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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: February, 2012

POSTED: Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 2:50 PM

Philadelphia City Council veteran James F. Kenney, D-At Large, wants "to hold public hearings investigating the use of qualified interest rate management agreements by the City and School District," explore whether it's time to sue banks, lawyers and financial advisers to recover taxpayers' losses, and weigh a ban on interest-rate swaps and other complex financial arrangements.

In his resolution calling for hearings, Kenney cites the multi-million-dollar payouts the city and the Philadelphia School District have had to make as a result of interest-rate swap contracts, which banks that lent the city money said were designed to protect taxpayers against rising interest rates, but ended up costing millions as rates instead fell to near-record lows.

Kenney also cites state Auditor General Jack Wagner's 2009 report documenting swaps abuses in Bethlehem and other upstate school districts and calling for a municipal swaps ban, and the labor-backed Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's recent report estimating current and future losses to the city at $330 million.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 4:17 PM

Two Philadelphia buyout funds that manage money for state retirees, and their investment partners,  are selling a company that runs 45 Philadelphia-area parking garages and more than 2,000 others nationwide in a deal worth around $350 million.

Standard Parking Corp., a publicly-traded company based in Chicago, will pay $27 million in cash over a three-year period, plus Standard shares worth $110 million at recent prices, and assume $210 million in debt, to acquire Nashville-based Central Parking Corp. from Lubert-Adler Partners LP and Versa Capital Management LLP, and Kohlberg & Co., Central's major owners.

The deal includes garages Central Parking operates at 1500 Market, 1616 Sansom, 1500 Locust, and other Center City locations. 

POSTED: Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 2:03 PM

North Carolina-based Bottom Dollar Food says it's going to hire 300 for 8 new stores in South Jersey. Stores will open: in the 2700 block of S. Broad St., Trenton, and the 1400 block of US 130 North, Cinnaminson, on March 2; on April 13 at US 130 and Farnsworth Ave.; and later in the year in Edgewater Park, Bellmawr, Woodbury, Mount Holly, and East Windsor (also on US 130).

The new stores join 5 existing South Jersey Price Choppers, and 13 more in Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania suburbs, part of a surge of low-end non-union grocers competing with market leaders Shop-Rite and Acme Markets. 

POSTED: Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 9:52 AM

Philadelphia ex-oil-refinining-giant Sunoco's decision to shut its Eagle Point, Marcus Hook and (probably) South Philly refineries will leave western New York State and Pennsylvania short of diesel fuel and may drive up fuel prices across the Northeast, writes my colleague Andrew Maykuth here, citing federal data.

But the brains at Sunoco are unswerving in their dedication to retailing. The chain's A-Plus stores in several states, including western New York, are adding fancy beers to their list of retail products, through the Craft Beer Exchange program introduced last summer. More here and here and here.

Andy tells me Sunoco has had a tough time rolling out the barrels, or bottles, in its native Pennsylvania, where beer distribution remains a state-licensed oligopoly.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 9:23 AM

Email of the Week:

Dear Joseph N. Destefano (sic)Good Morning to you.

I have been reading some of your articles on Philly[.com] and I appreciate how informative and educative they are.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 4:05 PM

Orleans Homebuilders Inc. is back from bankruptcy, with veterans of the long suburban home-building boom replacing the three generations of the Orleans family who ran the Bensalem-based builder for more than 90 years before the publicly-traded company filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2010.

No longer publicly-traded - the company is now controlled by buyout investors and creditors Strategic Value Partners of Greenwich, Conn.; Anchorage Capital, New York; and the distressed-debt desk of Bank of America - Orleans isn't following rival Toll Bros. in building apartments in Brooklyn, Center City, Seattle and other urban renewal centers.

Instead boss George Casey, a veteran of Horsham-based Toll Bros. and Berwyn-based Realen Homes, among others, plus aides like newly-hired Lee Darnold, who headed a business unit at Nokia Mobile Phones before going into the homebuilding industry during the boom years, are now building out old Orleans tracts in Chester, Bucks, and Gloucester Counties and down South, enticing buyers from "higher-tax school districts" further up I-95.

POSTED: Monday, February 27, 2012, 9:53 AM

Professional Web advertisers who track the sites you visit in hopes of selling you stuff were reassured, not scared, by the Obama administration's new "Privacy Bill of Rights." In short, it's still up to users, not advertisers, to ask not to be tracked or our browsings bought and sold.

Three Philadelphians - Scott Meyer, chief executive of Havertown-based Evidon; Stu Libby, partner at Venable's Haddonfield office and head of the Digital Advertising Alliance; and Mark Naples of Wit Strategy - were among the industry luminaries woh visited the White House last Thursday for the new policy's unveiling.

Meyer's post to clients here links key documents and summarizes the new policy from his point of view. High points:  

POSTED: Monday, February 27, 2012, 3:10 PM

The Franklin Institute has hired Sweden-based construction giant Skanska's suburban Philadelphia office to build the planned 53,000 sq ft, limestone-faced Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion, to house a conference center, a brain exhibition, and a new exhibit gallery.The project, designed by SaylorGregg Architects, will create 125 construction jobs and 20 permanent (fulltime and parttime) jobs, according to the institute, with work to start this Spring and end by summer 2014.

Donor Nicholas Karabots, who with his wife gave $10 million toward the project and was rewarded with naming rights, is chairman of Kappa Media Group and vice chiarman of publicly-traded Amrep Corp. of Princeton. 

The Karabots addition is part of a $65 million expansoin campaign by the science musuem.

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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