PhillyDeals: Santorum quits board of Universal Health Services

Beneficial Bank could be a takeover target of First Niagara Bank, which is looking to buy a $1 billion-plus Philadelphia-area bank. This branch is on Main Street in Moorestown.
Beneficial Bank could be a takeover target of First Niagara Bank, which is looking to buy a $1 billion-plus Philadelphia-area bank. This branch is on Main Street in Moorestown. (APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 16, 2011

Ex-U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) has quit his post as a member of the board of directors of Universal Health Services Inc., the King of Prussia, for-profit hospital chain that relies on taxpayer-funded programs for more than one-third of its revenue, "as a result of his recent and formal announcement" that he's running for president of the United States, Universal said Wednesday.

Santorum is stepping away from a post that paid him $168,000 in cash and stock last year for attending board and compensation committee meetings.

His duties included approving a $10 million cash, stock, and insurance compensation package for Universal chief executive Alan B. Miller, according to a shareholders' proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Universal, like other for-profit hospital operators and insurers, has a big stake in the future of government-subsidized health care.

The company relied on taxpayer-funded Medicare and Medicaid payments for 38 percent of its $5.6 billion in sales last year, according to Universal's annual report, enabling the company to generously compensate executives like Miller and directors like Santorum.

The company collected profits totaling $230 million in 2010.

Banks in play

First Niagara Bank is looking to buy another $1 billion-plus Philadelphia-area bank, Jason O'Donnell, bank-stock analyst at Boenning & Scattergood in West Conshohocken, reports after a visit to the Buffalo company.

Surviving banks of similar size that could be buyout targets are Beneficial, Bryn Mawr Trust, Firstrust, and Univest National Bank & Trust, among others.

The company has hired a dozen new business lenders to finance business expansions in the region, O'Donnell notes in a report to clients.

Separately, ING Direct Bank, Arkadi Kuhlmann's $80 billion-asset online- and phone-based deposit-and-loan bank that employs 1,000 at its Wilmington headquarters, could be sold by its Dutch-Belgian owners as early as this week to satisfy European Union orders that were part of the company's bailout during the 2008 financial crisis.

Gossip in the investment-banker world has GE Finance, credit-card giant Capital One, and commercial lender CIT as possible buyers or partial investors in ING Direct.

Patents to spices

Reuben Canada's Jin-Ja soft drink (ginger, cayenne, lemon, mint, green tea, sugar, noncarbonated, nonalcoholic), brewed at the Rutgers Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton, N.J., retails for $16 per .75-liter bottle, $9 per .375-liter, which is two to three times as expensive as the wines I buy.

"It's a high price. We struggled. The first week, nobody bought it," says Ezekiel Ferguson , a manager at DiBruno's Co. at 930 S. Ninth St.

"But then we got him out here and did some samplings. And when people noticed the taste, all the strong flavors, we sold a ton of it. He sold three cases that Saturday. Then 21/2 cases that Sunday." That was in May.

Canada is also moving product through Essene Market & Cafe in South Philly, the Swarthmore Co-op, and, soon, the Whole Foods in Princeton, among other sites, he told me.

"We are on pace to outgrow the production capacity of our current facility - 10,000 cases a year - by the third quarter," Canada said.

Canada employs eight production workers on the bottling line, and has a staff of five salespeople.

He says he funded the business through his own savings - including timely investments in Sirius XM, the pay-radio company, and Lululemon Athletica Inc., the yoga-pants maker - as well as a couple of years of frugal living (no cable TV).

The tea-maker studied engineering at Swarthmore and worked for a time as a patent lawyer at Woodcock Washburn L.L.P.

"Patent lawyers are paper-pushers. But Reuben is very bright, he's eccentric, he's creative," said Nolan G. Shenai, a lawyer at Thorp Reed & Armstrong, who has been advising Jin-Ja.


Contact columnist Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5194 or JoeD@phillynews.com.

 

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