Bankruptcy next? Bon-Ton Stores Inc. enters into forbearance agreement

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 8:55 AM

Shopping begins at Elder Beerman

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., parent company of Elder-Beerman, has entered into forbearance agreements with its credit lenders.

The retailer announced late Tuesday that the company has entered into forbearance agreements with its ABL credit agreement lenders and an ad hoc group of holders. The Forbearance Agreements will expire on Jan. 26, unless further extended by the parties. The forbearance period under the ABL forbearance agreement will be automatically extended to Feb. 4.

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“The company is engaged in ongoing discussions with its debt holders in an effort to strengthen its capital structure to support the business,” Bon-Ton officials said in a statement. Bon-Ton Stores’ senior creditors are attempting to get the department store chain to file for bankruptcy, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Last month the retailer missed a $14 million interest payment due on Dec. 15, starting a 30-day grace period that ends next week. The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. operates 260 stores, which includes nine furniture galleries and four clearance centers, in 24 states.


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Vectren applies to raise natural gas rates

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 4:33 PM

Pipe laid out in Central Indiana farmland on its way to Ohio in 2008. The $5 billion project was built to move natural gas from the Rocky Mountains to Ohio. Jim Noelker/Dayton Daily News
Pipe laid out in Central Indiana farmland on its way to Ohio in 2008. The $5 billion project was built to move natural gas from the Rocky Mountains to Ohio. Jim Noelker/Dayton Daily News

Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio is applying to the state for an increase in rates, the company said Wednesday.

Vectren submitted a pre-filing notice Wednesday with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) indicating it seeks to raise charges for its gas distribution business in its 17-county West Central Ohio service.

The average residential customer would pay about $7 a month more if state regulators approve the change, the company said. In 2017, the average Vectren residential customer paid about $55 to $60 a month for Vectren natural gas service, although most of those costs are felt in the winter.

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Still, even with the increase, Vectren said average residential natural gas bills are projected to be about 15 percent lower than the bills customers saw in the late 2000s, when natural gas prices were lodged at record levels.

“The request to increase base rates for its gas delivery charges is the first Vectren has filed in more than a decade and covers the ongoing cost of operating, maintaining and expanding the approximately 5,600-mile pipeline system used to serve its 318,000 customers,” the company said in an announcement.

Vectren said it is already taking into account recent corporate tax cuts in seeking this rate increase.

In January, the PUCO asked Ohio electric utilities to consider lowering their rates after the federal government cut corporate income taxes from 35 to 21 percent.

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Ohio utilities responded by asking for clarification on the request.

“Because energy bills include the cost of income taxes, those reductions will be considered in this rate review process,” Vectren said Wednesday.

A customer’s natural gas bill is composed of infrastructure as well as supply charges.

“It’s to help pay for improved infrastructure,” Colleen Ryan, Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio president, said of the proposed increase in a phone interview.

The PUCO considers rate applications in a process that gives intervening parties and the public a chance to comment. There will also be public hearings on the matter across Vectren’s service area, a PUCO spokesman said.

The process could take some nine months before the PUCO makes a decision on the application.

The spokesman confirmed that the PUCO received the application today.

Since its late rate adjustment, Vectren said it has invested some $700 million into its Miami Valley network of gas pipelines, regulator stations and metering systems.

“The primary driver of this filing is our infrastructure work needed to continue safe, dependable energy delivery to existing customers and reach new customers,” Ryan said in Vectren’s statement.

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“We will also request an adjustment in our annual operating budget to account for the increase in labor costs we’ve experienced in executing compliance-related activities associated with federal pipeline safety regulations,” she added.

Vectren said in the last decade it has:

• Built “robust” pipeline integrity programs to test, upgrade and, in some cases, move high-pressure, large-diameter transmission pipelines;

• Expanded gas infrastructure;

• Replaced its distribution pipelines with “durable plastic” to improve system performance;

• Installed automated meter reading technology on all meters;

• Moved indoor meters outside, which includes the installation of new service lines, to improve access and safety.

Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio delivers natural gas to about 318,000 customers in all or portions of Auglaize, Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clinton, Darke, Fayette, Greene, Highland, Logan, Madison, Miami, Montgomery, Pickaway, Preble, Shelby and Warren counties.

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Springfield’s biggest employer to merge with East Coast health system

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 3:02 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 3:10 PM

Mercy Health, one of the state's largest employers, has announced a merger with an East Coast medical health network.

Mercy Health, which operates the Springfield Regional Medical Center and Mercy Health-Urbana Hospital in Champaign County, will merge with Bon Secours Health System, a Catholic health ministry serving residents across the East Coast.

Mercy Health, headquartered in Cincinnati, is the largest employer in Springfield. It’s the largest health system in Ohio and among the top five employers in the state, with more than 33,500 employees serving communities throughout Ohio and in Kentucky.

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The merger will create one of the largest health systems in the country spanning seven states in the eastern half of the U.S., according to a news release.

“As consumers grapple with the implications of Health Care Reform in a dynamic marketplace, Mercy Health and Bon Secours share a vision to improve the health of the communities we serve as the low-cost, high-value provider,” said John M. Starcher, Jr., Mercy Health President and CEO. “Working together, our strong faith-based heritage fuels our mutual focus to provide efficient and effective health care for each patient who comes through our doors.”

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The merger creates the fifth largest Catholic health system in the country, allowing the new entity to leverage economies of scale by integrating resources and teams across the ministries, the release says.

In the coming months, both parties will work together to finalize a definitive merger agreement, obtain applicable approvals and complete plans to merge. While there is no specific date outlined, executives at both Mercy Health and Bon Secours expect to complete this merger by the end of the calendar year.


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Macy’s outlet store to open at shopping center in Dayton area

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 8:54 AM

Macy's announced 5,000 job cuts and seven more store closures.

Macy’s is renovating one of its existing stores in the Dayton area to add an outlet store, according to a permit submitted to the Montgomery County Building Regulations Division.

Macy’s submitted a permit for a partial remodel of its existing Macy’s department store located at 2700 Miamisburg Centerville Road at the Dayton Mall. The estimated market value of the completed project is $75,000.

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The permit indicates the project is a partial building alteration to make space for a 1,300-square-foot Macy’s Backstage outlet.

The department store chain has invested in its off-price concept, called Macy’s Backstage. The company added 11 new Backstage stores within existing Macy’s stores in the first quarter of 2017. The stores, similar to Nordstrom Rack, offer discounted prices on brand clothing up to 80 percent off.

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This would be the first Backstage concept in Ohio. The chain has outlets in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.


This news organization has reached out to a Macy’s spokeswoman for more information about the project.

In January, the company announced the closure of 11 Macy’s stores — including one in downtown Cincinnati. It’s part of the retailer’s plan to close approximately 100 stores, which was announced back in August 2016.

The following Macy’s stores will be closing in early 2018. In most cases, clearance sales started Jan. 8 and run for approximately 8 to 12 weeks. Macy’s has closed a total of 124 stores since 2015.


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Rite Aid could be acquired by grocery operator

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 7:58 AM


Rite Aid could be bought by a private company that operates grocery chains like Safeway and Vons.

Albertsons Cos., based in Idaho, said the company is planning to buy Rite Aid’s 2,500 stores, according to the Associated Press.

The announcement comes at a time when rival pharmacy chains are also looking at mergers. Drug distributor AmeriSourceBergen is looking at buying Walgreens, and CVS and Aetna are seeking to merge.

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Albertsons said it will continue to run Rite Aid stand-alone stores, and most of the grocery operator’s pharmacies will be rebranded as Rite Aid. Albertsons also runs Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Vons and Acme stores.

The companies say the deal should close in the second half of this year, but regulators and Rite Aid shareholders still have to approve it, according to AP.

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