This year, the vote to pick directors to oversee the DuPont Co. in advance of the company's Wednesday, May 13 board meeting looks like a political campaign, instead of the usual corporate rubber-stamp.
In the weeks before DuPont’s annual meeting Wednesday, shareholders -- nearly 2,000 mutual funds, pension funds and other large investors; plus 600,000 DuPont retirees and other individual investors, who own 30 percent of the company -- are fielding daily calls and mailings, from both the Wilmington-based company’s chief executive and chairman Ellen Kullman, and from billionaire activist Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management.
Each claims a better vision for the future of the $35 billion (yearly sales), 63,000-worker, multinational bio- and chemical-materials giant, the only Philadelphia-area company listed on the Dow-Jones Industrial Average of 30 dominant American companies.
Comcast Corp. has named its new chief financial officer: Michael J. Cavanagh, former CFO of Jamie Dimon's giant JPMorgan Chase & Co. and most recently Co-President at private-equity giant Carlyle Group (which co-owns Philadelphia Energy Solutions and dozens of other companies).
"Comcast is an exceptional company that is well-positioned to win in the rapidly-evolving media and technology industries," Cavangh said in a statement. He added that he'll be working closely with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and "one of the best management teams I've come across in any industry." Cavanagh is replacing Michael Angelakis, who said earlier this year, on the eve of Comcast's cancellation of its planned purchase of Time Warner Cable, that he will become chief executive of Comcast's new multi-billion-dollar "growth-oriented" investments company.
Cavanagh joined JPMorgan after Dimon merged his previous company, Chicago-based Bank One (along with Richard Vague's First USA Bank) with the New York financial company and began hiring ex-Citibank colleagues, including Cavanagh, to fill top positions. He's a Yale and Chicago Law graduate and serves on the boardds of Yum Brands (Taco Bell) and the Council on Foreign Relations.
The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the nation's largest state pension investor, says it has voted its 6.5 million shares (about 0.7% of the total) in favor of all 12 incumbent DuPont Co. directors and against the four backed by billionaire activist Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management group in the contested board election ahead of its annual meeting May 13.
"DuPont has outperformed the S&P 500 and its (chemical) industry peers over 1-, 3- and 5-years," since Ellen Kullman became CEO, CalPERS said in a statement. Peltz and his Trian allies, in contrast, "do not have sufficient industry experience." CalPERS added that "the Trian focus is relatively short term" and threatens research and development cuts and higher debt," and a Trian victory has already been cited by Moody's Investors Service as a likely catalyst for a credit rating cut.
CalPERS also noted that Trian spurned DuPont's offer of a single board seat, and DuPont has been open to CalPERS' suggestion DuPont build a "structured channel" so big investors like CalPERS can have a greater say in governance at DuPont and its planned titanium dioxide spinoff, Chemours.
Ametek, the Paoli-based industrial conglomerate, has paid "approximately $200 million" to private equity investor Steven E. Karol's Watermill Group, Lexington, Mass., for Global Tubes, which includes two businesses: Collegeville-based Superior Tube Co. and its 300,000 square foot mill; and Fine Tubes Inc. in Plymouth, England, Watermill says.
Superior and Fine have total sales of $120 million a year, up 16 percent since 2012, when Watermill bought the mills fom owners including descendants of founder Clarence Warden, who started Superior in 1934 as an aircraft tubing supplier.
At the time of the sale, Superior employed around 250, down from 1,000 in the 1960s, the Times Herald reported. Superior now employs around 225 at Collegeville, and the combined tube business employs around 600 worldwide, Ametek spokesman Kevin Coleman told me.
Blackstone, Goldman Sachs, KKR, Silver Lake, Providence Equity, Bain and the other private equity companies that bought Wayne-based corporate software maker SunGard in 2005 for $11.4 billion, are now weighing a sale or initial public stock offering (IPO) that would value what's left at $7 billion, the Wall St. Journal says.
Last year, SunGard split off its Sungard Availability Services (AS) unit -- the company's original computer backup business, developed by Sunoco in the early 1980s -- after it failed to find a buyer amid stiff competition from cloud-based services. Two years earlier, the owners sold company's college software business to what's now Ellucian, for $1.8 billion.
SunGard today reported increased sales and operating earnings. The company suffered slow growth under its private-equity owners, who expected dividends at a time when rival software firms were investing heavily in cloud-based services and marketing. A strategy to boost sales by selling to the firms' other companies fell short.
HPC Inc., a California-based, healthcare-oriented real estate investment trust, has paid $161 million, or $228 a square foot, to previous owner Digital Realty Trust, a San Francisco-based data-center owner, for 833 Chestnut St., its 705,00 sf, 14-story data center and office property in a converted Gimbels warehouse.
"The deal is expected to generate net operating income of about $9.3 million, representing a cap rate (ratio of annual rent/purchase price) of 5.8%" for seller Digital Realty, the company said in a statement.
The price compares to the average $283/sf for Class A office space in Philadelphia last year, according to Real Capital data posted here. But Bill Luff, boss at Colliers International's Phliadelphia office, says the only recent transaction he recalls that far exceeded that price was for the Comcast headquarters -- new construction.
Top officers of the former Wilmington Trust Corp. are among the highest-ranking bankers to face criminal charges and civil fraud charges for falsifying financial reports to bank and securities regulators and investors during the late 2000s financial crisis.
Wilmington Trust, the largest commercial lender based in the Federal Reserve District of Philadelphia at the time, was forced to sell to M&T Bank in 2010 at a fraction of its previous value after admitting hundreds of millions in losses from unpaid real estate development loans. More than 700 bank employees lost their jobs in the aftermath as M&T wrote off bad loans and consolidated operations.
In the criminal charges, William North, the bank's former Chief Credit Officer, and Kevyn Rakowski, the former Controller, each face three counts of making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and one count of lying to the Federal Reserve. North and Rakowski cooperated with "known and unknown" others "in concealing from the market and the Federal Reserve the total quantity of past due loans on the bank's books" in October and November, 2009, according to the federal grand jury indictment.
UPDATED with Domb's replies, read my column in today's Philadelphia Inquirer here. EARLIER: Center City real estate broker Allan Domb hasn't been advertising himself under his familiar title, the "Condo King" in his run for City Council as an at-large Democrat. Backed by a political action committee, he's buying TV time and (God bless him) a full-page Inquirer ad, and enjoys the backing of energetic ex-Mayor Ed Rendell.
A businessman on Council -- to do what? "Alan has big ideas to revitalize our city," the ad promises. Then lists three examples, and veers right off: