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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: January, 2013

POSTED: Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 2:50 PM
The moorestown branch of Beneficial Bank. (April Saul / Staff Photographer)

Beneficial Bank, the biggest lender still based in Philadelphia, has narrowed it down to three possible new headquarters buildings, all in different parts of Center City, for its central staff of around 250, says chief executive Gerry Cuddy.

The bank's current office in the Penn Mutual tower near 4th and Walnut has cool views of the city's brick colonial neighborhoods backed by the Delaware and the Market Street high-rises -- but the space is broken up and Cuddy wants a single "bloc" of up to 120,000 sq ft, because, hey, space in Philly is as cheap now as it was 20 years ago, mostly.

"Our lease expires March 1 of 2014," so he wants to make a decision this February, to give a year's moving time, he told me.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 12:27 PM

JLL Partners, New York, says it has agreed to buy publicly-traded BioClinica, Newtown Square, for $123 million, or $7.25 a share. JLL plans to merge the medical-therapy clinical-testing firm with CoreLab Partners Inc., Princeton, which develops "medical imaging solutions and cardiac safety devices." BioClinica boss Mark L. Weinstein was named to lead the combined firms.

The per-share sale price represents a five-year high for BioClinica, which has been public since the early 1990s, but is still below its 2007 high of nearly $10 a share. Major owners include Princeton-based Covance, with around 2.4 million shares, and Wellington Management Co., with 1.5 million.

BioClinica employs around 530. CoreLab employs around 325. The impact of the combination on both companies' spending and employment is "to be determined," Morgan Dub Karpo, spokeswoman for the buyer, told me.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 12:01 PM
Gov. Corbett, in announcing a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the NCAA, said the sports governing body overstepped its authority by imposing hefty sanctions on Penn State University in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. RALPH WILSON / Associated Press

Norman P. Hetrick Jr. has re-lit the dark office at the Bellevue on South Broad Street that houses the Governor's Action Team's Philadelphia office.

Hetrick is now Corbett's point man in helping lure manufacturers, offices and retail employers to the city and surrounding counties. It's a familiar job for the Penn grad, who spent four years working for past Mayor Ed Rendell's former Business Action Team before moving to Harrisburg (where his late father was a Dauphin County Commissioner) to work in commercial real estate investment during the 2000s.

Hetrick tells me the Port of Philadelphia's vacant former Naval Base property in South Philly is among the city's most hopeful properties: it's well served by pier, competitive rail and nearby airport and highway links, and potentially attractive to importers, distributors and manufacturers  attracted by Pennsylvania's cheap natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 11:50 AM

Foundation work has started at the long-delayed 2930 Chestnut St. site where Brandywine Realty Trust hoped to build a 36-story 'Cira South' tower (and a second 47-story tower on the property's Walnut St. side). That permit application, renewed last month, here.

A new permit application by Philadelphia contractor Keating Building Corp. describes the foundation work at the same site for a "student residential tower.' Read a summary at the City of Philadelphia Web site here.

Brandywine had hoped to build an office tower at the site but has been unable to land a tenant. Brandywine spokeswoman Marge Boccuti and Penn spokeswoman Julie McWilliams had no specific comment when asked about plans for the site.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 4:17 PM
Mayfair-native Stephen Felice is president and chief commercial officer for Dell. (Photo: Dell.com)

[Updated 2/4/13, with comments from Dell Boomi boss Rick Nucci and ex-Felice colleague Joe Giordano] Philadelphia native Stephen Felice is President and Chief Commercial Officer of Dell Computer, the Austin-based company that's trying to turn itself from the giant of the aging personal-computer business into a "business solutions" maker.

I sat down with Felice at Comcast Center today [1/30/13] as he was helping Dell run a "Think Tank on Entrepreneurs and Small Business," part of Dell's outreach to small and midsized businesses, which account for a quarter of Dell sales. 

Felice talked about some of the people who showed him the road from St. Matthew's Parish in Mayfair to a top job at one of the biggest U.S. tech firms:

POSTED: Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 2:39 PM

Crowley Maritime Corp., the U.S. oil and chemical shipping firm, says it will christen the Florida, one of two U.S.-flagged tankers bought from the Aker Philadelphia Shipyard in South Philadelphia, Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. 

The 45,800-ton Florida can carry 330,000 barrels, or about the daily capacity of a big refinery. Nina Glende Johnsen, wife of Aker Philadelphia boss Kristian Rokke, will join Crowley CEO Tom Crowley to break the bottle and send the Crowley on its way.

Crowley says the ship will support 50 employees on deck and ashore down in the Gulf of Mexico, where it will shuttle between oilfields and oil and chemical plants.

POSTED: Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 2:18 PM

The Washington, D.C. federal appeals court decision to void President Obama's appointments to the National Labor Relations Board is a blow at presidential power that goes far beyond labor-management issues, says Denise M. Keyser, partnre at Philadelphia-based corporate law firm Ballard Spahr. Opinion here.

"This is a huge decision. This has potential to paralyze big sections of the government," says Denise M. Keyser, who represents corporate employers and bosses in fights against labor unions.

"If it is affirmed on appeal to the Supreme Court, or by other districts, it potentially changes the way the United States Government has done business for more than 100 years," she told me, and will force Presidents to compromise a lot more than they already do in hiring replacement managers for many government offices. 

POSTED: Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 2:04 PM
Richard Cordray, the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection bureau. (AP Photo / Kiichiro Sato)

Could the D.C. federal appeals court's overthrow of President Obama's three pro-union National Labor Relations Board members -- who Obama appointed directly while Congress was in recess, after he couldn't get Republicans to back his picks -- affect other recess appointments, like Obama's pick of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? Decision here

"Absolutely," says bank lawyer Alan Kaplinsky, partner at Philadelphia-based Ballard Spahr and longtime counsel to credit card and consumer lenders who has long fought government efforts to rein in financiers.

"The logic of the DC Circuit Court opinion applies with equal force to Obama's appointment of Cordray to head the CFPB. There's no way to distinguish the situations. The appointments were made the same day. The same infirmities the court found with the appointment of the three people to the NLRB apply to Cordray's appointments," Kaplinsky told me.

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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