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Regional Report Charlotte January 2011


Execs eschew core’s value

Business in North Carolina doesn’t get any bigger than in downtown Charlotte. It has the tallest buildings and the largest company: Bank of America Corp. But downtown isn’t where all the action is. Of the 13 Fortune 1000 companies based in the Charlotte region, just three — BofA, Duke Energy Corp. and Ruddick Corp. — have their corporate offices downtown. Two are near the airport, two are in tony South Park, and two more are in Ballantyne, a massive mixed-use development on the far south side. Ballantyne is home to two recent additions — Carlisle Cos., which moved to the Queen City from Syracuse, N.Y., in 2001 and SPX Corp., which relocated from Muskegon, Mich., in 2002 and is growing. In November, it announced plans to add 180 jobs, starting in 2012, that will pay an average of $83,000 a year and boost the headquarters head count to 430. The manufacturing conglomerate could receive more than $9 million in state and local incentives if it meets and maintains job targets.

CHARLOTTENewDominion Bank hired John Hipp as CEO to help it comply with a regulatory consent order. The bank lost $5.3 million in 2009 and says it must raise capital and establish new credit procedures. Former CEO Bradley Thompson will concentrate on business development. Hipp helped turn around Rock Hill National Bank in South Carolina in the 1990s.

SHELBYFAS Controls, which makes switches and sensors for the automotive industry, plans to add 50 jobs within a year, bringing employment here to more than 200. The company also will spend $1.5 million on plant improvements.

HICKORYBraddington-Young will close its furniture factory and headquarters in Cherryville this month, eliminating 26 jobs and sending 90 to its factory here. That will boost the total to 165. The company, part of Martinsville, Va.-based Hooker Furniture, says its lenders told it to consolidate operations.

CHARLOTTE — Tan Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. agreed to pay $100 million to New York-based Citigroup to end a legal battle over its 2008 purchase of Wachovia. Citigroup, which reached an agreement to buy Wachovia first, originally sought more than $60 billion in damages.

CHARLOTTE —  The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association agreed to a three-year extension that will keep the conference’s basketball tournament here through 2014. The move is a break from the CIAA tradition of moving the event every six years. Queen City officials estimate that the tournament generates $20 million in economic benefits for the city.

CHARLOTTESwisher Hygiene, which provides cleaning services, acquired seven companies for a total of $11.8 million in the second half of 2010, expanding in Florida, the Midwest and other markets. The company went public this summer through a merger with Canada-based CoolBrands International.

SALISBURYPiedmont Community Bank Holdings, a Chapel Hill-based company formed by Scott Custer, former CEO of RBC Bank, plans to buy Community Bank of Rowan from Lansing, Mich.-based Capitol Bancorp. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. As of Sept. 30, the bank had $149.5 million in assets.

CHARLOTTE — Hugh McColl III, son of the retired Bank of America CEO, and a business partner have launched Cantilever Capital, which will invest in hedge funds. McColl, an investment manager, was most recently employed by the hedge fund Round Table Investment Management.

CHARLOTTE — Upscale grocer Whole Foods Market plans to open its first Queen City store in 2012. The Austin, Texas-based company made a similar announcement in 2004, but plans for that store fell through. The Charlotte store is one of nine Whole Foods plans to open in 2012, including its first Greensboro location.

CHARLOTTE — Federal regulators approved Blue Ridge Holdings’ “shelf charter,” meaning the company can begin bidding for banks. It has raised $500 million.

At least four shareholders sued to block the $3.9 billion sale of Hickory-based CommScope to Carlyle Group. One suit filed in late November alleges that the company’s executives and board failed to seek the best price for the cable maker and will benefit from the sale at the expense of shareholders. Carlyle Group, a Washington-based private-equity company, agreed to pay $31.50 per share, about 36% more than the closing price before sales talks were confirmed.

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