November 21, 2014

Around the State

| 6/1/1997
Daytona Beach

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Team Rental Group (NYSE-BD) announced the sale of 7.5 million shares, at $21.625 a piece, in a public offering. The sale will raise about $154 million, which the company will use to pay for its recent $350 million acquisition of Budget Rent a Car from Ford Motor Co. Budget Rent a Car, renamed Budget Group, is the country's third-largest car rental company.

Jacksonville

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Jim King Companies was acquired by Wackenhut Corp. (NYSE-WAK) of Palm Beach Gardens for about $11.5 million in common stock and cash. Jim King is a 28-year-old employee-leasing and recruiting firm with annual revenues of $70 million.

Baymeadows Golf Course was bought by National Golf Properties (NYSE-TEE) for approximately $4.5 million. Since Santa Monica-based National's initial public offering in 1993, it has acquired 73 golf courses.

St. Joe Paper (NYSE-SJP) proposed to merge with Florida East Coast Industries, of which St. Joe already owns 54%. St. Joe would pay $102 per share of outstanding stock valued at $88.75 a share. Florida's largest private landowner, St. Joe, has interests in real estate, timber, railroads and sugar. FECI, also based in Jacksonville, is a real estate development and rail transportation company.

Unison agreed to purchase BFGoodrich Aerospace Engine Electrical Systems of Norwich, N.Y. The deal will add 578 employees and $60 million in annual sales to Unison's aircraft electrical engine parts business.

Armor Holdings (AMEX-ABE) acquired military and law enforcement apparel maker Supercraft Ltd. of Manchester, England, for about $3 million.

Regency Realty (NYSE-REG) acquired five grocery store-anchored shopping centers in Florida and North Carolina, totaling more than 700,000 square feet, for $48,372,000.

HealthCare USA, which employs about 100 and provides healthcare to nearly 28,000 Medicare recipients in 13 counties and nearly 11,000 local commercial consumers, will close its Florida HMO. HealthCare will transfer its Medicare clients to existing HMOs.

St. Johns County

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Suitt Construction of Altamonte Springs started work on the $32 million World of Golf Resort Hotel and Convention Center. The nine-story, 300-plus room hotel is due for completion in the spring of 1998.

Construction has begun in St. Johns County on the new 32,000-square-foot, $3.3 million Double Eagle office building, which will be the largest office building to be built in the county in seven years.

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UTILITY DEREGULATION

An Electric Shock ...

... may be in store for Ocala. The city, like 31 other Florida municipalities, relies in part on profits from electric utility sales to pay for city government. Those sales make up about one-half of Ocala's $26 million general fund.

But a few years ago, Ocala's city officials got the jitters when they realized that deregulation of the electric power industry was coming. How would the city replace lost revenues if customers bought electric power elsewhere? Would it be fair to provide city services to those who don't pay city electric bills?

In 1995, Ocala took preventive measures. First, it cut base electric rates to remain competitive. (This reduction, though, was offset by a new 10% tax on electric users.) In addition, the city has another tax ready for customers of outside vendors: Users within city limits would have to pay an extra 5% to 10% "franchise fee."

These measures are supposed to make sure everybody pays something for city services and to keep revenues from falling when deregulation hits. But they may not be enough. Large developers and chains such as Wal-Mart, First National Bank and Service Merchandise are already talking to "power marketers" for the best deals, says Dean Shaw, director of Ocala Utilities.

To play it safe, the city took more action. Work crews have been wiring city departments, police stations and libraries with fiber optics. Ocala plans to offer a new utility to its customers - telecommunications. Initially, the focus will be on high-speed data transmission and imaging for business purposes. And, if Ocala invests an extra $37 million on a second phase of fiber optic cabling, the city could offer telephone service one day.

But competing with private enterprise is tough. Florida's municipal electric utilities had to lobby hard in Tallahassee to change a bill that would have excluded municipals from providing telecommunications services.

So, what's the consumer to make of all this fuss? "We're not convinced that as a consumer you're going to get cheaper power if deregulation comes," says City Council member Gerald Ergle. "Whoever has the lines will distribute the power and somebody will have to pay for it."

- John Dunn

Tags: Florida Small Business, Politics & Law, Northeast, Business Florida

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