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VOL. 11 | NO. 25 | Saturday, June 23, 2018

Daily Digest

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Bain Capital Buying Varsity Brands for $2.5B

Memphis-based Varsity Brands Inc. is being purchased by Bain Capital Private Equity in a deal Varsity says will help it "accelerate our growth to the next level."

Varsity did not disclose terms of the transaction Tuesday, June 19, but CNBC, which first reported the news says the deal is reportedly worth about $2.5 billion.

Bain is purchasing Varsity from private equity firm Charlesbank Capital Partners and funds managed or advised by Partners Group, a global private markets investment management firm, which have owned the company since 2014.

Varsity Brands CEO Adam Blumenfeld will continue to lead the company, which consists of three divisions: BSN Sports, the largest team sports equipment and apparel distributor in the United States; Varsity Spirit, which produces cheerleading uniforms and holds educational camps, clinics and competitions; and Herff Jones, a leading provider of graduation and educational products and services.

"Bain Capital’s extensive consumer and technology experience and their commitment to our mission of empowering young people will help us accelerate our growth to a new level," Blumenfeld said in a statement.

Bain's experience in the consumer/retail sector include investments in Canada Goose, Toms Shoes, Blue Nile, BRP, Daymon Worldwide, Bright Horizons, Burlington Stores and Sundial Brands.

Ryan Cotton, a managing director at Bain Capital, said the deal would amplify Varsity's ecommerce operations and digital expansion while also accelerating its growth through acquisitions and organic initiatives.

The transaction is expected to close during the third quarter, pending regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

– Bill Dries

St. Jude Tops List Of Gen Z ‘Dream Employers’

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the No. 1 dream employer among high-achieving high school and college students, taking the spot from Google, according to the National Society of High School Scholars’ 2018 Career Interest Survey.

The survey, which is the 11th of its kind, reflects a higher level of interest in health care, versus the technology focus seen in previous years. Joining St. Jude are other highly regarded health care organizations, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (No. 9), Health Care Service Corporation (10), Mayo Clinic (13) and Atlantic Health Systems (22). The top 25 also included a “local hospital” catch-all coming in at No. 3.

Newcomers to the list included NASA (12) and SpaceX (18).

Chick-fil-A (24) was also new to the top 25, making it Generation Z’s first choice among food establishments.

Entertainment companies like Walt Disney Co. (6), BuzzFeed (8), Netflix (14), DreamWorks Animation SKG (17), Universal Studios (20) and the New York Times (21), all remained in the 2018 top 25.

NSHSS is an academic honor society for high-achieving students that offers member-exclusive scholarships and connects outstanding scholars with colleges and universities around the globe. All survey respondents are NSHSS members, and all are part of Generation Z and millennials. The survey was performed during the spring of 2018 and represents the voices of more than 16,000 high school and college-aged individuals.

– Don Wade

Bank of Bartlett Merging Germantown Branches

Bank of Bartlett has announced it will consolidate its two neighboring Germantown operations in a singular “enhanced” location at the corner of Poplar Avenue and Kirby Parkway.

Effective Oct. 31, the Village Square shopping center branch will merge into the existing Poplar and Kirby branch less than two miles to the west.

As the latter branch is located in Germantown’s Smart Growth sector, which allows building heights up to eight stories, Bank of Bartlett indicated the potential for vertical expansion and the proximity the TraVure building, which is home to MAA’s national headquarters, as two reasons behind the decision.

“In the Poplar and Kirby branch, Bank of Bartlett owns what many consider to be the premier location in the Germantown and metro area,” Bank of Bartlett president Harold Byrd said in a statement. “This consolidation allows us to grow smarter. It allows us to focus on stable growth in this area and, what is most important, investing in our customers through offering highly competitive rates and unmatched service.”

In addition to combining of their two Germantown branches, Bank of Bartlett has also added a new business banking officer, and a mortgage hub with an additional originator and processor on staff, said Byrd went on to say.

Over the last year, Bank of Bartlett has been investing in the Poplar/Kirby branch to prepare for the consolidation by adding more staff to minimize wait times for customers, improvements to the space, upgrades to the teller row, and new lighting and exterior enhancements.

Currently, Bank of Bartlett’s footprint includes eight area branches and 85 ATMs in Memphis-area Walgreens. The bank indicated it is looking to further expand its footprint into the Arlington and Midtown areas.

– Patrick Lantrip

Lake District Selects Homebuilding Team

After months of vetting, the developers of the Lake District have announced the massive mixed-use project’s residential development team, which consists of exclusive builder Keith Allen of The Walker-Collinsworth Co., broker Billy Rodgers of Crye-Leike Real Estate Brokerage, and lead architect Looney Ricks Kiss.

Residents will select from a wide variety of home styles, ranging from 19th-century Tudor style to contemporary/modern homes with expansive windows and clean lines, developer Yehuda Netanel said in statement.

Lake District director of development Maggie Gallagher said home prices will start in the upper $300,000 range and will be built to individual specifications.

Interested parties will be able to contact Rodgers about housing inquiries Aug.1.

“I have a deep connection with Lakeland, I love the community and am honored to serve on the board of directors for the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce,” Rodgers said in a statement. “The Lake District will be a crown jewel of Lakeland and the greater Memphis community, I eagerly look forward to helping future residents own the home of their dreams.”

– Patrick Lantrip

Nicholls Becomes CFO At International Paper

Longtime International Paper executive Tim Nicholls is the Memphis-based company’s new chief financial officer, the company announced Wednesday, June 20.

Nicholls, who has been senior vice president of industrial packaging for the Americas since November 2014, succeeds Glenn R. Landau as CFO. Landau is leaving the company for personal reasons, according to the IP statement.

Jean-Michel Ribieras takes Nicholls position, coming from being senior vice president of Global Cellulose Fibers.

And Catherine Slater takes the position Ribieras had, coming to that job from being a senior vice president.

– Bill Dries

Fitch Upgrades Memphis’ Bond Rating to AA

The city’s bond rating has been upgraded by Fitch Ratings to AA, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said Wednesday, June 20.

The city’s rating had been AA-.

Fitch upgraded the bond rating just past the end of the city’s budget season with city council passage of a $685 million operating budget and an adjusted city property tax rate of $3.19 – all of which takes effect with the start of the fiscal year July 1.

The Fitch report cites “the city’s continued operational stability while continuing on its track to fully fund actuarially determined pension requirements by fiscal 2020.”

Fitch also said increasing home values and the city’s financial reserves as well as announcements of expansions by FedEx Corp. and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – each at dollar amounts over $1 billion – were factors.

In a written statement, Strickland said the higher bond rating, which translates to the ability to borrow money at a lower rate or cost, is confirmation that his administration’s emphasis on core services is working.

The city uses bonds to finance most of its large capital projects, paying off the debt over 20 to 30 years in most cases.

“Our increasingly positive financial situation is an indicator that we’re doing things the right way at City Hall: being efficient with spending, prioritizing core services, being frank about our challenges, and working together to find solutions,” Strickland said.

– Bill Dries

U of M, FedEx Partner On IT Command Center

FedEx and UMRF Ventures, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Memphis Research Foundation, have partnered to open a student-operated IT Command Center at the FedEx Institute of Technology on campus in an effort to grow the regional data analytics workforce.

Forty-five graduate students have been hired to work with FedEx IT employees to use advanced software technologies to analyze, inspect, troubleshoot and interpret operational and network performance data on a real-time basis.

“We are very thankful for FedEx’s continued overwhelming support and presence on our campuses,” U of M president M. David Rudd said in a statement. “The FedEx IT Command Center provides another wonderful venue for our graduate students to not only gain valuable work experience but to earn wages to help make college more affordable.”

The new IT Command Center will open Wednesday, June 20, and will operate seven days a week.

– Patrick Lantrip

Federal Grant to Aid SCS Head Start Program

Shelby County Schools is getting an $11.6 million grant from the federal Department of Health and Human Services for the development of the Shelby County Head Start program, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen announced.

The Head Start program currently serves 20,000 children and families in Tennessee a year.

Cohen also announced two grants to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital totaling $1.1 million.

A $721,656 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infections will fund research on the interactions between cell receptors and proteins.

A $392,656 grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is for research on cell adhesion in neuron migration.

– Bill Dries

PROPERTY SALES 28 290 16,197
MORTGAGES 33 165 10,087
BUILDING PERMITS 184 608 38,544
BANKRUPTCIES 33 125 7,597