PBT Transcript (5/07/2008)

MIKE ARMSTRONG:  Coming up – Pep Boys ex-CEO has a new gig, and it involves billionaire Michael Dell.  We’ll tell you what business could entice him to leave Manny, Moe, and Jack.  Forget Wi-Fi.  We’re gonna be hearing more about WiMAX.  Sprint, Nextel, and Clearwire are combining their wireless broadband networks, and there’s a local connection.  Also, the clock is ticking on a proxy fight that could mean changes to Charming Shoppes’ board.  We have the latest.  Philadelphia Business Today starts now. 

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MIKE ARMSTRONG:  Now we know why Jeff Rachor left Pep Boys last month.  He’s going to be the CEO of a new car dealership company backed by Dell Computer founder Michael Dell, and his private investment firm, MSD Capital.  Based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, this new venture sounds like a budding mega-dealer on the prowl to buy up auto dealerships.  Rachor headed the Philadelphia-based Pep Boys Automotive Parts and Service Chain for a little more than a year. 

The next generation of wireless Internet service called WiMAX got a big boost today.  Sprint, Nextel, and Clearwire are combining their wireless broadband networks in a deal that also involves some big names, including Comcast, Intel, and Google.  WiMAX promises faster download speeds than the networks currently run by cell phone operators.  Cable giant Comcast will contribute a little more than a billion dollars to the venture.  Intel will kick in a billion, and Google, $500 million.  Comcast hopes to sell the service as a premium product for customers who want fast on-line connections outside their homes or in their cars.

The fight between Charming Shoppes’ management and some dissident investors comes to a head tomorrow.  Two big New York hedge funds have been waging a proxy fight, seeking to get three people on the board of the Bensalem company.  They say the women’s apparel retailer has underperformed other chains.  Charming Shoppe’s management says the investors are looking to make quick fixes, rather than strategic changes.  Over the weekend, the company offered the dissidents one board seat, and it promised to expand the board, adding two new outside members after the annual meeting.  The hedge funds rejected the deal, and now the vote is in the share holders’ hands.

That’s it for today.  At The Inquirer, I’m Mike Armstrong for Philadelphia Business Today.

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