Articles

Marsh merger muddied: Federal filings show grocer wants to ponder richer offer, but legalities might prevent it

A new federal filing suggests Marsh Supermarkets Inc.’s board wants to negotiate with a second potential buyer, even though it’s already agreed to be sold to a Florida private equity firm. The original buyer, Boca Raton, Fla.-based Sun Capital Partners, says merger talks with the new suitor, a partnership between Dallasbased Cardinal Paragon Inc. and New Yorkbased Drawbridge Special Opportunities Advisors LLC, would violate the agreement already in place unless Sun Capital grants Marsh permission to enter the discussions. And…

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Commercial real estate brokers can now file liens: New law to help resolve commission disputes

Commercial real estate brokers have a new weapon in disputes over unpaid commissions. A state law that goes into effect July 1 gives them the right to file a legal claim against property, known as a lien, when they think they’re due commissions that haven’t been paid. Previously, their only option was to take the more drastic step of filing a lawsuit. “Where it’s less than a $50,000 commission, it’s just not practical to file a lawsuit to recover fees,”…

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Conrad high-rise condos sell fast: Only 4 of 15 residences left; biz leaders among buyers

Eli Lilly and Co. President John Lechleiter is among the wealthy buyers who have snapped up all but four of the 15 private residences perched atop the Conrad Hotel downtown. Lechleiter will be on the 23rd floor, one level from the top. Pete Piazza, president of Piazza Produce Inc., will be on the 22nd. And insuranceindustry executive Jack Mead will be on the 21st. The 15 residences fill the top six floors of the new $100 million tower. They start…

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Plug in professionals when tasks seem overwhelming:

Running a small business is daunting, to say the least. Small-business owners wear many hats and are expected to be a master of everything: from hiring workers to coordinating group health coverage, from developing marketing materials to hitting sales goals, from assessing technology needs to making tax and insurance payments, from issuing invoices to paying vendors-all while keeping an eye on cash flow. Whew. Larger businesses may rely on individuals or entire departments responsible for each task. For small-business owners,…

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PROFILE ALEX INTERMILL: Life is an ongoing adventure for local attorney

PROFILE ALEX INTERMILL Life is an ongoing adventure for local attorney As an attorney, Alex Intermill is used to the hectic pace of corporate law. So you’d think that in his spare time, he’d just want to kick back and relax. You’d be wrong. The 33-year-old is an environmental and real estate attorney with Indianapolis-based Bose McKinney & Evans as well as the town attorney for Pendleton, in Madison County. He gets his adrenalin pumping by competing in mountain bike…

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Standard Life turns page, rolls with changes: A year after sale, firm improves rating, makes profit

Standard Life Insurance Company of Indiana has much to celebrate as it passes the one-year anniversary of its sale to Capital Assurance Corp. Profitability, a rating upgrade and product launches all are among the positives the company can tout since it gained new life and left behind old owner Standard Management Corp. last June. Standard Life notched a $15.8 million profit last year, due mostly to a gain from the sale of its life insurance business. Subtract that, though, and…

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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Wanted: a broader view on public-policy issues

There’s nothing wrong with self-interest in politics. We elect representatives to look out for our interests, after all. So when legislation and policies affect things that matter to us-especially if it’s a matter of financial interest-many of us squawk, scream or otherwise throw a fit. And we hope to get noticed. But in policy debates in Indiana in recent years, we’ve been getting lazy. It’s easy enough to defend your interests, of course, but it’s much harder to convince those…

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Vacancies and sales spike at Circle Centre: Analysts say mall attracting higher-end shoppers

Vacancies at Circle Centre mall hit a five-year high in 2005. But so did salesper-square foot. How does one reconcile the discrepancy? Observers say the mall is luring more high-end consumers with trendier shops despite having a big chunk of open space. “They’ve been incorporating and attracting more productive and upscale retail concepts,” said Terry Sweeney, vice president of real estate development for Indianapolis Downtown Inc. The 10-year-old mall posted $393 in sales per square foot in 2005, up from…

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Illinois Building in danger?: Preservationists fear for landmark’s future; owner mum on its fate

After sitting vacant for at least three years, the Illinois Building at the southeast corner of Market and Illinois streets is gaining attention as one historic preservation group tries to forestall any plans that might include tearing it down. The Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana added the building to its “10 Most Endangered” landmarks list earlier this year. The group said it’s ringing the alarm bells due in part to what Landmarks employees are hearing. “We have heard from a…

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BULLS & BEARS: Nation’s hefty trade deficit puts value of dollar at risk

Whenever anyone starts talking about foreign currencies and the U.S. dollar, you can usually see eyes-including mine-glazing over. Nevertheless, now may be a particularly useful time for investors to gain awareness on this topic. Currently, a number of wise investment thinkers share a growing concern that the U.S. trade deficit, currently running at an unprecedented 7 percent of GDP (the country’s output of goods and services), will eventually trigger a dollar decline. At Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting a couple of…

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Stringtown-the next downtown success story?: Trio of real estate investors are betting on the burg

Drive around the roughly 50 blocks of Stringtown, a small, working-class neighborhood on the city’s near-west side, and you’ll come across some cute, rehabbed, two-bedroom houses for rent. But there are also signs of neglect-boarded-up houses with siding falling off, cars up on blocks, and broken windows. In the neighborhood just west of White River and the Indianapolis Zoo, a few real estate investors are wagering that the tight-knit district is ready to blossom. The burg stretches from the river…

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Crown Hill nearing new deal: About 70 acres expected to sell for $5.2M

An announcement on new development for 70 acres of woodlands held by Crown Hill Cemetery and Funeral Home may come within weeks, bringing to a close a controversial land deal that some environmental and neighborhood groups hoped to stall. Crown Hill leadership is talking with three developers that have submitted competing proposals for mixed-use projects, cemetery President Keith Norwalk said. He declined to name the developers or provide details on their proposals but called an announcement “fairly imminent.” The price…

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Purchase offer expected for Winona Hospital: Three interested parties check out empty facility

Vacant Winona Memorial Hospital could attract a written purchase offer as soon as this summer, and at least three potential buyers are already researching a deal. Among the property’s attributes are a layout that’s well-suited for health care uses, said Gus Miller, a principal with NAI Olympia Partners, an Indianapolis real estate firm listing the site for $8 million. But the layout, with ceiling heights of only 8 feet, also limits the former hospital’s appeal to businesses outside health care….

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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: Investors often end up being their own worst enemies

In recent years, an increasing number of researchers, particularly in the field of psychology, have come to believe that investors undermine their investment and financial goals through such emotionally biased-even irrational-behaviors as overconfidence, a herd mentality, bias toward recent market results, and an excessive aversion to risk. Eliminating such biases is difficult, but investors can mitigate their impact by following several time-tested investing and financial planning principles. Think long term Invest for the long term. Investing in riskier assets, such…

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CHRIS KATTERJOHN Commentary: Now we have a plan-let’s use it

For years, Indiana politicians-at least the smart ones-have talked about the importance of economic growth and development, and behind the scenes business leaders have replied, “Duh. How about coming up with some kind of plan?” This was always a hot button for Dave Goodrich, retired real estate executive and former head of Central Indiana Corporate Partnership. In his days at CICP, Goodrich would bend the ear of anyone willing to listen about the need for a plan. Well, how does…

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Daniels’ economic development plan calls for pricey tools: Three incentive funds would cost more than $100M

Indiana’s days of economic development on the cheap may soon be finished. Three major new business-incentive funds are on the Indiana Economic Development Corp.’s wish list, each bearing a significant price tag. The General Assembly will decide next year whether to provide the more than $100 million IEDC requests to form them. Plans for the three funds are tucked into Gov. Mitch Daniels’ comprehensive new state economic development plan, “Accelerating Growth,” released April 25. It aims to bring Hoosiers’ lagging…

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BEHIND THE NEWS: California investor arrives with a splash-and a past

Remember the name Judah Hertz. The Californiabased real estate investor last month became a sizable player in the downtown Indianapolis office market, buying the Gold Building and 251 East Ohio for more than $40 million. But he has bigger aspirations here-and the cash to carry them out. “We like Indianapolis a lot,” Hertz said. “We’re definitely interested in purchasing more buildings in Indianapolis.” Plain-vanilla pension funds buy and sell buildings here all the time. By contrast, the 56-year-old Hertz is…

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BULLS & BEARS: Marsh, Suros deals a study in how to value businesses

Two recent Indianapolis business deals have provided local investors with excellent case studies in business valuation. What is truly instructive is that these acquisitions are polar opposites based on the valuation methods employed and in the future expectations the buyers have for these two businesses. They are the announced purchase of Marsh Supermarkets Inc. for $88 million by Florida-based Sun Capital Partners and the acquisition of Suros Surgical Systems for $240 million by Massachusetts-based Hologic Inc. In the Marsh acquisition,…

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New funds target life sciences: MidPoint concentrates on agricultural technology; Heron aims at broader market

Two new locally based venture capital funds believe Indiana is ripe with opportunity for biotech deals. With $20 million under management, Heron Capital LLC is broadly focused on the whole Hoosier life sciences market. Attempting to raise $30 million, the Mid-Point Food & Ag Fund LP has a narrower concentration: high-technology related to farming and nutrition. “We’re very excited about our prospects,” said Heron Managing Director Greg Maurer. “We have a number of deals in the hopper, some of which…

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Land drove Marsh sale: Sun Capital has backup in real estate if grocery biz fails

When Marsh Supermarkets Inc. put itself on the block in November, the company’s stock dove. When it cut future executive compensation $28 million a month later, the stock continued falling. When it terminated 25 executives and closed two groceries and six convenience stores, shares slipped yet again. Nothing, it seemed, could stop the downward spiral. Then a footnote appeared in the Fishersbased company’s fiscal third-quarter financial report Feb. 21. It said an appraisal showed the company’s real estate was worth…

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