Monthly Archives: August 2013

Health Management Associates insiders selling shares


With a new board voted in by Health Management Associates shareholders and a competitor ready to buy the company, HMA executives have been busy selling their shares in the Florida-based hospital operator.
HMA is the parent company of Knoxville-based Tennova Healthcare, which runs six hospitals in the Knoxville region.
Chief Financial Officer Kelley E. Curry, Senior Vice President-Finance Robert E. Farnham, and Senior Vice President and Controller Gary S. Bryant,are among those who have sold more than $11 million worth of shares in the past several days.
Curry was the big mover, selling more than 817,000 shares for more than $9 million from Aug. 16-Aug. 26.
HMA certified on Aug. 16 a shareholder vote to install a completely new board.
Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems announced July 30 that it would buy HMA for $7.6 billion, including assumption of debt.
Click here for Marketwatch report on stock sales
Click here for HMA’s announcement of new board.
Click here for Community Health’s purchase announcement.

Xinergy’s first South Fork shipment this week

Stockpiled coal

Stockpiled coal

Knoxville-based coal company Xinergy announced Tuesday it this week shipped the first train-load of coal from its recently completed load out facility at its South Fork mine in Greenbrier County, W. Va.
The $20 million coal prep and load out facility is key element in the Central Appalachian coal producer’s strategy for increasing production.
“We are extremely satisfied and proud today as we watched our vision to become a significant player in the metallurgical coal market come full circle from the concept stage to design, construction and now to the ultimate fulfillment of our first order. After approximately six months, we completed this project at our flagship mine on-time and on budget. Our first shipment this week was a monumental event for this Company. The efficiency of execution was exactly what we had planned for,” Xinergy President Bernie Mason said in a news release.
Xinergy operates mines in West Virginia and Virginia and sells coal to electric utilities, steelmakers, energy trading firms and industrial companies.
Click here for more from Xinergy.

15 Knox area companies make Inc. 5000

This January, 2010, photo shows Acqua-Chem President and CEO David Gensterblum in his plant where they build water purification units for a variety of applications.

This January, 2010, photo shows Aqua-Chem President and CEO David Gensterblum in his plant where they build water purification units for a variety of applications. Aqua-Chem made the 2013 Inc. 5000 rankings.

Knoxville area companies had another strong showing on this year’s Inc. 5000. Fifteen  area companies made the 2013 list released this week.
The Inc. list ranks the fastest-growing private companies in the country based on percentage revenue growth for the most recent three years.
Digital marketing company Pyxl Inc. was the highest ranked among local companies and the 19th fastest-growing company in Tennessee.
“We believe our growth and success is a testament to our dedicated and hard working team and the partnerships we have built with our incredible clients. With continued innovation and diligence we envision even more growth and expansion in our future,” Pyxl President Josh Phillips said in a news release.
Pyxl, which designs and develops custom websites, web applications and mobile apps, had 299 percent growth in the previous three years with $2.8 million in revenues in 2012.
Local Inc. 5000 companies represent a variety of industries, including advertising, restaurant supply, employee staffing, trucking, digital security, manufacturing and rehabilitation services.
In order of their ranking, the other area companies on the 2013 Inc. 5000 are (unless noted companies are based in Knoxville): KaTom Restaurant Supply, Kodak; M Force Staffing; StaffSource; Best Drivers, Alcoa; Tillman Companies; Strategic Consulting Services, Oak Ridge; Functional Pathways; Sword & Shield Enterprise Security; DesignSensory; Wintellect; BrakeQuip, Alcoa; Aqua-Chem; Securities Services Network and Saratoga Technologies.
More than 80 Tennessee companies made the rankings, including 24 based in East Tennessee.
Click here for the full Inc. 5000 list.

Fitch Ratings: HMA board ouster won’t immediately affect ratings


Health Management Associates’ ratings will not be immediately affected by a shareholder vote to replace the company’s board, ratings agency Fitch Ratings said in a statement released Monday.
HMA is the parent company of Knoxville-based hospital operator Tennova Healthcare.
“Fitch will review the ratings when there is better clarity on whether the shareholders are likely to approve the acquisition agreement with Community Health Systems (Community), as well as details of any plan by the new board to manage an operational turn-around of the company,” Fitch said.
Franklin, Tenn.,-based Community Health has struck a deal to buy Naples, Fla.-based HMA for a cash and stock deal valued at $7.9 billion, including assumption of debt.
Fitch Ratings also said it does not expect the new HMA board or the proposed sale to Community Health “to result in an event of default or acceleration of Health Management’s outstanding debt.”

HMA on Friday announced that a shareholder vote replace the company’s board had been certified. A majority of shareholders also approved the appointment of eight new board members nominated by HMA’s largest shareholder, hedge fund Glenview Capital Management.
The new board members are Steven Epstein, Mary Taylor Behrens, Kirk Gorman, Stephen Guillard, Joann Reed, John McCarty, Steven Shulman and Peter Urbanowicz.
Glenview, which is run by investment guru Larry Robbins, has been campaigning for months to replace the HMA board.
Glenview has said the Community Health purchase offer establishes a floor price and a new board should be able to negotiate a better deal.
Fitch Ratings questions whether a high purchase price is viable.
Community Health’s offer is “consistent with other transactions recently announced in the for-profit hospital space, most notably Tenet Healthcare Corp.’s planned acquisition of Vanguard Health Systems for $4.3 billion,” Fitch said.
The ratings agency added that negotiating a higher price “could be complicated by Health Management’s recently weak operating trends and regulatory issues.”
In its most recent financial report, Health Management said hospital admissions fell 6.7 percent in the second quarter.
Last month, Fitch place HMA’s ratings on “Negative Watch” following Glenview’s proxy solicitation to replace the board.
Click here for the Fitch Ratings website.
Click here for the HMA announcement.

Launch Tennessee picks 2 Knoxville companies


Two early-stage Knoxville companies — Vendor Registry and Survature — have been selected to participate in the first statewide demo day sponsored by Launch Tennessee, a public-private partnership created to foster development of entrepreneurship across the state.
Twenty companies will pitch their businesses to a panel of out-of-state investors on Aug. 27 in Nashville. From that group, 10 companies will be selected to participate in The TENN, a master accelerator program sponsored by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.
Survature is developing an online survey tool that reveals not only what the survey taker answered, but how and when they answered it using a patent-pending technology called Answer Cloud. Vendor Registry is the creator of a web-based vendor management tool that uses a database and notification system to link buyers and sellers.
The 20 participating companies represent Tennessee’s three grand divisions and are all graduates of the state’s nine startup accelerators.
“These 20 startups are an exceptional representation of the innovative and promising ideas emerging from Tennessee’s accelerator programs,” Launch Tennessee CEO Charlie Brock said in a news release. “From the quality and diversity of applications submitted across the state, it is apparent that Tennessee’s network of accelerators, which is unique in the nation and Launch Tennessee helps fund, is working well.”
The panel that will evaluate the businesses includes Sabeer Bhatia, chairman and CEO of Sabse/Jaxtr and founder and former CEO of Hotmail; John McIlwraith, managing partner at Cincinnati, Ohio-based Allos Ventures; John Greathouse, general partner at Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Rincon Venture Partners; Sig Mosley, managing partner at Atlanta, Ga.-based Mosley Ventures; Bob Crutchfield, partner at Birmingham, Ala.-based Harbert Ventures; and Mike Tatum, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Workbus.
The 10 selected companies selected will take a statewide bus tour to meet with some leading executives of Tennessee corporations and angel and venture capital investors throughout the state. The TENN companies also will meet with venture capitalists and angel investors in California and the East Coast, according to a news release.
Click here for a Greater Knoxville Business Journal story on Survature and Vendor Registry.

Scripps Networks loses domain name battle — again


What’s in a name? A lot, if it’s on the Internet, says Scripps Networks Interactive Inc.
For the second time in recent weeks, the Knoxville-based lifestyle media  company has lost an effort to control a top level domain name,
Scripps most recently lost a “legal rights objection” filed against Google for use of the .diy domain name, according to the trade publication Domain Name Wire.
Scripps owns the home improvement cable channel DIY Network and for obvious reasons would like to control the use of .diy on the Web.
However, the panel that rules on domain name disputes determined that DIY is a generic term and “it is in practice impossible to run a business in do-it-yourself products without using the letters DIY in a wholly generic, descriptive way…,” Domain Name Wire reported Monday.
Scripps previously lost a similar objection for use of the .food domain name.
The Food Network is another of Scripps popular cable channels.
The use of domain names is controlled by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and applicants for top level domain names must follow UDRP — the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy.
Click here for more from Domain Name Wire.

ProNova Solutions groundbreaking at Pellissippi Place


Knoxville medical sciences company ProNova Solutions will break ground Tuesday, Aug. 13, on a $52 million development in Pellissippi Place research and development park in Blount County.
The company previously announced the project would include an office and research building with an assembly and test area initially supporting 35 employees and growing to 110 by 2015.
Pronova is developing equipment for proton therapy, a form of cancer treatment that reduces collateral tissue damage, side effects and treatment costs compared to conventional radiation therapy.
The company will be the first tenant in Pellissippi Place and eventually expects to employ more than 500.
The groundbreaking is at 10:30 a.m. at the entrance to Pellissippi Place, 3007 Old Knoxville Highway in Maryville.
Pellissippi Place is a joint project of Knox and Blount counties and the cities of Alcoa and Maryville.
Two years ago this month, the R&D park was officially opened with a “lighting of the park” ceremony attended by some 200 business and political leaders from the Knoxville region.
Click here for more on Pellissippi Place.
Click here for more on ProNova Solutions.

Glenview Capital ignores HMA offer


The battle for control of Health Management Associates, parent company of Knoxville-based Tennova Healthcare, continues to be interesting corporate theater.
After initially saying no thanks, hospital operator HMA now says it will accept all eight of the new board members nominated by its largest shareholder, hedge fund Glenview Capital Management, “as long as the hedge fund is willing to retain two or three current directors,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The hedge fund run by investment guru Larry Robbins can even name the chairman, Naples, Fla.-based HMA said.
Glenview wasn’t impressed by the offer.
In a statement released Friday morning, Glenview trumpeted a report by corporate governance analyst Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., but mentioned nothing about the HMA offer.
The ISS report supports complete replacement of the existing HMA board.
“We appreciate that ISS is part of the broad and growing chorus of voices calling for complete change at HMA, and we believe ISS’s conclusions reflect not only HMA’s historical shortcomings but more importantly reflect the skill, sincerity, preparation and thoughtful approach of the eight nominees,” Glenview said.
Also interesting is that Glenview Capital holds major stakes in both HMA and Community Health Systems, the Franklin, Tenn.-based company that has offered to buy HMA for $3.9 billion.
Glenview is the largest HMA shareholder with a 14.6 percent stake and Glenview owns about 9.5 percent of CHS, making it the largest CHS shareholder.
Click here for The Wall Street Journal story.
Click here for HMA’s statement on the ISS report.

Should movie theaters cater to cellphone users?


Texting in a darkened movie theater used to be considered a serious breach of the movie-watching experience.
But bad manners could become the norm.
Blogger Hunter Walk recently sparked a fire storm with a post suggesting that movie theaters should cater to those who want to text and otherwise interact with the world while watching a movie.
“Instead of driving people like me away from the theater, why not just segregate us into environments which meet our needs. I’d love to watch Pacific Rim in a theater with a bit more light, wifi, electricity outlets and a second screen experience,” he wrote.
The San Francisco blogger received hundreds of comments — many, but not all, of them were negative.
Forbes media and entertainment contributor Scott Mendelson responded with a lengthy column on why Walk’s suggestion is a disturbing idea.
“It’s not just a blow against civilized movie-going, the ability to turn off the constant flow of digital information, and the idea that people should actually follow the rules of the establishments they choose to visit; it’s a blow for variety in the kinds of movies that arrive at a theater near you,” Mendelson wrote.
But Walk’s suggestion could gain traction.
The largest movie theater network in the country — Knoxville-based Regal Entertainment Group — recently held a special “interactive” showing of “Sharknado” in Los Angeles.
“Usually we ask guests to keep the cell phones off during shows and not to distract others. But for ‘Sharknado’ half the fun is sharing a reaction, and hearing a riff from someone else,” Regal senior vice president Neal Pinsker said in a news release.
The “Sharkanado” event may have been a success but I’m with Mendelson. Movie theaters should be texting-free zones — at least while the movie is on.
Click here for the Hunter Walk post.
Click here for Mendelson’s response.

Glenview Capital rejects HMA’s ‘hybrid’ offer


Community Health Systems wants to buy peer company Health Management Associates, parent company of Knoxville-based Tennova Healthcare, but getting the deal done may not be easy.
Major HMA shareholder, Glenview Capita Management, opposes the CHS offer and continues to push for an overhaul of the HMA board.
Glenview, which has a 14.6 percent stake in HMA, on Tuesday turned down HMA’s offer “to immediately add” Glenview nominees to the board, including one who would serve as chairman.
Naples, Fla.-based HMA made the offer in a statement released late Tuesday.
In a strongly worded statement released shortly after HMA’s news release, Glenview  rejected what it called a “hybrid” board, saying HMA shareholders are already considering the proposal for a completely new board.
“It would be inappropriate for Glenview to take any action which would circumvent Shareholders’ rights in this consent solicitation,” Glenview said.
Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health has offered to buy HMA for $3.9 billion, or $7.6 billion, including assumed debt.
Glenview Capital has called the CHS offer a starting point for getting greater value for HMA shareholders. How Glenview’s effort to revamp the HMA board will impact the CHS offer is uncertain. The purchase has been approved by the existing HMA board and the CHS board, but still must be approved by regulators and HMA shareholders.
Click here for the full HMA statement.
Click here for the full Glenview Capital statement.