Wednesday brought word that Bensalem’s Charming Shoppes Inc. will be bought by New York-based Ascena Retail Group Inc. for $890 million. The deal led to Charming shares being the most active on the Nasdaq, rising 24 percent, or $1.41, to $7.31.
Naturally, Thursday started off with Exton’s Kensey Nash Corp. being swallowed by Netherlands-based Royal DSM for $334 million. That made the Chester County medical-device maker one of the biggest movers in the Nasdaq Composite Index, with shares closing at $38.33, up 32 percent, or $9.32.
What in Belmont Plateau is going on here?
Well, the easy answer is that each local company had something their buyers wanted. Energy Transfer coveted Sunoco’s extensive oil-pipeline and terminal networks. Ascena was wowed by Charming’s Lane Bryant chain of plus-size women’s clothing stores. And DSM saw Kensey Nash’s biomaterials business and its manufacturing and research and development operation as complements to activities in which it’s already engaged.
Plus, the “for sale” signs had been hanging outside Sunoco and Charming for quite awhile.
It was evident from DSM’s conference call with analysts that acquisitions are a key strategy that have built its annual revenues to 9 billion euros ($11.83 billion). With less than $100 million in annual revenues, Kensey Nash is a small morsel for DSM.
Still, I scratch my head over how often Philadelphia-area companies seem to be sellers rather than buyers. On April 11, URL Pharma Inc., a privately held specialty-drug maker, was won over by Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. with $800 million up front.
On April 26, Eusa Pharma Inc., which has its U.S. headquarters in Bucks County, dug the $650 million tune Ireland’s Jazz Pharmaceuticals P.L.C. played.
On Tuesday, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. completed the $834 million acquisition of Harleysville Group Inc. that had been announced Sept. 30.
Sure, there are transactions in which a local company is predator rather than prey: Valley Forge-based AmerisourceBergen Corp. said Tuesday that it completed its $520 million purchase of World Courier Group Inc., a Stamford, Conn., logistics company that services the global biopharmaceutical industry; Limerick-based medical-device maker Teleflex Inc. said Tuesday that it will buy the assets of Axiom Technology Partners L.L.C. for an undisclosed price.
And just because a local company is acquired doesn’t mean it will vanish from the region. Energy Transfer said it will keep Sunoco’s logistics and retail operations based in Philadelphia. Nationwide intends to maintain Harleysville property-and-casualty operations in Montgomery County.
No, I’m not panicking over this recent run of sales. But I do hope the buying and selling balances out a bit. I’d hate for this region one day to find itself master of many crafts but owner of none.
Contact Mike Armstrong at 215-854-2980 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or @PhillyInc on Twitter. Read his blog, “PhillyInc,” at www.phillyinc.biz.