Statewide: Charlotte region, January 2015

 In 2015-01

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Shipping out

A nearly 60-year-old Charlotte cargo-shipping company will cease operations and cut 60 jobs after selling part of itself to two competitors and halting shipping to Puerto Rico. Horizon Lines has struggled for several years because of an aging fleet, hefty debt payments and government sanctions for price-fixing. The company lost $18.3 million during the first nine months of 2014, compared with a loss of $17.8 million in the same period the year before. It reported assets of $628.3 million and $690.5 million in liabilities. The company will sell its Hawaiian shipping lines to San Rafael, Calif.-based Pasha Group for $141.5 million and will use proceeds to pay down debt. Honolulu-based shipper Matson will acquire the rest of the company, including its Alaskan shipping lines and the assumption of debt, for $456 million. The deals are expected to close this year. The company’s third line in Puerto Rico did not fare as well, with operations slated to close at the end of 2014. Horizon Lines has 13 vessels with an average age of 37 years. The company also needed to reduce ship emissions by 2020 at a cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Offers from Matson and Pasha were the ”most compelling option available,” says Mark Blankenship, vice president of human resources. The company, which once operated as Sea-Land Services and was owned by Jacksonville, Fla.-based railroad company CSX Corp., trades over the counter after Horizon Lines failed to meet necessary conditions of the New York Stock Exchange, prompting a delisting in 2011. That same year, it agreed to pay a $45 million fine after pleading guilty in a price-fixing scheme with competitors in its Puerto Rican trade.


Briefs

CHARLOTTECognizant Technology Solutions will invest more than $1.4 million and create 500 jobs statewide, including 150 here, by the end of 2018. Average salary for the jobs will be $79,559, about 57% higher than Mecklenburg County’s $50,610. The Teaneck, N.J.-based company provides consulting and business-process services for health care, financial and other industries. It employs about 1,500 here and in Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilson.

HUNTERSVILLEBurkert Contromatic will invest more than $22 million over three years and create 61 jobs at a new, 120,000-square-foot plant here. The Ingelfingen, Germany-based company will move operations and 66 employees from an existing Charlotte location. Average annual wage for the new jobs will be about $47,540, compared with Mecklenburg County’s $50,610. Burkert makes valves, sensors and other products used in medical and food-and-beverage-processing equipment.

CHARLOTTE — A federal regulator fined Bank of America $250 million for failing to prevent employee misconduct related to its foreign-exchange trading business. Along with traders from New York-based peers Citibank and JPMorgan Chase Bank, employees used online chat rooms to make plans to manipulate exchange rates for their own benefit.

CHARLOTTEDuke Energy received regulatory approval for a $500 million solar expansion. The utility based here will build three solar arrays totaling 128 megawatts in Bladen, Duplin and Wilson counties. Construction will begin early this year and will be complete by year-end. It’s expected to create 750 temporary jobs. As part of the agreement, Duke also will purchase power from five other North Carolina solar projects to be built and owned by other companies.

CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte City Council approved a $16 million renovation of Bojangles’ Coliseum, including $4 million for improvements that will allow the Charlotte Checkers to move its games there from Time Warner Cable Arena beginning in 2015-16. As part of a 10-year agreement with the minor-league hockey team, the city will add new seats, a video board and other hockey-related amenities.

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