Thursday, May 30, 2024

Triangle: Securing a profit

On an investor conference call in November, PowerSecure CEO Sidney Hinton was asked if his Wake Forest-based company’s technology is poised to benefit from changing energy-industry trends. “I feel like somebody that’s 7-foot tall and standing by the volleyball net, and I just got the ball,” according to a transcript provided by Seeking Alpha. Giant Atlanta-based utility Southern Company shared that enthusiasm, offering $431 million, or $18.75 per share, for PowerSecure. The bid almost doubled the company’s previous day’s closing price.

The 900-employee company is attractive because its products are being used by some red-hot utility-industry businesses, with a backlog topping $400 million. PowerSecure makes distributed-energy systems — small devices that generate power for use by nearby customers. Renewable-energy sources such as solar and wind typically are used for distributed generation. The systems remain specks in the grand scheme of Southern and Charlotte-based Duke Energy, which rely on giant coal, gas and nuclear plants to produce electricity. But the specks are getting bigger in a hurry. PowerSecure’s revenues have tripled since 2010 to more than $375 million annually, with much of the recent increases coming from data centers and hospitals.

Hinton worked for Southern from 1982 to 1997 and later had a market-research post at Raleigh-based Carolina Power & Light, which is now owned by Duke. During a stint between jobs, he was an “executive-in-residence” at Carousel Capital, the Charlotte private-equity company co-founded by Erskine Bowles and Nelson Schwab. He holds PowerSecure shares worth more than $11 million based on Southern’s bid, according to his last public filing. Other Raleigh businessmen serving on PowerSecure’s board are Dale Jenkins, who is the CEO of Medical Mutual Holdings, a physician-owned insurance company, and Kent Geer, a retired partner at Ernst & Young. Duke wouldn’t say if it bid for PowerSecure, but a spokesman noted it has made investments in distributed-energy companies. 

CARY – San Francisco-based McKesson acquired privately held Biologics as part of a $1.2 billion deal that also included Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based Vantage Oncology. Founded in 1994, Biologics provides pharmaceutical services for cancer patients and employs about 375 people, including 366 in N.C.

CLAYTON – Grifols will invest $210 million to expand its local plasma plant. The Barcelona-based pharmaceutical company will open a purification plant by late 2021 and a plasma fractionation plant by 2022. Grifols is Johnston County’s largest private employer with about 1,600 workers. The company did not disclose how many jobs might be created.

RALEIGH – Valencell raised $11 million in a financing led by GII, a financial-services company based in the United Arab Emirates. The company, which develops technology for wearable electronics, has raised $24.5 million since it was founded a decade ago.

RALEIGH – Aseptia sold subsidiaries Troy-based Wright Foods and Biscoe-based Carolina Dairy to Evansville, Ind.-based AmeriQual Group Holdings for an undisclosed amount. Spun out of N.C. State University in 2006, Aseptia develops technologies to extend the shelf life of certain foods without preservatives.

SOUTHERN PINES – First Bancorp will exchange seven First Bank branches in Virginia for six First Community Bank branches in North Carolina. Four of the new branches are located in Winston-Salem, with one each in Huntersville and Mooresville. The branch exchange is expected to be completed in the third quarter.

DURHAM – Frank Tower was named division president of Square 1 Bank, which was sold in October to Pacific Western Bank in an $815 million deal. Tower joined Square 1, a lender to technology and life-sciences startups, in January 2014 as an executive vice president and is a founding partner of California-based venture firm Gold Hill Capital. He succeeds Doug Bowers as president.


N.C. State Treasurer Janet Cowell joined the board of directors of Morrisville-based ChannelAdvisor. Cowell, 47, has been state treasurer since 2008 and is not seeking re-election. Her term expires in January. Cowell will receive a $50,000 retainer plus stock valued at about $150,000. (Her state job pays $125,000.)  A former state senator and Raleigh city councilwoman, she previously worked for Corning, SJF Ventures and Lehman Brothers Holdings. She received bachelor’s, master’s and MBA degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

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