published Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Business Briefcase: SunTrust sells Coke holdings

SunTrust sells Coke holdings

SunTrust Banks Inc., the Atlanta-based bank that invested in Coca-Cola Co. in 1919, announced last week it has sold most of its Coke holdings for a $1.2 billion gain to help cover the costs of bad loans and to put other lingering effects of the financial crisis behind the firm.

SunTrust is cashing in a more than $2 billion Coca-Cola stake that was valued at $100,000 when a predecessor of the bank aided the beverage firm with its initial public offering. The crisis that struck almost a century later spurred the bank to seek ways to boost capital as losses from bad loans mounted. The transaction will boost third-quarter net income by about $750 million, or $1.40 a share.

“This is a big leap,” Gerard Cassidy, an RBC Capital Markets analyst, told Reuters news. “All of the major regional banks and money-center banks have been on the road to recovery; some have moved down that road more quickly than others. SunTrust was a laggard. This action accelerates the recovery process.”

TVA among top utilities

For the seventh consecutive year, the Tennessee Valley Authority has been named one of the top 10 North American utilities for economic development by Site Selection magazine.

In a recent edition, the publication recognized TVA’s fiscal year 2011 work with local power companies and regional, state and community partners to help attract or retain more than 43,000 jobs and leverage $4.9 billion in capital investment in TVA’s seven-state service territory. John Bradley, TVA’s senior vice president of economic development, said the federal utility has helped support efforts to retain or recruit 240,000 jobs and $30 billion in business investment in the region since 2007.

“Power, partners and performance are the keys that work to unlock sustainable economic development success in our region,” Bradley said.

Major companies announcing expansion or location in the Tennessee Valley in 2011 included Olin-Winchester Corp. and GE Aviation in Mississippi; GM and Martinrea Hopkinsville in Kentucky; Electrolux and Amazon.com in Tennessee; and Topre America and North American Lighting in Alabama.

Opportunity for entrepreneurs

Inventors interested in developing business plans for their ideas could win $2,500 in this year’s Y-12 / Inventors Business Plan Competition presented by The Enterprise Center in Chattanooga. The competition, which is open to all entrepreneurs, inventors and companies throughout the region interested in developing business plans based on an invention, will be at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Chattanooga from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5. Entrepreneurs and prospective entrepreneurs who don’t have their own inventions can base their business plan on inventions available from Y-12 National Security Complex or The Enterprise Center’s other regional technology partners. Participants will receive feedback from The Enterprise Center and a panel of experts; finalists will present Dec. 5.

Contact Christi Doll at 425-3772 or dollc@theenterprisectr.org.

VW’s Bentley moves HQ

Bentley Motors Inc., the sales and marketing arm for Bentley Motors in the Americas, will relocate its corporate headquarters from Boston to the offices of Volkswagen Group of America in Herndon, Va., as part of a strategic realignment.

Christophe Georges, president for Bentley Motors Inc., said the U.S. is its biggest market and the relocation will allow Bentley to focus resources on the brand and to take further advantage of synergies with the Volkswagen Group in the U.S.

Jonathan Browning, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said that by having Audi, VW, Lamborghini and now Bentley in the same location “we can provide that support so each of the brands can continue to focus on its unique position in the marketplace.”

The headquarters relocation is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.

Life Care hosts top managers

More than 300 people from 28 states, including Hawaii, are in Cleveland, Tenn., this week for Life Care Centers of America’s 36th annual management meeting.

“Our executive directors, regional and divisional leadership and corporate associates and spouses will come together for four days of learning — company updates and industry information — set amidst a lot of fellowship, inspiration and recommitment to the principles of our mission of serving people,” said Beecher Hunter, Life Care president.

The meetings begin today at the Corporate Plaza and continue through Wednesday.

The program with the biggest attendance will be Monday evening, when Life Care will honor excellence in performance. Among the presentations will be the two highest honors bestowed by Life Care: the Chairman’s Award to an outstanding associate, and the Carl W. Campbell Wind Beneath My Wings Award, which goes to the company-wide volunteer of the year. The program concludes with addresses by Hunter; Forrest L. Preston, chairman; and Bart Walker, senior vice president of operations.

Founded in 1976, the Cleveland, Tenn.-based Life Care operates or manages more than 220 nursing, post-acute and Alzheimer’s centers in 28 states.

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