Thursday, December 18, 2014

Archive: April, 2009

POSTED: Thursday, April 30, 2009, 2:45 PM
Eastern University, the Baptist-affiliated college based in St. David's on the Main Line, has leased 60,000 square feet to house a new charter school and consolidate its graduate urban studies program and other classes at Falls Center, the former Medical College of Pennsylvania complex now owned by 3300 Henry LP, an affiliate of Iron Stone Real Estate Group.
"It's a dramatic shift for them. It represents their committment to the city," said Iron Stone partner Jason Friedland. He wouldn't disclose the price. He said Fall Center's office space -- 300,000 square feet -- is now more than half leased, with tenants including St. Christopher's Pediatrics and Resources for Human Development, among others. Iron Stone is also developing housing and stores on the 12-acre site.
Eastern is moving programs now housed at 990 Spring Garden St. to the Falls Center, along with the new Eastern University Academy Charter School, which should open this year with an initial 102 students in Grades 7, 8, and 9, said Eastern spokeswoman Linda Olson. She said Eastern hopes eventually to grant college credits for courses at the Academy, under a plan developed by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.
Joseph N. DiStefano @ 2:45 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, April 30, 2009, 2:04 PM
"Chrysler LLC, the automaker that survived a near-death experience in 1979, filed today for bankruptcy protection to streamline operations and shed debt in a reorganization that includes Italy’s Fiat SpA as a partner," writes Bloomberg LP here.

Chrysler "missed a U.S. government deadline to come up with a restructuring plan by today that was rigorous enough to avoid bankruptcy and qualify for more bailout aid. The carmaker tried to negotiate an alliance with Fiat, reduce $6.9 billion in secured loans and cut $10.6 billion owed to a pension fund... Lenders refused... 

"The carmaker and the government plan to use the bankruptcy process to revitalize Chrysler by putting its best assets, such as its Jeep and Dodge Ram brands, in a new company that wouldn’t be burdened by current costs and debt. A slimmed-down version of Chrysler, armed with Fiat’s small-car technology, would emerge from such a process, giving the carmaker a “new lease on life,” U.S. President Barack Obama said today."

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 2:04 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, April 30, 2009, 12:09 PM
"Electronics customers are indicating some benefit  from the China stimulus package," and electronics sales will rise this year as a result, DuPont Co. chief executive Ellen J. Kullman told investors last week. And, while some other ag markets are flagging, China rice, fruit and vegetable growers are boosting purchases of DuPont's Rynaxypyr insecticide and other agri-tech. All that makes China an exception in a world of what Kullman calls "further deteriorating economic conditions."

Will China lead the world out of recession? "China is shovel ready!" argues economist Ed Yardeni. He cites, from Caterpillar's quarterly report: "China, with an economy one-third the size of the United States, is allocating over three times as much for infrastructure and initial results from this package look promising." And he notes United Technologies and Eaton, as well as DuPont, "are starting to see results from China's plan." 
Joseph N. DiStefano @ 12:09 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, April 30, 2009, 11:19 AM
As our colleague Suzette Parmley has noted, Donald Trump's Atlantic City casinos (among other things he owns) are in bankruptcy reorganizations.

But that hasn't stopped Trump from bragging he's raised enough millions to launch a string of "cash-and-grab" purchases of big, troubled developments in Scotland, reports the Scotsman newspaper here.
Joseph N. DiStefano @ 11:19 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, April 30, 2009, 4:30 PM

Ex-GE boss Jack Welch, in town this week to help promote wife Suzy's self-help book, 10-10-10, told me it has been bittersweet catching up with NBC local-television executives at stations like Channel 10 in Philadelphia. Eva Blackwell of Channel 10 had no comment.

"These people used to work for me," Welch said. (GE owns NBC. ) "They're really hurting. Local advertising has gone away. " Generally, local TV is "in worse shape than newspapers," Welch said.

Didn't Welch and a group of fellow wealthy Bostonians try to buy the Boston Globe a couple of years back? "We came close to buying the Red Sox, we figured they would throw in the newspaper," Welch told me. New York Times Co. owns both the Globe and a stake in the Sox.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 4:30 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, April 30, 2009, 3:37 PM

Eric Mayberry is out as publisher of the daily newspaper Metro Philadelphia, a free handout that litters Septa stops across the Delaware Valley, after he tried and failed to buy the paper from its parent company, Metro International. He won't be replaced, and the paper will be run from New York in the future, Mayberry tells me.

Mayberry says he's started a new firm, SmartBoy Enterprises LLC, "a media entertainment managing consulting company," which will lobby to help his old employer win a cut of state and city legal ads now reserved for paid papers like the Inquirer. He says he'll also write a column in the company's New York and Philadelphia dailies, subject "to be determined."

Mayberry "is leaving Metro Philadelphia in much better shape than when he arrived," said Metro International president Per Mikael Jensen in the statement Mayberry sent out. The ex-publisher said his company is also "creating a testing service and database of high school athletes," "I am not really a newspaper executive," Mayberry added in his statement.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 3:37 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, April 30, 2009, 3:23 PM

The banks that dominate the credit card business -- JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citi, American Express, Discover -- have cut back on new loans and boosted rates.

They're also under attack by Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration, who want limits on arbitrary rate hikes, as U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., told me this morning.

So why are Visa's profits and its share price rising? While the banks that use Visa make (or lose) billions on borrowers' interest payments (or defaults), the San Francisco-based credit card network gets paid a cut of every card transaction -- credit or debit, charge or default.

And nowadays, most people who use Visa cards aren't borrowing money, notes Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Leonard DeProspo. "For the first time," he told me, citing Visa's quarterly earnings report from last night. "U.S. debit card usage was greater than credit card usage...

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 3:23 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 1:51 PM
UPDATE: "All of humanity... is under threat," says World Health Organization leader. Bloomberg story here.
EARLIER: How bad's this swine flu really? "We don't know yet. That's a question for epidemiologists. But for our clients, we have to advise them like this is it," says Christopher Falkenberg, a former U.S. Secret Service agent and Davis, Polk & Wardwell litigator who's head of Insite Security, NY, one of many firms trying to turn its anti-terrorism and -crime expertise to work in the potential health emergency.
If schools and workplaces are closed, "enabling people to work from home is about more than giving people laptops. It's about, how will your organization function? You can't replace all personal contact with online and email. Can you afford to stop corporate travel for twoweeks? You need to develop plans for that in advance," he added. Big recovery-logistics companies like SunGard Availability Systems, Wayne, are giving similar advice.
In Cherry Hill, Martin E. Schweig's Nuvilex is pushing its product Citroxin as an antiviral cleaner for hospitals, schools and airlines. "Nuvilex has proof of Citroxin's effectiveness in eliminating swine influenze virus and avian influenza virus on surface areas, but has not yet submitted Citroxin for EPA approval as an antiviral agent," the company said in a release. What's special about this stuff? Citroxin "is non-caustic and eco-friendly," though "we have not done comparative studies," says spokesman Pat Arand.
Add it all up... Typical flu "has a typical hospital mortality rate of between 5 and 10% depending on the strain of the virus and in the most severe seasons can get as high as 15%.  Currently based on the most recent figures provided in the news there are about 2,500 confirmed global cases of swine flu and there have been approximately 150 deaths.  Thus, so far, the swine flu has an estimated mortality rate well within 'normal' flu limits at roughly 6%," writes James Bibbings in his Hog Heaven column at

So, no pandemic. And yet, Bibbings adds, "consider the way the global financial markets have reacted to the news of the flu thus far... The travel and hospitality industries have been rocked, safe haven currencies (the dollar and yen) have risen, drug manufacturing stocks are up, energy has been down, most commodities are down, and hogs have absolutely been crushed.  With regard to hog prices falling does this even make sense, considering that the disease is passed from humans to humans, not from pigs to humans? ...It may be time to get long hogs..."

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 1:51 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
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.

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