MetLife puts a premium on high-tech
Charlotte is known as Bank Town, but the Triangle is making a name for itself in the industry by blending financial services with its trademark — high-technology. The most recent example is New York-based MetLife Inc., which announced in March it would create about 2,600 jobs and invest $125.5 million in the state by the end of 2015. Half of that will be in Charlotte, where it will establish a retail hub, and half to Cary for a global technology and operations center. In return, the U.S.’s largest life-insurance company is eligible for state incentives of $94 million, including an $87.2 million Job Development Investment Grant, the largest since Fidelity Investments got $54.6 million to expand its Research Triangle Park campus in 2006. “This movement, MetLife to the Triangle, as well as Credit Suisse, Fidelity, Deutsche Bank, PNC, is adding to the financial sector in the Triangle to diversify its economic base,” says Michael Walden, an economist at N.C. State University in Raleigh. The jobs will be moved from New England and California, which have higher real-estate costs, as the insurer looks to slash annual expenses by $600 million. More than anything, Walden says, the announcement shows that the Triangle and Charlotte have left the other regions of the state far behind. “They’re our economic racehorses — nothing else compares.”
DURHAM — Cree introduced its first light-emitting diode bulbs for the retail market, debuting three varieties in Home Depot stores. The maker of energy-efficiency lighting previously sold LEDs only to commercial customers. The bulbs, which cost between $9.97 and $13.97, use 84% less energy compared with traditional ones and have a 10-year warranty.
WAKE FOREST — PowerSecure International purchased Huntersville-based Lime Energy’s energy-services subcontracting business, which helps make buildings more energy efficient, for $1.9 million. It will also assume $3.7 million in net liabilities. PowerSecure provides energy-technology services to companies and sells LED lights to customers such as grocery and drug stores.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Lenovo named Jay Parker president of North American operations. He succeeds Gerry Smith, whom the Chinese computer-maker named senior vice president and general manager for North America.
RALEIGH — Highwoods Properties bought two 10-story office towers in Tampa, Fla., for $56 million, including $3.5 million in planned renovations. They are about 87% leased and adjacent to a building the company bought in 2009.
MORRISVILLE — TearScience raised up to $70 million from Stamford, Conn.-based HealthCare Royalty Partners to fund the commercialization of its dry-eye treatments. The private medical-device company’s products also diagnose the condition.
CARY — The New York Stock Exchange notified Dex One in late February that it was not in compliance with listing standards because its market capitalization had dipped below $100 million for 30 consecutive trading days. The digital advertising and marketing company, which also publishes Yellow Pages, is merging with Dallas-based SuperMedia in an all-stock deal that Dex says will push its market cap above $150 million. Its shares will continue trading as it appeals the ruling.