Daily Business Report-Sept. 21, 2015
PetSmart has not yet been given access to Petco’s confidential information.
Petco Begins Merger Talks With Rival PetSmart
Petco Holdings Inc is exploring the possibility of being acquired by PetSmart Inc, according to people familiar with the matter, in a merger that could create a company that accounts for 30 percent of U.S. pet specialty supplies stores.
The preliminary talks between the two private equity-owned companies come after PetSmart ruled out a deal with Petco last year in favor of a sale to a buyout consortium led by BC Partners Ltd for $8.7 billion, including debt.
PetSmart believed at the time that a deal with Petco might not have received antitrust clearance and was reluctant to disclose confidential information to its biggest competitor, a PetSmart regulatory filing revealed in January.
Petco’s private equity owners, TPG Capital LP and Leonard Green & Partners LP, registered the company for an initial public offering last month that could value it at between $5 billion and $6 billion, including debt.
They are simultaneously exploring an outright sale of Petco, and are in talks with several private equity firms, including Apollo Global Management LLC and Bain Capital LLC, about such a deal, the sources said this week.
TPG and Leonard Green have now started informal talks with PetSmart in the hope of fetching a higher price for Petco, the sources said. PetSmart has not yet been given access to Petco’s confidential information, and there is no certainty that talks will progress and a deal between the two will be successfully negotiated, the sources added.
Based in San Diego, Petco had approximately $4 billion in sales in the 12 months to Jan. 31. PetSmart, based in Phoenix, Ariz., had net sales of $7.1 billion in the 12 months to Feb. 1.
California Has Strongest
Job Market in Nation
Orange County Register
California was the nation’s strongest jobs market in August, federal employment statistics released Friday show.
California employers had 16.19 million workers on their payrolls in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job count, tallied from a survey or employers, was up 36,200 from July, the largest monthly increase of any state — followed by Florida, up 19,600, and Ohio, up 14,600.
Nationwide, 173,000 jobs were created in August. Employment was up in 32 states vs. July and decreased in 18 states and the District of Columbia. The largest monthly employment drops were in New York and Texas, each down 13,700 jobs.
In the last 12 months, California bosses have added 470,000 jobs — also the nation’s largest year-over-year hiring spree. That was followed by Florida, with 261,500 new jobs, and Texas, where 217,700 jobs were added.
Synthetic Turf Expected To Reduce Water
Usage by More Than 196,000 Gallons Per Year
EasyTurf has completed an 8,700-square-foot synthetic turf replacement for the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista — a project costing more than $100,000 that is expected to reduce water usage by more than 196,000 gallons per year.
Approximately 8,700 square feet of natural grass was removed in the theater’s main audience seating area, which features a combination of fixed row seats and open space for lawn chairs and picnicking.
Moonlight’s previous natural grass lawn required considerable water and maintenance throughout the theater’s busy summer season, often including time-consuming hand-watering to combat brown spots and dying grass during some of the driest years on record.
The new EasyTurf lawn stays green and perfectly manicured year-round while eliminating the need for irrigation and routine maintenance such as mowing, fertilizing, and aeration.
The City of Vista has applied for a rebate through the San Diego County Water Authority and hopes to recoup a sizeable portion of the grass-replacement costs. The WaterSmart Turf Replacement program offers eligible residents, businesses and public agencies $1.50 per square foot to replace natural turf with water-efficient landscaping options better suited to the county’s semi-arid climate.
UCSD Granted Nearly $638,000
To Research Microbial Cells
City News Service
The Department of Justice awarded nearly $638,000 in federal grant money to UC San Diego to investigate the potential of microbial cells as DNA evidence at crimes scenes.
The human body is covered in billions of bacterial and fungal cells — collectively, microbial cells — that leave a “microbial fingerprint” on objects that are touched. Researchers have established that this transfer can associate objects with individual people, and that the microbial signatures are generally stable within a person, raising the potential that microbial fingerprints could provide important physical evidence.
However, several important barriers prevent the use of such evidence, according to UCSD.
The grant, awarded by the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs, will help researchers answer crucial questions, such as how long a person’s microbial signature remains on an object; whether the type of surface matters; how much contact is required to leave a microbial trace on an object; whether repeated touches by the same person reinforce or obscure the microbial patterns; what happens when multiple people touch the same object and microbial cells are mixed; and how death might alter a person’s microbial evidence, since microbes in the skin change after death.
A two-year, five-phase research project brings together the expertise of scientists at UCSD, University of Colorado, Argonne National Laboratory, Chaminade University of Honolulu and the City and County of Honolulu Department of the Medical Examiner.
The results will be disseminated through academic presentations, workshops, scientific articles and a video aimed at educating both forensic investigators and members of the public about the potential for use of microbial DNA evidence.
Scripps Research Institute Appoints
Chief Executive Officer and President
The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) announced the appointment of chemist Peter G. Schultz as CEO and biologist Steve A. Kay as president.
Schultz is currently a member of the TSRI faculty as well as director of the California Institute for Biomedical Research. He is also a successful entrepreneur and has led major drug discovery efforts in both the commercial and nonprofit sectors.
Kay, a former TSRI faculty member, is currently dean of the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California. His work has been highlighted in Science magazine’s “Breakthroughs of the Year” on three separate occasions.
Schultz assumes his role immediately, while Kay will begin as president-elect as he transitions from USC.
Schultz’s research is at the interface of chemistry and biology. He has pioneered technologies to make and characterize molecules and materials hundreds to millions at a time—work that has dramatically impacted science’s ability to create new medicines and materials.
An internationally renowned expert on genes and circadian rhythms, Kay has published more than 250 papers and was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2008 and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009. In 2010, he was awarded the UC San Diego Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Award for Excellence in Research.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney
Joins the Mintz, Levin Law Firm
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo is expanding its Litigation Section and launching a West Coast White Collar Defense practice with the addition of Randy K. Jones, former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of California. Jones joins the firm’s San Diego office as a member.
For the past 28 years, Jones has served as the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California in San Diego. He represented the United States in all phases of trial advocacy and litigation, from formal discovery to pre-trial settlement negotiation, expert witness preparation, federal grand jury proceedings and preparation and presentation of briefs and oral arguments before the U.S. Ninth Circuit of Appeals.
Jones began his legal career as a member of the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate Generals Corps, where he represented the Department of the Navy in various legal matters and counseled senior naval executives on commercial and litigation issues.
Coastkeeper Executive Director
To Leave for Another Position
San Diego Coastkeeper Executive Director Megan Baehrens will step down from the position on Oct. 2 to take a new job as senior director of collaborative philanthropy at San Diego Grantmakers. The organization’s board of directors has formed an executive director search committee and is reviewing applications.
“Megan’s vision has greatly improved fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County — from the expansion of hands-on science curriculum available countywide to innovative stormwater permits and pure water in the city of San Diego,” said Elizabeth Taylor, president of the board of directors.
Baehrens joined San Diego Coastkeeper’s development department in 2009, assuming the role of executive director in 2012.
Program Director Travis Pritchard, who has been with the organization for more than five years, will work with Board of Directors Treasurer Stewart Halpern to manage the organization until a new executive director is hired.
Bill Welch Resigns as Sequenom President and CEO
Bill Welch has resigned as Sequenom’s president, CEO, and director “to pursue other interests,” the San Diego-based company said today.
Dirk van den Boom is replacing him as interim president and CEO while retaining his role as chief scientific and strategy officer.
Welch became Sequenom’s CEO a year ago in June 2014, replacing Harry Hixson, who retired at the time. Welch had joined Sequenom in 2011 as senior vice president for diagnostics and became the company’s president and COO in 2012.
Van den Boom became Sequenom’s chief scientific and strategy officer in June 2014. Prior to that, he served as the firm’s executive vice president for R&D and CSO, and before that, he was senior vice president for R&D and CTO. He joined Sequenom in 1998 at the company’s Hamburg office in Germany. He holds a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Hamburg.
In Monday morning trade on the Nasdaq, shares of Sequenom were down 5 percent at $2.27.
Rancho Santa Fe Mansion
Goes on Auction Block on Oct. 17
A Rancho Santa Fe mansion designed by architect Jorge Engel — previously listed at $9 million — will be sold at auction on Oct. 17 to the highest bidder who meets or exceeds the auction’s reserve bid of $3.5 million.
Platinum Luxury Auctions is managing the sale in cooperation with listing agents Peter and Judy Corrente of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty..
The contemporary mansion is situated on three acres within the community of Rancho Farms Estates, a private, residential enclave that has 35 luxury properties.
The estate has more than 8,800-square-feet of living space, with five bedrooms, six full and two half-baths, a formal dining room, grand salon, gourmet kitchen, two living rooms and a formal office. Patios are located off of each main room, providing additional outdoor living space. There is also a built-in audio system that services both the interiors and the outdoor living areas.
Landscaped grounds include a Japanese garden and a reflecting pool. An upper, outdoor living area offers covered, patio dining and an adjacent summer kitchen, while the lower area offers a 75-foot saltwater pool with a built-in spa. The pool deck also includes a cabana bath, waterfall features, and a large lounge area flanked by architectural columns.
San Diego County Jobless Rate Dips
Nonfarm employment up by 1,700 jobs over the month;
up by 42,400 jobs over the year
The unemployment rate in San Diego County was 5.1 percent in August, down from a revised 5.4 percent in July 2015, and below the year-ago estimate of 6.6 percent, the state Employment Development Department reported today.
California’s jobless rate for the same period was 6.1 percent, while the nation’s jobless rate was 5.2 percent.
Between July and August:
Total nonfarm employment increased from 1,389,700 to 1,391,400, a gain of 1,700 jobs. Agricultural employment remained unchanged over the month.
• Educational and health services reported the greatest month-over gain, adding 1,800 jobs. Health care and social assistance increased by 1,900 jobs, which was offset by an employment decline in educational services (down 100 jobs).
• Four other sectors also added jobs over the month: Trade, transportation and utilities (up 1,500); financial activities (up 1,100); professional and business services (up 300); and government (up 200).
• The largest over the month decline was reported in leisure and hospitality (down 1,400 jobs) with all of the loss in accommodation and food services. Industries with employment declines were also reported in other services (down 600); information (down 500); manufacturing (down 400); and construction (down 300). Mining and logging remained unchanged.
Between August 2014 and August 2015:
Total nonfarm employment increased by 42,400 jobs, or 3.1 percent. Agricultural employment declined by 400 jobs, or 3.7 percent.
• Professional and business services recorded the greatest year-over gain, adding 11,500 jobs. Professional, scientific, and technical services (up 9,200) contributed to eighty percent of the job growth in this sector.
• Educational and health services increased by 8,000 jobs with almost ninety percent of the gain in health care and social assistance. Other month-over increases were reported in trade, transportation and utilities and leisure and hospitality (up 5,600 jobs each); government (up 3,600); financial activities (up 3,500); construction (up 3,300); manufacturing (up 1,900); and information (up 300).
• Two industries reported year-over job losses: Other services (down 800) and mining and logging (down 100).