Sunday, February 7, 2016

POSTED: Friday, February 5, 2016, 4:11 PM
RevZilla Founders, Anthony Bucci (L), Matt Kull, and Nick Auger stand on the main floor of their office space located at 4020 S. 26th St., in Philadelphia, Pa., on Feb. 24, 2015. ((Jessie Fox / Philly.com))

"Motorcycle store chain Cycle Gear Inc. is close to acquiring RevZilla," the Navy Yard-based online motorcycle apparel and warehouse sales company, "in a deal that would create a company valued at between $400 million and $500 million, including debt," Reuters reports here, citing an unnamed source.

"The deal will help Benicia, California-based Cycle Gear, which has more than 100 stores in 34 states, expand its Internet footprint. Philadelphia-based RevZilla, which has $100 million in sales, is owned by three young motorcycle enthusiasts who founded the company as twentysomethings in 2007." Cycle Gear is owned by private equity investor JW Childs.

POSTED: Thursday, February 4, 2016, 11:26 AM

Marlton banker Vernon Hill's planned IPO of his Metro Bank Plc in London at the end of February would raise up to $875 million (600 million UK pounds), valuing the company's entire share base at nearly $3 billion, a rich valuation compared to other British banks, reports City A.M. here.  Metro had about $2.4 billion in loans and other assets at Sept. 30, Metro reported here.

The sale would pay up to $32 million to senior Metro Bank officers under an incentive plan, reports Sky News here. Despite its modest lending record and past start-up unprofitability, Hill has said his customer-friendly, branch-focused bank is worth more because it is growing faster, and because it lacks the bad-loan baggage of other British banks.

Past Metro backers have included Bruce Toll (of Philadelphia's home-building Toll Brothers, a developer, auto-dealer and coal-mine owner, and former Inquirer investor), along with investors Steven A. Cohen, Richard LeFrak and Ken Moelis.  

POSTED: Thursday, February 4, 2016, 11:04 AM
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. ((Photo from paauditor.gov))

UPDATE: Gov. Tom Wolf's office says he'll "work with" Auditor General Eugene DePasquale on ways to keep PERC's mission alive; stopped short of agreeing how that'll work. From his statement: “The review of municipal pension plans currently performed by PERC can be managed elsewhere... We appreciate the Auditor General’s offer. We will work with his office and others to ensure that review, necessary to the calculation of state aid payments to municipal pension plans, is performed with appropriate authority and in a timely fashion.”

EARLIER: Pennsylvania's elected Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale, this morning offered to take over work done by the independent Pennsylvania Public Employees' Retirement Commission, which Gov. Tom Wolf has defunded.

"I do not care what entity does the work of PERC; what I care about is that Pennsylvania municipalities do not have to scramble financially while Harrisburg figures this out," writes DePasquale. “My office is charged with dispersing more than $250 million in state pension aid to 2,600 municipalities each year.

POSTED: Thursday, February 4, 2016, 9:01 AM

Start-up veteran Bob Moul, past boss at Boomi, Philly Startup Leaders and Artisan Mobile, is the new CEO at Cloudamize, freeing founder Khushboo Shah to become "Chief Evangelist"' at the four-year-old firm, which helps clients evaluate, select and manage Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google's cloud, and other cloud computing services. Cofounder Stephan Bohacek is, as ever, CTO. 

"If you're not in the cloud, we help you plan, assess and manage" the migration, Moul told me. Moul was Shah's advisor when she brought her startup to a venture accelerator. The firm counts ESPN, Zynga, OfficeMax and Livingston as clients. Lead investors include MissionOG (George Krautzel and friends) and Gabriel (Richard Vague and company). 

Statement on Bob Moul joining Cloudamize here.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 4:15 PM
Gov. Wolf responds to a question at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in Harrisburg. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

THURS. UPDATE: Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says his agency can take over PERC's job reviewing municipal pension plans after Gov. Tom Wolf defunded the agency, calling its work "redundant" with that of pension plan auditors and other agencies. PERC exec. dir. Jim McAneny said the auditor's office is better suited than the pension agencies Wolf's office wanted to do the work. No immediate comment from Wolf's office.  Read more here.

LATE WED. UPDATE: Gov. Wolf's termination of PERC, Pennsylvania's independent state and local pension review agency, "is a mess. It makes me nervous," auditor general Eugene DePasquale told me. "If there's a better way to do this than PERC, we're all ears. But we can't just let this fall apart." He says he's been fielding calls from legislators in both parties concerned about Wolf's action, and hopes to have an alternate plan as early as tomorrow. "If this thing isn't fixed by late March we have a problem." See also GOP lawmakers' proposal for PERC, at UPDATE below.

EARLIER:  Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has cut off funding for the Public Employee Retirement Commission, effective Feb. 12. That's six weeks before biannual reports from the state's 3,200 city, township, borough, police, fire and local authority pensions used to portion $250 million-plus in yearly state subsidy for local pension funds are due in PERC's Harrisburg offices. The Auditor General's office uses those reports to audit the pensions and ensure towns are raising enough money to pay retirees what they promised.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 11:52 AM

Curalate, the "visual commerce" software maker that helps Urban Outfitters and Forever21 sell clothes via partners Instagram, Pinterest and other social media, has raised $27.5 million from its past investors New Enterprise Associates (the largest U.S. venture capital outfit), Josh Kopelman's Philadelphia-based FirstRound Capital (biggest VC based on the East Coast), and MentorTech Ventures (a Phila-based group, includes Pa. state venture capital, which backs firms run by Penn people like Curalate CEO Apu Gupta, a Wharton MBA). "They believe," Gupta told me. 

"(I) consider them a good vendor because their stuff never breaks," a software developer who built a client using Curalate API told me. Curalate's Gupta cheered when I passed that along: "In retail, uptime really is a big deal," he said.

Gupta says the latest cash infusion, which follows $12.5 million in fundraising since 2012, will pay to double Curalate's staff -- currently 115 at its Center City HQ, New York and Seattle offices -- to 230 by year's end. "We're trying to disrupt a $1.6 trillion (ecommerce) market. It's gonna take some money," Gupta told me. "There's a lot of hiring to be done."

POSTED: Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 9:46 AM

TE Connectivity Inc., a $12 billion (yearly sales) switch, sensor and electronic equipment maker that is nominally based in Switzerland but run from offices in Berwyn, Chester County, has agreed to pay $895 million to purchase Creganna Medical, a $250 milion, Ireland-based maker of "invasive" medical devices, from owner Permira Funds.

Creganna will expand the buyer's existing medical businesses. The deal "establishes TE Connectivity as a leading provider of minimally invasive integrated solutions in the attractive interventional segment," TE CEO Thomas Lynch said in a statement. The deal is pending regulatory approval; TE hopes to close this fall. 

Lynch added that Creganna bulks up TE's capacity to build parts for medical manufacturers "in critical harsh environment applications" under the "extreme conditions" inside human bodies. Creganna supplies medical weapons for "minimally invasive medical procedures used in cardiovascular, neurovascular and other life-saving treatments and procedures." The company says these devices can be less expensive to apply, compared to traditional surgery. 

POSTED: Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 9:32 AM

Fanatics, the California-based, $1 billion (yearly sales) pro and college team sports apparel online sales giant owned by Michael Rubin's West Conshohocken-based Kynetic, has agreed to pay $17 million in cash to buy Kitbag, a $100 million, U.K.-based "international sports eCommerce company," from owner Kindel Plc.  

The deal joins Kitbag's licensed soccer gear sales and its European contracts for the NFL, NBA and NHL, to Fanatics' deals for American sales by teams in those leagues, plus others in Major League baseball, NCAA and other U.S. franchises, and media (Fanatics picks up customers through deals with sports media, from Comcast to Philly.com, though it's not always apparent to users.)

Kitbag partners include Manchester United, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton, Leicester Tigers, and Borussia Dortmund soccer football clubs,  as well as events such as the French Open and Wimbledon tennis championships, Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup (golf), and Formula 1 auto racing.

About this blog

PhillyDeals posts interviews, drafts and updates that Joseph N. DiStefano writes alongside his Sunday and Monday columns and ongoing articles about Philadelphia-area business.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn. He taught writing and research at St. Joe’s. He has written for the Inquirer since 1989, except when he left a few times to work at Bloomberg and elsewhere. He wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six kids with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com, 215.854.5194, @PhillyJoeD. Read his blog posts at http://www.philly.com/PhillyDeals and his Inquirer columns at http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/joseph-distefano/. Bloomberg posts his items at NH BLG_PHILLYDEAL.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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