Around the State
Levitz Furniture (NYSE-LFI) filed for reorganization under Chapter 11. Levitz will close its East Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville stores, as well as some stores in other states. A $260 million commitment from a group of lenders should allow the company to operate day-to-day.
FORT LAUDERDALE -
Terrace Holdings (Nasdaq-THIS), parent company to food makers and distributors, has an agreement to buy Miami-based dry goods distributor Bay Purveyors. Terrace expects combined annual revenues of more than $35 million.
Broward County may soon get its first major African American-owned hotel. Commissioners gave the go-ahead after the developer agreed to sever ties with the National Baptist Convention U.S.A., whose president, Rev. Henry Lyons, faces investigation into his financial dealings. The $63 million, 500-bed convention hotel must still receive zoning and land-use approvals.
Broward County plans to sell about $260 million in bonds, mostly to finance expansion at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Some $190 million will be used to construct a nine-gate terminal, 4,800-car garage, a storage facility and a new entrance roadway.
MIAMI - Continucare Corp. (AMEX-CNU), a provider of outpatient rehabilitation services, has agreed to buy four healthcare service companies for $19 million. The acquisitions will add about 250 employees and 200,000 patients.
MasTec (NYSE-MTZ), a telecommunications firm, acquired AIDCO Inc. of Chino, Calif. AIDCO operates primarily in the West and Midwest, where it is a reseller of fiber optic cabling systems.
SUNRISE - Kellstrom Industries (Nasdaq-KELL) enters the military market with an agreement to purchase privately held Aero Support, a reseller of military helicopter jet engines. Kellstrom, which sells commercial aircraft engines, will pay $13.7 million in cash, plus warrants, for Aero.
WEST PALM BEACH -
Television behemoth Paxson Communications (AMEX-PXN) agreed to sell a 70% interest in The Travel Channel to Discovery Communications for $20 million in cash, a 30% ownership interest and an annual fee. Separately, Paxson agreed to buy television stations in North Carolina, West Virginia and Arizona. Paxson reaches about 60% of U.S. households and owns or operates more than 60 TV stations. Fleet Financial Group has an agreement to buy Quick & Reilly (NYSE-BQR) for an estimated $1.6 billion. The nation's third largest discount brokerage firm, Quick & Reilly will retain its name, operate independently and act as Boston-based Fleet's delivery system for consumer investment products.
A Sweeter Deal...
...led publicly held Savannah Foods & Industries, the nation's second largest sugar refiner, to reject an offer from the Fanjul family, but ongoing industry consolidation spells more deals ahead for Florida's sugar cane giants.
The Fanjuls hoped to merge their 180,000-acre Flo-Sun Inc. operation in Palm Beach County with Savannah Foods, a $1.2 billion-a-year (sales) refiner best-known for its Dixie Crystals products. Savannah investors thought the price too cheap, and the company accepted a higher offer from a Texas refiner.
Don't expect the story to end there. Last year's federal farm legislation did away with restrictions on production designed to limit domestic sugar supply, allowing sugar companies eager for market share to expand freely. In addition, anticipating that Congress eventually will do away with sugar import quotas, companies are scrambling for alliances that will make them more efficient. That explains why Florida's other mega-producer, Clewiston-based U.S. Sugar, is building its first refinery and has joined a national marketing cooperative of beet sugar producers to sell its refined cane sugar.
Judy Sanchez, a U.S. Sugar spokesperson, predicts more such moves for U.S. Sugar and also the Fanjuls. "You're going to see the large players doing what it takes to keep their companies competitive."
Flo-Sun says it will continue to pursue vertical integration - controlling the business from crop to supermarket shelf. Look for an alliance with another refiner, or with a beet sugar producer, or both, predicts Dick Miller, editor of the weekly newsletter Sugar y Azucar. - Lisa Gibbs