkfired and replaced its consultants, trimmed its non-trading assets and raised the collective proportion of stocks and bonds so it can raise cash more quickly -- and may be looking to dump a larger part of its non-traded investments, reports PE Hub here, citing an earlier Fortune report.

Through all these changes, SERS has insisted there is no big shift in focus. "Revisiting contracts is a regular part of how we do business," SERS spokeswoman Pamela J. Hile told me in a note yesterday. The system is "maturing," with fewer workers paying 6.25% of their pensions to help support a fund that maintains a growing number of retirees (taxpayers make up the difference)

POSTED: Friday, September 30, 2011, 10:58 AM

(Adds company comment) Harleysville Mutual policyholders might not be getting their share in Nationwide's planned takeover of the 96-year-old Montgomery County-based insurer and its larger for-profit sister, Harleysville Group, writes David Schiff, retired publisher of Schiff's Interest Rate Observer in New York. Read my colleague Harold Brubaker's story and comments by Harleysville management here.

The deal values Harleysville at $1.6 billion, but Nationwide is only actually offering to spend half that much (around $800 million) on the shares of the for-profit part of the group. (Revised)

Harleysville "resents the suggestion," says Rob Kauffman, general counsel at Harleysville. "Our mutual is merging into Nationwide's mutual, so our mutual policyholders will become Nationwide mutual policyholders," moving from an A.M. Best-rated "A" to an "A+" rated company. "You don't have compensation when you do a mutual-to-mutual merger."

POSTED: Friday, September 30, 2011, 10:17 AM

Comcast Ventures, Philadelphia-based video giant Comcast Corp.'s investment unit, has set up Boston-based CTI Towers Inc. to "own, operate and develop communications towers throughout the United States," starting with around 800 towers "previously owned by Comcast Cable subsidiaries," the company says here.

CTI will lease space to wireless operators and other antenna-users, exploiting Comcast's "extensive footprint of urban and suburban towers," Comcast Ventures principal Dave Zilberman said in the statement. He named Anthony F. Peduto, a former executive at rival tower developer Optasite and at tower provider American Tower Corp., as CTI Towers' boss. 

POSTED: Friday, September 30, 2011, 9:56 AM

Vishay Intertechnology, the Malvern-based electronic semiconductor maker, says it's bought Huntington Electric Inc.'s Huntington, Milwaukee, Central, and Mills resistors plants for $19.6 million.  Vishay statement here.

The brands serve "high-power and high-current" and industrial power users, said executive chairman and chief business development officer Marc Zandman, son of Vishay founder the late Felix Zandman.

The deal fits with Vishay's "niche acquisitions" campaign to boost sales, said Vishay CEO Gerard Paul in the statement. 

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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