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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: March, 2013

POSTED: Thursday, March 28, 2013, 9:07 AM

TA Associates Realty, a Boston-based firm that invests pension plan dollars, has agreed to pay $33 million to acquire Highview at Providence Corporate Center, two Class A office buildings totalling 183,000 sq ft near Collegeville, Montgomery County,  which have been mostly occuiped by IMS Healthcare since they were vacated by the former Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in 2010 after Wyeth was bought by Pfizer.

Seller was Equus Capital Partners Ltd., the former BPG Properties, which built Highview for Wyeth in 2003. Brokers Jim Vesey and Doug Rodio of Jones Lang LaSalle's Philadelphia office represented BPG in finding the buyer for the property, which is part of the master-planned, 121-acre Providence Corporate Center.

UPDATE: How's the price? "Although IMS has a long term lease, they have vacated 50% of the leased space. So lenders were not comfortable financing a well-leased but not occupied-office building," says Vesey, managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle. "Replacement costs today could be anywhere from $175 to $225 per sq. ft."

POSTED: Thursday, March 28, 2013, 8:57 AM

 Bryn Mawr Bank Corp., which owns Bryn Mawr Trust Co. and its west-suburban Philadelphia branch network, says it's agreed to pay $33 million in stock -- or 0.52 Bryn Mawr shares for each acquired share -- for Wilmington-based MidCoast Community Bancorp Inc., its 3 Wilmington-area branches and 1 Dover branch, $235 million in loans, and $250 million in deposits.

Bryn Mawr boss Ted Peters told me MidCoast CEO Jim Ladio will run the company's Delaware operations going forward.  Bryn Mawr last year acquired a First Bank of Delaware office near the state line; it's among the banks gunning for former Wilmington Trust Co. personal and business clients (and lenders and trust bankers) since the state's largest bank hit the rocks and was taken over by M&T Bank amid the late financial crisis.

Near-record low interest rates have made it tough for small banks like Mid-Coast to make money from loans and deposits. Bryn Mawr is a larger, more diversified company whose subsidiaries include Lau Associates and other asset-management groups whose focus includes rich Delaware residents.

POSTED: Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 10:31 AM

Down at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza's The Fix has laid out a fanciful "Sweet 16" brackets of Republican and Democratic Party hopefuls for the 2016 Presidential election, including a surprising lot of locals.

Under #1 seeds ex-Secretary of State (and U.S. Sen. and First Lady) Hillary Clinton (D) and Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R) we find... two local #2 seeds: Delaware's own U.S. V.P. Joe Biden for the Ds,  and NJ Gov. Chris Christie for the Rs. 

Further down the bench thins out quick. See for instance Gov. Jack Markell (D-14) and ex-Pa. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-12). (Serving Pennsylvania politicians, by contrast, are out of the running.) Thanks to Markell's past spokesman Brian Selander, now laboring at building a "pro-sports-community" with TheWhistle, for pointing out his ex-boss's name in lights, in this political dreaming season.

POSTED: Friday, March 22, 2013, 11:29 AM
Gov. Tom Corbett wants you to gamble and drink, just a little more, until it helps - the state treasury.

More Jobs! More Money! say the people backing Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett's plans to turn the Pennsylvania Lottery and the State Store liquor sale system over to private operators.

His lottery plan can only add jobs and revenues if private managers convince Pennsylvanians to bet more, through new games like keno in new locations like bars and restaurants, as I noted in this Jan. 21 Philadelphia Inquirer column.

As the pro-privatization Commonwealth Foundation notes in this report yesterday (we published a version in the Inquirer here), State Store opponents tell us that "ending the state-run monopoly will create thousands of additional jobs across the state and unleash millions of dollars in new business investment. The plan allows beer distributors to expand their already safe and reliable businesses, creates hundreds of new wine and liquor outlets, and enables grocery stores to expand to sell wine and beer to meet the needs of consumers."

POSTED: Friday, March 22, 2013, 10:16 AM

Realtime Media, the Bryn Mawr firm owned by onetime Inquirer publisher Brian Tierney's Brian Communications (with backing from Radnor-based NewSpring Ventures), is helping magazine publisher Hearst Communications, publisher of Cosmpolitan, Esquire and other magazines, to target smartphone users for in-store prize awards, Bloomberg LP's Olga Kharif writes here.

POSTED: Friday, March 22, 2013, 3:55 PM
Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro. (File Photo: Laurence Kesterson / Staff Photographer)

UPDATE: Bruce Castor, the remaining Republican on Montgomery County's three-member Board of Commissioners and a conservative hope to replace Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett, wants some credit for the credit rating agency's newly improved view of the county's finances. Write Castor:

"I vigorously and loudly opposed the borrow and spend mentality that created the fiscal mess in the first place last term.  That governing philosophy championed by Joe Hoeffel was the price Jim Matthews was willing to pay to overturn the will of the voters and shut me out of the government. 

"When I would not go along, the consequence was I became the lone voice for fiscal sanity which news outlets covering us almost universally bought into the "sour grapes" spin put on my 'no' votes, greatly diminishing my own credibility and political capital.  In fact, I almost lost my seat within my own party and had to endure a relentless advertising campaign that I was a person who couldn't get along with, and work with, others.  All completely false as subsequent events have shown.

POSTED: Thursday, March 21, 2013, 10:59 AM
A high-rise building at 2000 Market Street in Center City has sold for a reported $110 million. Has the market finally turned? (Photo: Wikipedia.com)

It's either a Center City office market recovery -- or a canny investment by a property specialist who had the capital, smarts and guts to take advantage of a lender's weakness in the financial panic of a few years back -- and scored big:

CBRE Investments confirms it has sold 2000 Market Street, a 600,000 sq ft tower it bought from lender Prudential after its owners defaulted four years ago, to Rosemont Realty Co. of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A source familiar with the sale confirmed the building changed hands for $110 million -- the same figure the Wall St Journal reported the parties were close to back in January -- and twice the $56 million CBRE paid Prudential in 2009 to buy out the previous defaulted owners, a Deutsche Bank real estate fund.

POSTED: Thursday, March 21, 2013, 10:15 AM
Twins Jason and Ryan Meinzer of Hershey (left). Ryan founded the social language learning app, which was purchased by Babbel.com for an undisclosed price.

PlaySay, the Philadelphia-based iPhone "social language learning app" founded by Temple grad Ryan Meinzer in 2008 and backed by Novak Biddle Venture Partners, has been acquired by Berlin-based online language teaching firm Babbel.com for an undisclosed price.

Meinzer, who's from an entrepreneurial family (his parents run Hershey Trolley Works, his brother Jason started Philadelphia's CityRyde bike share, which has morphed into the Zagster bike service) is taking a job with apps-builder Heroku and is also being recruited as a strategic adviser by Babbel.

Babbel, headed by Markus Witte, claims more than 8 million downloads of its smartphone applications and claims to have tripled its business in the past year.  PlaySay was a finalist in the 2011 TechCrunch Disrupt show and claims status as a popular app download in the U.S. and other countries, but Meinzer had recently told friends he was looking to sell the business.

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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