Thursday, November 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Archive: February, 2012

POSTED: Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 2:17 PM

Devon Park Bioventures, of Wayne, has invested $7 million in Vascular Magnetics Inc., a start-up firm based at the University City Science Center, which is building a system for fighting peripheral artery disease, a condition that leads to leg amputations for aging diabetics and smokers. 

The money will go to develop a prototype magnetic catheter and drug delivery system that will help patients get artery-clearing medication when and where they need it, chief operating officer Richard S. Woodward PhD told me.

Woodward co-founded the company with Dr. Robert J. Levy, a padiatric cardiologist who heads the heart research lab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The two met in 2010 at a program sponsored by the University City Science Center to cook up ways to commercialize inventions by professors at Penn, Drexel, CHoP and nearby schools. Levy's lab "proved this works" through animal studies writen up in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Woodward said.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 10:44 AM

"In a six-month investigation spanning three continents," Bloomberg Businessweek says it found Indonesian workers were held in conditions of "slavery," subject to beatings, sexual abuse, withheld wages and passports, on "at least" 10 ships that supply fish and other seafood to U.S. grocery chains and other world markets.  Read the story here. 

POSTED: Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 4:48 PM

"By mimicking the swarming behaviors of birds, fish and insects,  (Alex) Kushleyev and (Daniel) Mellinger, along with the Engineering School’s deputy dean of education Vijay Kumar, are helping scientists and engineers create smarter, faster and more flexible robots," Penn Engineering reports here. Plus cool videos of swarming robots.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 12:11 PM

Comcast has signed deals to "broadly distribute" two African American and two Latino/crossover TV networks over the next four years, as part of last year's promise to support 10 minority-owned cable groups while applying to get its NBC Universal takeover approved. Statement here. Summary:

1) BabyFirst Americas: Constantino "Said" Schwarz proposes an educational network forcused on babies, toddlers, parents, to debut this April.

2) Aspire - led by ex-NBA star Earvin "Magic" Johnson, "in partnership with GMC TV, Aspire plans black-theme "movies, documentaries, short films, music, comedy, visual and performing arts, and faith and inspirational programs" by this summer.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 10:16 AM

ALSO: US busts another GeoInvesting target. NYTimes story here.

UPDATED: Mark Jensen, portfolio manager at New York-based T-Squared Partners LLC, the largest institutional holder of L&L Energy, sent me a note this morning objecting to Skippack-based GeoInvesting's critique of China coal investor L&L Energy, which I wrote about here.

GeoInvesting questions L&L's claim to control a coal mine complex in southern China, citing local Chinese mine and property documents and recorded interviews with men it identifies as the mine's actual owners.

Jensen says his firm has visited the mine more than a dozen times, checked legitimate sale documents, and obtained "a legal opinion from the largest law firm in China," among other proofs of L&L's purchase of the site.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 9:41 AM

Owners of Northeast Philadelphia's Grant Plaza shopping development, listed by Morningstar Credit Ratings LLC last month among the many commercial real estate properties whose loans had gone to a special servicer, has attracted new tenants, and is "96 percent" leased, says Isaac D. Massry of Wharton Realty Group, Eatontown, Grant Plaza owner since 2005.

The former loan on the property "was refinanced with Beneficial Bank at the end of December" and previous lenders paid in full, Massry told me. Former tenant Eckerd Drugs' replacement, Dollar Tree, pays "similar rent," he added. Video chain Blockbuster's departure was replaced by Sleep's "within a few days."

Plus there's a new tenant in the works: "We are also excited about welcoming Supreme China Buffet who signed a lease for 11,000 square feet and is expected to open within a  month or two."

POSTED: Monday, February 20, 2012, 4:30 PM

Vernon Hill, the Commerce Bank founder who now runs London-based Metro Bank, confirms a story in Britain's Sunday Express that his Metro Bank Plc seeks "growth capital" to expand beyond London into England's Home Counties and the Shore resort of Brighton.

Anthony Thomson, the British banker who chairs Metro (Hill is CEO), "says the privately-owned bank may need to tap existing and new investors for new funds to continue its rapid expansion, ahead of its planned flotation [IPO] on the London Stock Exchange in 2014," according to the Express.

The bank raised 52 million UK pounds in 2010 and has continued to add branches. Metro needs "growth capital," Hill told me. Other upstart British banks have stalled or are expanding by acquisition; Hill prefers ground-up construction and control. 

POSTED: Monday, February 20, 2012, 11:24 AM

UPDATE: On Feb. 7 Standard & Poor's cut Paperworks' credit rating from B to B- and warned of further cuts and bond defaults due to "sluggish demand" and "weaker-than-previously-expected" cash flow after Sun refinanced the company's debt last year. More in my column in today's Inquirer here.

The paper mill on Flat Rock Road in Manayunk, one of the oldest industrial sites in Philadelphia, has been traded back and forth by at least half a dozen companies in the past 30 years, from the old Container Corp. of America to bankrupt Jefferson Smurfit.

Current owner Sun Capital, the Florida-based firm headed by Marc Leder, a leader in the group that bought the NBA Philadelphia 76ers last year, in 2008 made Manayunk the flagship plant and corporate headquarters for a reorganized group of formerly bankrupt paper plants called Paperworks Industries.

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 or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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