Safeguard Scientifics fires 15, about half its staff

Stephen Zarrilli is president and chief executive of Safeguard Scientifics, which laid off around half of its staff this week.

Safeguard Scientfics Inc., a Radnor investor in technology firms, fired 15 people this week, about half of its staff, as part of a plan to stop investing in new companies while focusing on supporting and selling existing investments in order to distribute money to shareholders.

The company, which traces its roots to 1953 and was among the Philadelphia region’s highfliers during the 1990s internet bubble, did not say explicitly that it was going out of business, but that is what it sounded like in a news release Wednesday: “The company has not set a timetable for completion of the monetization and distribution process.”

Safeguard’s ownership interests and advances in 26 partner companies were valued at $138.7 million on Sept 30, down from $183.5 million at the end of 2016.

“As we evaluated the best path forward for Safeguard, we concluded that a focused set of actions to maximize the realization of value from our assets is in the best interest of our shareholders,” Stephen T. Zarrilli, Safeguard’s president and chief executive said.

The personnel and other cost cuts are expected to save $5 million to $6 million annually. Corporate expenses last year were about $17 million. The stock closed at $12.20, up $1.35 or 12.44 percent.