Friday, September 4, 2015

POSTED: Thursday, August 20, 2015, 4:50 PM
A view of the Dupont logo on a wall at the Dupont Edge Moor facility near Wilmington, Delaware, April 17, 2012. (REUTERS / Tim Shaffer)

Chemours Co., a chemical maker split off from DuPont Co. last month, says it will close its 115-acre titanium dioxide white-pigment plant at Edge Moor, Del., idling 200 workers and 130 contractors, as part of a general reduction in production of the compound, which is used in PVC pipe, appliance paint and other industrial materials.

The company will “redeploy” staff or pay them severance, Wilmington-based Chemours says in this statement. 

Edge Moor is located south of the former Claymont Steel (CitiSteel, Evraz) works which closed last year and is being demolished to make way for industrial and office redevelopment close to the newly expanded Sunoco Logistics gas terminal in Marcus Hook, Pa., which is expected to greatly accelerate fuel and materials shipping and export traffic on the Delaware River.  More on the Edge Moor plant in EPA's site report here.

POSTED: Thursday, August 20, 2015, 1:49 PM

Murex Investments I LP, a Philadelphia venture capital fund focused on poor neighborhoods, has been taken over by the U.S. Small Business Administration after its losses exceeded levels allowed SBA-backed funds. The takeover settles a civil compaint filed by Zane Memeger, U.S. Attorney for Philadelphia, on SBA's behalf under provisons of the federal New Markets Venture Capital Program which set conditions for taxpayer-backed venture capital investments. The government says Murex owed $2.6 million.

The Murex fund, founded in 2003, raised $13.75 million from banks and other investors, including $8.5 million in SBA investment guarantees and $1 million in Pennsylvania state economic development funds, according to Joel Steiker, managing partner at the fund's parent company, Murex Investments. Murex invested in a string of successful East Coast companies, including fund-transfer firm PayQuik of Bala Cynwyd, acquired by Citigroup in 2008 for a price five and a half times what Murex had invested, and AnySource Media of Malvern, bought by DivX in 2009. 

But Murex, like other funds that used the New Markets program, had a tough time finding a lot of good investments in the areas to which it was restricted by the program. The bankruptcy last November of Murex-backed, Chester-based library computing supplier Advanced Workstations in Education left Murex with debts it couldn't pay. Advanced Workstations was sold in a Chapter 11 Section 363 auction in April, by investment banker J. Scott Victor and his colleagues at SSG Capital Advisors, West Conshohocken, to Blackstreet Capital, a Bethesda, Md.-based turnaround investor.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 3:34 PM

Comcast Spotlight LP, the lucrative ad-sales division of Comcast Cable, has signed a deal to move its headquarters to 130,000 square feet at 725 Chesterbrook Boulevard in Tredyffrin Township, from current offices near West Chester.

Binswanger vice presidents Marc Policarpo and Bob Corr represented Comcast Spotlight; CBRE Inc. represented Pitcairn, owner of the 1.3 million sf Chesterbrook Corporate Center that houses the new Spotlight space. 

Comcast also occupies more than 2 million sf of office space in Center City Philadelphia, where it is building a second high-rise headquarters tower and has arranged sites for two additional potential office towers nearby. The company and its affiliates also have offices at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia and in several suburban communities.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 12:41 PM
A penny for your thoughts - and that stock. Delaware officials hope a new board of trade for penny stocks will be the key to a rebirth in Wilmington.

Officials in Delaware and its largest local govenrment -- New Castle County, where most Delawareans live -- were beyond enthusiastic on July 28 after county council agreed to authorize up to $15 million in revenue bonds to help a group of prominent ex-Wall Streeters (with Washington connections) build the Delaware Board of Trade -- DBOT -- a new securities market, in Wilmington.

 DBOT says its organizers include former NYSE CEO Richard Grasso, former UBS Financial Services CEO Joseph Grano, former Philadelphia Stock Exchange chairman John Wallace, former Cincinnati Stock Exchange CEO Richard “Nick” Niehoff, and Denis Toner, a former aide to Vice President Biden who also served on the U.S. Postal Service board.

DBOT is designed to exploit the JOBS Act, a 2012 law passed by Congress (with particular support from U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., more here) that allows small businesses that lack full Securities and Exchange Commission IPO approvals to raise up to $50 million from investors (the old limit was $5 million).

POSTED: Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 10:40 AM
AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center at the parking garage for Caesars Casino in Atlantic City. (WikiMedia)

Geisinger Health System's planned absorption of AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, the 600-bed Shore hospital system with offices across South Jersey, has won a "Positive" credit outlook report from Cynthia Keller, credit analyst at Standard & Poor's Ratings Services. "We could raise the rating once AtlantiCare's affiliation with Geisinger is consummated," Keller told S&P clients in a report today.

Geisinger, based in the upstate Pennsylvania town of Danville, signed an agreement to take over AtlantiCare in May 2014. S&P rates Geisinger 'AA', and ranks AtlantiCare (including $147 million in 2007 and 2012 series hospital revenue bonds) a notch below at 'A+'.

Typically, the higher the rating, the more likely a borrower is expected to pay back investors who buy its bonds to fund new buildings and other capital projects, and the less interest the borrower has to pay investors to buy its bonds. AtlantiCare "hopes to receive regulatory approvals later this year" for the Geisinger combination, Keller noted. Failure to close the deal would leave AtlantiCare with the current rating, she added.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 1:13 PM
A screen grab from pqcorp.com.

CCMP, a buyout firm associated with megabank JPMorgan, Chase & Co., says it has combined Eco Services Operations LLC, a sulfuric acid production and recycling company based in Cranbury, NJ, with operations in Texas, Louisiana, California, Indiana and other states, into PQ Corp., the Malvern-based chemical and industrial glass products maker. Terms of the deal, sales for the combined companies and other details were not immediately disclosed.

PQ chief executive George Blitz will lead the combined companies, which employ more than 2,600 worldwide.; Mike Boyce, CCMP's chairman for both companies, will hold that post for the combined boards, too. PQ and Eco Services have "complementary financial profiles and management capabilities" and should grow well together, Tim Walsh, CCMP managing director for industrial investments, said in a statement.

PQ is the former Philadelphia Quartz Co.; it has changed hands through leveraged buyouts between CCMP, Carlyle and other owners in past years. Eco Services, previously known as Stauffer Chemical Co., was formerly owned by Rhone-Poulenc, the French chemical giant whose U.S. operations were based in the Philadelphia area.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 12:43 PM
William S. Latoff, CEO of Downingtown National Bank and DNB Financial Corporation. (Dallas Knight / Inquirer File Photo)

In an Aug. 17 letter to staff of DNB First NA (Downingtown National Bank) and DNB Financial Corp., also filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, veteran Chester County banker Bill Latoff writes: 

I want to share with you the news that I was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer that is highly treatable and curable.

My physicians have told me that during the course of my treatments, which I've recently begun, I can expect to maintain a regular presence in the office and continue to actively lead the management of our bank.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 8:24 AM
National Penn Bank. (File photo: Bob Williams / Staff Photographer)

BB&T, the North Carolina-based branch-banking giant, says it has agreed to pay $1.8 billion, or $13 a share, for National Penn Bank, a consumer and small-business lender with more than 100 branches in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Combined, the banks will rival Wells Fargo & Co. as the dominant branch banking network in Chester County, Pennsylvania's richest; BB&T will have more than $1.6 billion in deposits there if it can hold onto the accounts it is buying, according to FDIC data. The deal cements BB&T's #1 ranking in Lancaster County (from its recent acquisition of Susquehanna Bank), also #2 in Berks County (Reading) and #2 in both Lehigh (Allentown) and Northampton (Bethlehem). BB&T also hopes to boost insurance and investment sales here.

BB&T will have smaller market share elsewhere in the Philadelphia area, though it hopes to do more business there and in South Jersey in the future, President Ricky Brown told me. The bank will close branches where the two banks have duplicate locations.

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
Also on Philly.com:
letter icon Newsletter