Thursday, July 30, 2015

POSTED: Thursday, July 16, 2015, 4:01 PM

A Doylestown lawyer plans to plead Not Guilty to federal criminal accusations of insider trading in the 2011 sale of the former Harleysville Group Inc. to Nationwide Mutual Life Insurance Co., his lawyer says.

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday filed civil insider trading charges against Sudfield. According to an SEC statement, "Sudfeld was a real estate partner at a law firm that advised Harleysville on the merger.  Sudfeld was not involved in the merger and learned that the announcement of it was imminent from a conversation between an attorney working on the transaction and their shared legal assistant." The SEC says Sudfield "stole the inside information," bought Harleysville stock for himself and his wife, and sold the shares after the merger announcement -- which drove Harleysville shares up 87% -- pocketing "approximately $79,000 in illegal profits," the SEC concluded.

Following a related FBI investigation, federal prosecutors in Philadelphia have prepared criminal insider trading charges alongside the SEC's action, and  “Mr. Sudfeld is going to enter a Not Guilty plea in the criminal case on Monday,” said his attorney, Robert Welsh of Welsh & Recker, Philadelphia.

POSTED: Thursday, July 16, 2015, 3:25 PM

Curalate, the Center City-based Web social-media marketing-analytics platform headed by Main Line natives Nick Shiftan and Apu Gupta, has expanded its head office at 2401 Walnut St., close by the newly-expanded Schuylkill Banks park and University City, by more than 4,000 square feet, to 10,700 sf, says Stockton real Estate Advisors' Mike Dolan, who repped the landlord.

Backed by New Enterprise Associates, Philadelphia-based FirstRound Capital and MentorTech, Curalate counts @Nordstrom, @Chobani, @MichaelKors, @BuzzFeed and @Gap among its clients. The company raised $8.6 million from investors last year, according to an SEC filing.

The building's "commitment to providing clients unique, green, sustainable premises continues to attract blue-chip tenants," according to broker Dolan.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 3:44 PM

On Tuesday, as President Obama laid out the European Union (EU)-brokered U.S.-Iran nuclear deal, as Greeks argued over the new EU-backed fiscal rescue and austerity plan, EU Ambassador-to-the-U.S. David O'Sullivan was in Philadelphia, meeting with the Irish American Business Chamber and Network and the British American Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, and pitching yet another EU treaty: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which, like the roughly similar Trans-Pacific Partnership in non-Chinese Asia, is being sold as a way to boost exports and tie capitalist nations closer for mutual profits and jobs. So they tell us.

I asked O'Sullivan what this sudden-looking outburst of European consensus-building ought to teach us. Highlights: The art of diplomacy is not dead. It's still a very important tool for trying to resolve intractable conflicts. The idea of setting people around a table and talking things out is at the core of that. 

Can the U.S. trust Iran? As the President said this morning, (the Iran deal) is Not the type of deal you make with a friend. It's the kind of agreement you make with people who don't see eye to eye. Diplomacy provides a tool for people who don't see eye to eye to solve immediate prolems.

We have not solved all the problems. The deal is very much focused on the idea of nuclear weapons. It is all the more remarkable one is able to find such a good deal. It takes out one major element of instability.

The EU chaired these talks, you know. Our representative Federica Mogherini said it is a sign of hope for the whole world. I think it is a very positive sign that, amid all the conflicts and difficulties the international community is facing, it was possible to do this deal, with the support of Russia and China.

Not all EU countries use the Euro... Actually the single currency is a treaty obligation; if you are in the European Union it is a legal obligation to join the single currency.

Around 19 of the 28 (EU) countries (use the Euro). The only country that has a formal dispensation is the U.K.  A couple of other countries are sort of temporarily choosing to delay full membership. A number of countries are not yet at the position where they would be able to join. 

And you almost lost one... I'm not sure I would agree that we almost lost Greece. It was challenging to try and find an agreement on the way forward. There were tough negotiations over the weekend, as is so often the case with the European Union. In the end an greement was found.

This is not the end of the discussion. This requires ratification by the Greek parliament and a number of national parliaments.

POSTED: Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 1:47 PM

A Pennsylvania grand jury reports that "Mayor Stephen Reed, abetted by associates in government and the professsional community, exploited the availability of capital in the municipal debt market to raise money for purposes utterly unrelated" to the projects the city sold many milions of dollars' worth of bonds to investors to pay for.

Reed, mayor of the state capital, Harrisburg, from 1981-2009, faces a long list of criminal racketeering, bribery and theft charges, for ripping off investors, leaving citizens exposed to large losses, and using public funds to obtain, at least, hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of collectibles amid Reed's abortive museum projects.

Why now, long after he left office? And why just Reed, when so many other elected officials and professionals collecting taxpayer fees had to cooperate for Reed to commit his alleged crimes? State Attorney General Kathleen Kane, like Reed a Democrat, told the Harrisburg Patriot-News more charges are likely. Read the Grand Jury report here.

POSTED: Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 1:17 PM

Santander Holdings USA (it owns the former Sovereign Bank), "one of only two banks which failed to pass
muster" in the Fed's 2015 Comprehensive Capital Analysis review, failed, not because it didn't have enough capital, but because of the Fed's perception of the quality of its capital support (liquidity, capital and/or risk controls) from its owner, Spain's Banco Santander, writes Kathleen Shanley, bond analyst at Gimme Credit LLC in New York.

The Fed says Santander has until the end of August to write a stronger capital plan for the U.S. bank and its Dallas-based Santander Consumer lending arm, the Fed said. On the eve of July 4, Shanley told clients in a report, Santander Consumer "announced that its CEO Thomas Dundon would step down, and sell his ownership stake back to the bank for more than $900 million." 

How does a bank executive at a bank that doesn't quite meet regulatory requirements collect a billion dollars? Santander bought Dundon into the company in its purchase of a  controlling stake in Dundon's old company, auto lender Drive Financial, in 2006; the unit later won a deal to handle loans for Chrysler Corp. Santander Consumer, Shanley adds, continues to focus on subprime loans; it had to pay $9 million to settle a US Department of Justice lawsuit last year alleging "illegal" repossession of cars belonging to U.S. military service members; the parent company has helped Santander Consumer maintain its dividend with special funding transfers.

POSTED: Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 12:50 PM

Society Hill Civic Association is advertising its meeting tonight at the Pennsylvania Hospital's Zubrow auditorium (thanks for the correction, readers), 800 Spruce St., as "an exchange of information, ideas and concerns regarding the redevelopment of 309-37 S. 5th Street (the “Superfresh Site”) and 314-26 S. 5th St. (“Wine Store Site”)." Some neighbors are worried the working Superfresh on 5th could be bulldozed away and replaced by apartments, forcing them to walk farther for groceries.

As I've previously noted, the Richard I. Rubin development company (his family founded PREIT, which co-owns the Gallery and suburban malls) has acquired the Superfresh site. Developer Alterra Group LLC is indeed looking to add apartments.  The Association says Alterra has offered "to negotiate with SHCA and near neighbors regarding the design and use of the re-development of the Superfresh site. The Developer has no current plans to redevelop the Wine Store Site."

Superfresh has a lease until 2018 and has told the asociation it wants to stay longer. Alterra says it has permission to build up to 38 feet/3 stories. The developer wants neighbors' approval to build more apartments, and may be willing to keep the supermarket there, in exchange for allowing more apartments. The Association is asking activists to "poll their members before the meeting, so they are able to represent a consensus." 

POSTED: Monday, July 13, 2015, 4:45 PM

For the second year in a row, suburban Philadelphia's moderate-Republican Sixth Congressional District has listed among the top 10 of the 438 U.S. Congressional districts last year, as ranked by value of private equity investments, reports the Private Equity Growth Council, a lobbying group devoted to advocating investors' interest on issues like protecting low federal capital-gains tax rates for buyout dealmakers' "carried interest" profit sharing.

Freshman Rep. Ryan Costello's gerrymandered swath of suburbia, which sprawls like dragons mating across bits of Chester, Montgomery, Berks and Lebanon counties, ranked 8th in the nation, up from 10th last year, on the strength of Sungard's PE-backed $2 billion spin-off of its own data systems busines, among other deals (revised), council spokesman James Maloney told me.

And that's not even counting Apax Partners' deal for Genex Services, Wayne; Insight Venture Partners' investment in Frontline Technologies Group, Exton; Dunes Point Capital's purchase of a stake in Alco Industries, Norristown; and other deals whose particular valuations remain, for now, unrecorded. 

POSTED: Monday, July 13, 2015, 4:26 PM

TE Connectivity, the Berwyn-based, $14 billion (yearly sales) sensor and electrical connectors maker, says its FlexWave cellular antenna network faces a major test in the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati park is one of many U.S. stadiums that has built wireless communications systems in an attempt to connect fans and programming and help make sports more accessible and familiar for younger fans. But fans have complained the networks don't reach all stadium corners, especially on busy game days.

The Great American stadium installed TE's FlexWave digital distributed antenna systems in 2011, and has been able to upgrade the antennas and add parking-lot coverage without laying expensive new fiber-optics line, cutting costs in half, TE Wireless vice president and general manager Peter Wraight said in a statement. The system is designed to boost the mobile network, so fans at the game won't get busy signals or slow connection times, according to TE.  (Revised and corrected)

About this blog

PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com, distefano251@gmail.com, 215.854.5194 or 302.652.2004.

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

Joseph N. DiStefano
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