Monday, December 22, 2014

Archive: February, 2011

POSTED: Monday, February 28, 2011, 12:07 PM

"I'm worried that the current over-emphasis on the deficit reduction, about which we were all concerned, could result in a fall back to recession," if Congress cuts too much, says James Conybear, director of operations at Metlab, a Wyndmoor company that provides metal-treatment services to other manufacturers. "Heavy, one-sided reductions (will) stall or reverse the recovery."

I met Conybear last week as a group of Philadelphia-area factory owners met with US Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Chaka Fattah, D-Phila., and Allyson Schwartz, D-Phila. and Montgomery. I wrote about the tough questions some of Conybear's peers had for the Democrats and for government generally.

But Conybear reminds me that US manufacturing faces tough competition from government-backed factories abroad - so this is no time for Congress to put a minimal-government ideology in front of real-world production and jobs.

POSTED: Monday, February 28, 2011, 10:27 AM

Blackstone LP, New York, has bought nearly 600 US shopping centers and retail buildings from troubled Australian property owner Centro Properties Group, for $9.4 billion, according to news reports neither company has confirmed. Bloomberg's version here.

Among Centro's Philadelphia area properties are the Roosevelt Mall in Northeast Philadelphia; the Ivy Ridge shopping center in Roxborough; 69th Street Plaza in Upper Darby; the TD Bank building in Plymouth Meeting; and:

Barn Plaza, Doylestown
Bensalem Square
Bristol Park, AND Bristol Plaza
Chalfant Village, AND New Britain Village
Chesterbrook Village Shopping Center near Valley Forge
Collegetown Shopping Center, Glassboro
Collegeville Shopping Center
Cross Keys Commons, Turnersville
Marlton Crossing
Mount Carmel Plaza, Glenside
New Garden Shopping Center near Kennett Square
North Penn Market Place, Lansdale
Ocean Heights Shopping Center, Somers Point
Pilgrim Gardens, Drexel Hill
Rio Grande Plaza
Suburban Plaza, Hamilton Township near Atlantic City
Shoppes at Cinnaminson
Shoppes at Valley Forge, Phoenixville
Valley Fair, Devon
Village at Newtown
Warminster Towne Center
Whitemarsh Shopping Center, Conshohocken
Woodbourne Square, Langhorne

For a national list, see Centro's website here

POSTED: Monday, February 28, 2011, 9:44 AM

National consulting firm LECG Corp., Devon, says it has agreed to sell its aviation and arbitration consulting units to FTI Consulting Inc. of West Palm Beach, Fla., and its tax and business consulting groups (formerly Devon-based Smart & Co.) to Chicago-based national accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP.

Together the businesses LECG is shedding employ around 350, including 200 in the Philadelphia area, most of whom will move from Devon and other suburban locations to Grant Thornton's Center City offices.

The Grant Thornton deal was negotiated over the past two weeks, by LECG's financial advisor, the investment bank William Blair. Parallel talks over how to combine the offices joined LECG managing director John B. Stine II, with Grant Thornton's Philadelphia boss, Managing Partner Rick Gebert, who will lead the combined group.

POSTED: Monday, February 28, 2011, 3:21 PM

Bel Fuse Inc., Jersey City, is offering nearly $250 million, or $6 a share, to take over its larger rival Pulse Electronics, of Trevose.Both companies make high-speed data, military and airline electronics, including jacks, fuses, switches and other circuit assemblies.

Bel wants to keep the offer "friendly," but it's "committed" to doing the deal even if Pulse resists, Bel director Avi D. Eden told Puls lead director John Burrows in a letter. Eden is a former executive at Vishay Intertechnology, Malvern.

A Bel-Pulse combination would enable the combined companies to cut jobs and other costs, beef up their product lines, boost engineering and design, and increase foreign sales, to the benefit of customers and employees, Bel says.

POSTED: Friday, February 25, 2011, 1:50 PM

Last year, the Philadelphia Water Department, prompted by federal water-pollution guidelines, imposed big changes in the stormwater-runoff fees it charges business-property owners for the privilege of getting rained on.

Used to be, you paid a stormwater fee based on how much treated city water you bought each year.

That made no sense, since city water mostly goes down the drain through the sewage system, for which you pay a separate fee. It's rainwater, not city water, that regularly overflows the city's cement drainage channels, water-retention basins and rudimentary stormwater-treatment facilities.

POSTED: Friday, February 25, 2011, 1:08 PM

Employees of the former Smart Business Advisory and Consulting, Devon, the largest independent accounting firm based in the Philadelphia area before its 2007 acquisition by Boston buyout firm Great Hill Partners LLC, are wondering who they'll be working for as the fallout from that $100 million+ deal settles.

Smart's current owner, cash-strapped LECG Corp., is negotiating to sell other business units to FTI Consulting Inc. of West Palm Beach. It's a week since LECG put out a statement confirming it's been talking to Florida-based FTI Consulting Inc. "on the possible acquisition of several specific practice groups within LECG and not an acquisition of the entire firm."

Smart founder Jim Smart and his partners sold his controlling stake back in 2007 to Great Hill Partners of Boston for $60 million in cash (plus $45 million in assumed debt.) Partners retained a $15 million interest, now worth nearly nothing. Great Hill then merged Smart into LECG, a publicly-traded company, and invested another $35 million. LECG then moved its nominal HQ to Devon.

POSTED: Friday, February 25, 2011, 10:13 AM

Philadelphia city wage and net-profits taxes totalled $156 million in January, highest since May 2006, says city controller Alan Butkovitz.

But Butkovitz also warned real estate sales fell 9%, to around 10,800, which will likely cut transfer tax revenues and be reflected in lower home appraisals and future real estate taxes.

The busiest neighborhoods for home sales were in South Philadelphia (zip codes 19146,-7,-8) and parts of the lower Northeast (19124, 19149).

POSTED: Thursday, February 24, 2011, 12:53 PM

Ex-University of Pennsylvania executive Louis Berneman Ph.D. has combined with Osage Partners, a Bala Cynwyd investment group run by Robert Adelson and Marc Singer, to raise $100 million in funding committments for Osage University Partners I, a fund that will invest in small companies that use technology licensed from Penn, CalTech, Berkeley, Columbia, Yale, Michigan, Duke, and Florida universities.

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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