Inland Retail Real Estate Trust Inc., of Oak Brook, Ill., has apparently reached an agreement with Continental Real Estate Co. to acquire all the retail facilities at the Waterfront complex for $123.5 million. Although neither Inland or Continental would confirm the sale, a real estate source said a sales agreement for that segment of the $300 million mixed-used complex in Homestead, West Homestead and Munhall, has been reached. Rick Fox, an Inland spokesman, said “we are definitely interested in several properties in the Pittsburgh region, but our policy is not to reveal the names or location of these properties until a deal has been concluded.” Frank Kass, chief executive officer of Continental Real Estate Co., of Columbus, owner-developer of the Waterfront, was unavailable for comment. However, he has stated in the past that his company policy is to sell its holdings when the opportunity arises.
Utility shares fall
Allegheny Energy Inc. shares fell after the utility company reported a $632.7 million loss for 2002 and said its auditor had “substantial doubt” the company can stay in business. Hagerstown, Maryland-based Allegheny Energy, which serves 690,000 power customers in Pennsylvania, fell 17 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $8.76 after plunging as much as 14 percent in the opening minutes of trading. The shares have fallen by one-third in the past year. The disclosures were made after the end of stock trading yesterday in the company’s annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing had been delayed by the discovery of accounting errors last year.
ISG chief’s alliance
The chairman of industry heavy weight International Steel Group Inc. is leading an alliance of steel and other manufacturers that he says will fight to protect American jobs. Wilbur Ross, chairman of Cleveland-based ISG, said the Free Trade for America Coalition has brought together a wide range of industries and unions. The coalition plans to use television ads and lobbying to promote its position on international trade policy. Ross and his partners blame other Republican administration policies and previous trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement for soaring trade deficits and the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs.
Alcoa delays shutdown
Alcoa Inc. will postpone the Oct. 1 closing of a smelter in Ferndale, Wash., for 15 days as state officials try to negotiate a smaller increase in power rates to keep it open. The Bonneville Power Administration, which supplies electricity to the plant, will raise its rates after Alcoa’s power supply agreement with the agency expires on Sept. 30. In response, Alcoa said in July it would close the smelter and fire 615 workers. The shutdown will now take place starting Oct. 15 if no agreement is reached, Pittsburgh-based Alcoa said in a statement.
Nova to buy shares
Nova Chemicals Corp., which has its U.S. headquarters in Pittsburgh, will use some of the $597 million raised from asset sales in 2003 to repurchase shares that have dropped by more than 17 percent from a year ago. The Canada-based company is anticipating a rebound in chemical demand as the growth in the global economy accelerates, Chief Executive Jeffrey Lipton said in an interview. Nova in June raised $462 million by selling its 37 percent stake in Methanex Corp., the world’s largest marker of a chemical used in paint strippers and windshield antifreeze. It also sold an Alberta natural-gas storage facility for $135 million in the quarter.
Koppers names CFO
Koppers Inc. named Brain H. McCurrie chief financial officer. McCurrie, who is currently CFO of Pittsburgh-based Union Switch & Signal, will join Koppers in mid-October. He replaces Don Davis, who left the company in June to pursue other business interests.
Furnace work starts
Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. broke ground Friday for a $114.9 million electric arc furnace at its Mingo Junction, Ohio plant. Funding for the furnace came as part of the company’s bankruptcy reorganization earlier this year. Wheeling-Pitt was the first of more than 30 companies to emerge from bankruptcy protection brought on by a flood of cheap steel imports in the late 1990s.
Defense funds OK’d
The U.S. Senate approved on Friday defense spending bills that included funding for a variety of local firms and programs. Included in the legislation was $4.1 million for the National Center for Defense Robotics’s Robotics Foundry in Pittsburgh, $7.4 million for aluminium-related projects by Alcoa Inc., $1 million for non-lethal technologies research at Pennsylvania State University and $1 million for a unique catheter in development by Alung in Allegheny County.
Other business news