Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Archive: April, 2012

POSTED: Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 11:17 AM

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is moving capital markets and M&A boss Jeff Urwin to Hong Kong. Wall St Journal in this story calls it a routine move to "shore up" a weak part of the company, and notes European banks that put senior people in China haven't kept them there.

But veteran bank analyst Richard X. Bove' sees this as a threat to the dollar and the US standard of living. He gives two reasons for the move: Asia's growing faster than the U.S.; and "the bank will not be as constrained by U.S. regulators." More US banks are looking to leave Wall St for places where they aren't taxed and treated like enemies, he tells clients of Rochdale Research in a report today.

Bove' says his banking industry sources tell him other giant banks are preparing to "move key business outside the United States" due to the "hostile" attitude of the federal and New York State governments. Politicians here "have made their careers bashing banks," while the Chinese are eager for U.S. banking help.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 9:27 AM

Harleysville Group Inc. shareholders voted  to accept $60 a share from Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., chief executive Michael L. Browne said in this statement this morning.

That price is far more than the stock's previous high, in the mid-$30s. Critics, including policyholders who have sued the company, say some of the price should be paid to policyholders, the mutual's nominal owners, as happened in previous mutual sales like Nationwide's purchase of the former Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co., Berwyn, ten years ago.

There were two votes:

POSTED: Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 3:07 PM

Tom Kozlik, municipal credit analyst at Janney Capital Markets, expects Standard & Poor's to make good on its 13-month-old warning that it may cut the credit rating of the Philadelphia Please Touch Children’s Museum below its current BBB- "with a Negative outlook" to junk-bond status.

S&P's latest report, dated April 10, credits the museum with "strong attendance" - 571,000  last year, up "slightly" from 2010; and with raising a "growing museum fund," now $14.3 million, to pay down the debt the museum incurred when it moved to Fairmount Park after its previous fundraising drive "stalled" in the recession.

But S&P still lists a "negative outlook" for the museum; it will have to raise more money or improve its margins before its investment-grade credit rating is safe.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 2:06 PM

USA Technologies Inc. (USAT) said ex-director Bradley Tirpak has launched another attempt to take over the $25 million (yearly sales), money-losing, Malvern-based company, which makes the e-Port credit card payment system for use at vending machines and other small-ticket retail sales points.

In a statement, USAT said Tirpak has served notice he plans present himself and six allies as board candidates attempting a "hostile takeover" in this year's director election. USAT said incumbent directors, who are led by chairman Stephen P. Herbert, will oppose the insurgents,  In the statement, Herbert said the company, which employs 50, had "achieved significant progress" toward profits and better effeciency. The shares traded today at $1.74, down about $2 from last Spring's high. 

Tirpak, head of Locke Partners LLC, New York, resigned as a USAT director earlier this year after a dispute with his colleagues, according to USAT. He had joined the board in 2010 after a previous takeover attempt.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 1:55 PM

PNC Financial Services Group, the biggest bank based in Pennsylvania, has named 10-year PNC veteran executive William Demchak as president. Statement here.

The promotion "will likely strengthen the market's sense that Mr. Demchak is the likely heir apparent to current CEO Jim Rohr," R. Scott Siefers, bank analyst at Sandler O'Neill + Partners in New York, told clients in a report. "Our best guess is that it is still a few years away." 

Demchak, who is 49, joined PNC in 2002 as chief financial officer. He later headed big-businss banking. He was named senior vice chairman in 2009 and now holds "supervisory responsibility for all PNC businesses," the company said in a statement.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 12:48 PM

The Wharton School out at the University of Pennsylvania holds its yearly Venture Finals, a sort of "Shark Tank" competition for MBA-student tech- company founders, at the yearly Wharton Business Plan Competition, Wednesday afternoon, starting at 1 pm, at Huntsman Hall (38th St. SE of the Locust footbridge), for the $30,000 Michelson prize and lesser awards.

 Free to those who register at https://bpc.wharton.upenn.edu/venturefinals.html

After the eight 20-minute presentations (including Q&As), the crowd will weigh 90-seconds-or-so Elevator Pitches for a $3,000 People's Choice Award.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 12:25 PM

"A $270 million bankrupt Western Pennsylvania ethanol plant, Bionol Clearfield L.L.C., which opened in 2009 and shut down last year, has been sold to a Michigan agricultural company for $9.35 million, according to a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware," writes my colleague Andy Maykuth in today's Inquirer business summary. Previous Maykuth story on Bionol Clearfield.

"Pennsylvania Grain Processing L.L.C., an affiliate of Zeeland Farm Services Inc., said the court had approved the purchase... Bionol Clearfield was funded with $27 million in state grants and loans and $67 million in tax-free bonds.

"It declared bankruptcy after Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc., backed out of contracts to buy the fuel produced at the plant. The new buyers say they plan to restart the plant as soon as possible."

POSTED: Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 10:45 AM

Harrisburg, Camden County, and now Montgomery County: Moody's Investors Service has cut its credit rating for  Montgomery County Industrial Develpment Authority's $34 million 2002 bond issue, which is financed by the incinerator at 1155 Conshohocken Road, to Baa3, just above junk-bond status, from A2, low credit risk.

"The economic decline appears to have led to meaningful reduction in waste," complains a team of credit analysts at Moody's Investors Service, led by Esra Akyol, in their report last night.

The incinerator burns 1,215 tons of trash a day from 22 mostly wealthy Montgomery County towns and other, private trash sources, uses the heat to power steam electric generators, and sells the resulting electricity to Exelon Corp.

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.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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