Behind the News columnist

A native of Kentucky, Andrews has worked at Hoosier newspapers since graduating from Indiana University in 1987. He covered education at the Journal and Courier in Lafayette before joining IBJ in 1991. He later was a business reporter and the business editor of The Indianapolis Star. He’s been writing his Behind the News column for IBJ since rejoining the newspaper in 2000. Andrews and his wife, Kathleen, have a son in college and another living in Colorado. They live in the Nora area with their two dogs.


BEHIND THE NEWS: Mergers may shake up Simon’s department-store mix Last supper

Big changes are brewing at the department-store chains that anchor Simon Property Group Inc.’s shopping malls in Indianapolis and across the nation. That may be good news for the company’s strong malls but bad news for its weak ones. The Wall Street Journal says Cincinnatibased Federated Department Stores Inc., parent of Lazarus-Macy’s, has rekindled negotiations to buy St. Louis-based May Department Stores, the underperforming parent of L.S. Ayres. Such a deal would be the latest in a string of shakeups…

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BEHIND THE NEWS: Setbacks smudge image of Obsidian CEO Durham Stock is down Snapping up firms

Tim Durham tells reporters he wants to be the richest man alive. His office sits atop the Bank One Tower, the state’s tallest building. For fun, he adds to his collection of four dozen collector cars. But behind the glitz, Durham is trying to untangle what’s become a real mess at Obsidian Enterprises Inc., the publicly traded manufacturing and transportation firm he controls and leads. In a regulatory filing last week, Obsidian’s independent accounting firm, Minnesota-based McGladrey & Pullen, expressed…

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Eco suit spawns flurry of litigation: Class actions hit Honeywell in wake of thermostat fight

Industrial powerhouse Honeywell International Inc. suddenly finds itself under siege by an army of aggressive class-action attorneys-all because it decided to mess with a couple of determined entrepreneurs from Lebanon. Attorneys from around the nation in recent months have filed six class action lawsuits in state courts charging New Jersey-based Honeywell used deception to obtain the trademark for its ubiquitous round thermostat, then used its lock on the round-thermostat market to overcharge customers. T h e l eg a l…

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BEHIND THE NEWS: Lawyers in big-biz cases get scolding from judges Taking stock of Lilly

Two big businessrelated cases are advancing toward trial, and the lawyers involved are getting nasty. At least that’s how it seems to the judges handling the cases, and they’re tired of it. In a Jan. 31 filing, federal Magistrate Judge V. Sue Shields gave a verbal spanking to attorneys for both Paul Harris Stores Inc. and the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. “All counsel are admonished that the court expects them to behave in a civil manner toward one another and to…

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BEHIND THE NEWS: Sales are sizzling at Steak n Shake Minting Managers Sticking with steakburgers

When shareholders of The Steak n Shake Co. gather for their annual meeting this week, expect a lovefest. Peter Dunn, who joined the company as president in September 2002 and added the title CEO last year, seems to be doing a bang-up job reinvigorating one of the nation’s oldest restaurant chains. Choose whatever measure you like: Since Dunn’s arrival at the Indianapolis-based company, Steak n Shake shares have appreciated 92 percent, whipping the 46-percent gain for the S&P 500-stock index….

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Dicks’ trust under attack: Conseco: Couple shielded $7.5M in Cook Islands

Conseco Inc. says former Chief Financial Officer Rollin Dick and his wife, Helen, set up a $7.5 million trust in a remote South Pacific island nation five years ago as part of a scheme to put family assets beyond the company’s reach. The trust in the Cook Islands has surfaced as an explosive new area of attack by Conseco attorneys trying to recover $97 million in principal and interest on loans Rollin Dick used in the 1990s to buy company…

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BEHIND THE NEWS: REIT run leaves analysts ‘worried and optimistic’Ex-executive settles with SEC

Mall developer Simon Property Group Inc. and many of the nation’s other top real estate investment trusts have earned investors huge returns since 2000, so huge that continued gains seem unlikely. Or do they? That’s the million-dollar question as investors close the book on 2004, one of the best years in the history of REITs. For the 12 months, Simon posted a total return of 47 percent, while REITs overall returned 31 percent. It was the fifth straight year REITs…

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BEHIND THE NEWS: Stay tuned: Gregg sale may be prelude to IPO

Out-of-towners are charging into Indianapolis to scoop up another one of our marquee companies. It’s an oft-told story, but this time it might just have a happy ending. Finance experts say Los Angelesbased investment firm Freeman Spogli & Co.’s purchase of an 80-percent stake in H.H. Gregg may position the electronics-and-appliance chain to grow faster than if it remained a familyowned company. Under the deal, veteran investment banker Robert Shortle said, “You still have the company headquartered here, the vast…

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BEHIND THE NEWS: Conseco now seeks assets from Hilbert’s Haverstick

Attorneys for Conseco Inc. have a new target in their legal assault a g a i n s t f o r m e r C E O S t e p h e n Hilbert. It’s Haverstick Consulting Inc., the Carmelbased company Hilbert now leads. In court papers filed last week in Hamilton County, Conseco attorneys charge that Hilbert and his wife, Tomisue, transferred millions of dollars into Haverstick in recent years but did not receive stock of equal…

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Regulators probe Galyan’s trades: Investigation reason for leave of absence for McDonald stockbroker Dave Knall

Securities regulators are investigating allegations of insider trading in Galyan’s Trading Co. stock before the company’s sale to Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. last summer, IBJ has learned. Sources said those under scrutiny include star Indianapolis stockbroker Dave Knall and his son James, who worked with his father at a McDonald Investments office on 96th Street in Indianapolis. Dave Knall, 60, one of the nation’s top-producing stockbrokers, has been on a voluntarily leave of absence from McDonald since Dec. 3. The…

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BEHIND THE NEWS: Payoff from Guidant sale disappoints some analysts New Warsaw public company More big Conseco pay

Guidant Corp.’s sale to Johnson & Johnson is valued at an eye-popping $25.4 billion, the largest price tag ever for an India n a p o l i s – b a s e d company. Even so, for shareholders the merger doesn’t create the euphoria often associated with mega-deals. Guidant shares barely moved on the first day of trading after New Jersey-based J&J announced the $76-a-share pact. Analysts say part of that is because investors already had factored expectations…

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