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Tampa Business & Commercial Law Blog

Time Warner, Comcast merger may hit legal snag

Time Warner Cable Inc. and Comcast Corp. are facing having to defend their merger plans -- first announced in February -- in court, and several public interest groups are claiming that the merger will give Comcast too much influence over the availability of cable channels and the price. The merger is worth a reported $45.2 billion.

In papers it filed with the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast argued that it still has to deal with significant competition from the likes of Apple and Google. The company also claims that current Time Warner customers will benefit from the merger by gaining faster Internet service.

Florida recycling company files for Chapter 11

Debt, dropping commodity prices and adverse weather conditions are being named as possible causes of West Florida Recycling's recent bankruptcy filing. According to reports, the company takes care of 300,000 pounds of recyclable items on a daily basis, but the heavy rains this season have led to on-site floods, making it harder for the business to operate as usual.

Another key ingredient in the road to the bankruptcy filing is the fact that the amount the company gets for selling the recyclable materials is dropping. Instead of charging its subscribers for the pickup service, West Florida Recycling makes it's money by selling the items the clients put out. When the value of those materials goes down so does the company's profits.

St. Petersburg, Florida, company sold for $2.5 billion

Berkshire Partners purchase of Catalina Marketing Corp. is slated to be one of the largest acquisitions in Florida in years. The purchase amount ranks higher than both the $20.5 million paid for Food Technology Service Inc. and the reported $326 million planned for Nicholas Financial Inc.

Berkshire -- a private equity firm based outside of Florida -- had announced its plans to buy the Hellman & Friedman owned company in March, but the sale price was not disclosed. A recent reports from Standard & Poor's Ratings Service, however, shows that Berkshire is putting down approximately $2.5 billion for the company.

Founder and developer in dispute over Florida restaurant

A Florida barbecue restaurant is making the news as the restaurant's founder and a developer are battling over who has the right to open the establishment. According to reports, the developer took over Bubbalou's Inc., which houses Florida's Bubbalou's Bodacious Bar-B-Que chain, in February after purchasing stock from the founder's former business partners. The developer planned to reopen one of the restaurants in Winter Park, but according to reports, the founder already has.

The founder has filed a suit against the former owners of Bubbalou's and the developer, saying that the former owners did not adhere to the correct procedures when they sold the stock to the developer. The founder claims that he still owns 22.5 percent of the restaurant's stock.

Vulcan gets $720 million from business sale

When a business sale is announced, the public often assumes that there is financial difficulty on the part of one of the companies involved. This isn't always the case, though, as seen in one recently announced local sale.

The Florida concrete and cement businesses formerly owned by Vulcan Materials Co., the United States' largest construction aggregates producer, will now be under the control of a new owner, Cementos Argos. According to a statement released by Vulcan, the value of the sale was $720 million, and that included the Port Manatee and Tampa facilities.

Dots Fashions stores closing in Florida

Tampa residents will soon be down one place to shop. Dots Fashions -- known for its women's and plus-size clothing and accessories -- will be closing multiple stores in Florida and around the nation soon after filing for bankruptcy. The retail chain has already begun the process with store closing sales that started on March 1.

Shoppers will be able to get discounts starting at 20 percent on the company's merchandise during the sale. It was unclear, however, if the discounts would become greater as time passed, but according to reports, all 360 of the stores across the nation will stay open until all the merchandise is sold. This includes three stores in Pinellas County, five stores in the Tampa Bay area and two stores in Hillsborough County.

Competitor acquires Florida's Stewart Enterprises

Service Corporation International, a company that owns and operates cemeteries and funeral homes, will be coming to the Tampa area. SCI, founded in 1962, has been in the process of acquiring several of its competitors in recent years, and in December 2013, the Federal Trade Commission gave the go ahead for the company to buy Stewart Enterprises for $1.4 billion.

Stewart brings an additional 217 funeral homes to SCI's holdings and gives the company 24 percent of the market share in the Tamp Bay area. This could mean an increase in pricing for local consumers. According to a report on Bloomberg Businessweek, SCI was already priced above independently owned funeral homes in 2013, with an average cost of $6,256. The average cost of services at an independent funeral home was $4,405.

Florida manufacturer files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Bankruptcy filings increased after the 2008 recession, but the number of filings has slowly been decreasing, indicating that the economy may be rebounding. The long-term effects of the recession, however, have yet to be seen, and businesses in particular may not yet be out of the woods. Companies who file bankruptcy may do so for a variety of reasons, and some may be able to continue to operate during the filings.

United Electronics Corp. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Florida company manufactures power distribution panes and power connectors. According to the bankruptcy filing, the company's assets total less than $500,000. It's debts are listed at over $10 million. Court documents listed the reasons for the bankruptcy filing as declining business as a result of the recession and litigation by previous owners.

Announced acquisition brings together two popular retailers

Business transactions, including sales, mergers and acquisitions, are a standard part of the business world. Florida consumers are no stranger to mergers and acquisitions among companies with which they do business, and it looks like another one is on the horizon.

Jos. A. Bank announced in Feb. 14 that it has made a deal with Everest Topco to buy Everest Holdings LLC, which is the parent company for well-known clothing and accessory store Eddie Bauer. Jos. A. Bank has apparently been looking for possible companies to buy for the past two years. Eddie Bauer was at the top of that list.

Mistrial: Google, Intellectual Ventures business litigation

While there are still other trials slated to begin, a recent patent infringement dispute between Google and the patent aggregator Intellectual Ventures has ended in a mistrial. The dispute involved the Google-owned company Motorola Mobility Inc., and was filed by Intellectual Ventures in 2011. This particular suit claimed that Motorola had infringed on patents in its Android services, including the Google Play app and Motorola hardware.

The chief litigation counsel for the patent company issued a statement saying that the mistrial verdict was disappointing but that Intellectual Ventures was looking forward to the retrial, as well as the other suits it has filed against Motorola Mobility. A spokesperson for Motorola also issued a statement, saying that the lawsuit was seated in "overbroad patent claims."

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