Wednesday AM March 28th, 2007
by: Ed Mayberry, March 28, 2007 5:03:00 am
Portuguese utility company EDP Energias de Portugal has a deal to buy out Houston-based wind-power firm Horizon Wind Energy. That's according to Portugal's financial markets regulator. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter. It values the equity of Horizon at $2.15 billion. Horizon was acquired by the Goldman Sachs Group in 2005 for less than $1 billion. EDP says the total amount to be paid at the closing of the transaction will be adjusted for capital expenditures--but it estimates that adjustment will amount to an additional $600 million. Horizon's net financial debt as of December 31st was $180 million. EDP says the combined entity resulting from the acquisition will be a leading global renewable-energy player. It'll have a capacity to generate over 3,800 gross megawatts of wind power by the end of 2007. Horizon currently owns 559 gross megawatts of operating wind projects and 997 megawatts of projects under construction.
Valero Energy is dropping plans for a proposed refinery expansion in Texas City, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The refiner is also postponing expansion of its Quebec plant until 2008. That's according to a presentation to be made today by San Antonio-based Valero at an industry conference. Valero says the postponement of work to expand the crude distillation unit is a measure of "capital discipline.'' Valero had planned to increase crude processing capacity at its Texas City refinery by 10,000 barrels per day—to 235,000 barrels. Coker capacity also was to be increased. Valero, like many refiners, is facing sharply higher construction costs and much longer timelines for projects. Besides expansion of its Port Arthur crude distillation capacity, key projects for Valero this year include addition of hydrocrackers at its St. Charles refinery in Norco, Louisiana, and at the Houston refinery. New hydrotreaters--which purify crude oil--are planned for refineries in Benicia, California, and Corpus Christi.
CytoGenix has a research and development agreement with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, according to the Houston Business Journal, to fight against diseases caused by viruses that could be used in bioterrorism. The Houston-based biopharmaceutical company will develop and test its proprietary vaccines for prevention of diseases caused by the Ebola virus and several strains of equine encephalitis.
Houston-based U.S. Concrete has formed a joint venture with Detroit-based Edw. C. Levy, according to the Houston Business Journal. The new company name will be Superior Materials. The new firm will consist of 28 ready-mixed concrete plants, a 24,000-ton cement terminal and about 300 ready-mixed concrete trucks.
Nexus Health Systems is being acquired by Pennsylvania-based Select Medical Corp. in a $49 million deal, according to the Houston Business Journal. Nexus provides services for hospitals that include HealthBridge Children's Hospital in Houston, Nexus Specialty Hospital in Shenandoah, Texas, which has a satellite campus in The woodlands, Touchstone Neurorecovery Center in Conroe and a children's hospital in California. Select has 90 long-term, acute-care hospitals in 26 states and 544 outpatient rehabilitation clinics.
Some booths with colorful posters, logo-bearing trinkets and enthusiastic recruiters are like those at most jobs fairs in Texas. But at the Fort Sam Houston Job Fair Tuesday, many of the job seekers used crutches, are missing limbs or have bandages. Their fatigues and suits covered severe burns or other battle wounds. The job fair in the San Antonio area was the ninth in a series sponsored by the Department of Defense. It's designed to help wounded veterans--especially those with the most severe injuries--build a civilian life after their military career ends. Fort Sam houses the army's only burn unit and new high-tech rehabilitation facility for amputees. The roughly 70 employers who attended the Fort Sam Fair included government agencies ranging from the Central Intelligence Agency to the Transportation Security Administration.
More than 100,000 disaster loans have been disbursed by the Small Business Administration. The SBA says $4.8 billion has been distributed to Gulf Coast residents with losses in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. That's three-quarters of the amount approved for borrowers rebuilding from the hurricanes.
Houston has displaced San Diego in regaining its place as the number one city for income tax procrastinators, according to rankings by California-based Intuit. Texas and California lead the nation with three cities apiece in the Top 10. Austin and San Antonio are also in this year's Top 10.
AT&T's Cingular Wireless plans to introduce mobile banking with four prominent banks in the biggest such initiative in the nation. But it still falls short of the industry's long-discussed goal of turning cell phones into credit cards. San Antonio-based AT&T has reached deals with Wachovia, Regions Financial, Suntrust Banks and BancorpSouth. The deals will allow AT&T customers who bank with those companies to use their cell phones to check account balances, transfer funds between accounts and pay bills. The application was developed by Firethorn Holdings and will be available immediately for BancorpSouth customers. It'll be available later this year for cell users who bank with the other three financial companies. AT&T won't charge customers for the service beyond its data usage fees. Users of existing AT&T mobile phones will need to download a program to use the new service. It plans to begin embedding software on new handsets starting in the second half of 2007.
AT&T says wireless customers will soon be able to use their phones to share live video and audio using Video Share, which is being rolled out this summer in more than 50 U.S. markets. Users will be able to send a live video stream to a recipient during a standard voice call. The direction of the video stream can be switched in the same call.
AT&T is hooking up with Napster to offer the music service to some of its customers. The San Antonio-based communications company will offer wireless and broadband Internet customers a year of free access to the Napster to go service. The offer begins April 1st--and will let broadband Internet subscribers who add wireless phone service and wireless subscribers who add broadband a year of free access to Napster. Napster lets users have access to three million songs.
CIT Energy has opened a Houston office to provide financing to oil exploration and production companies. CIT Energy expects to do $3 billion to $4 billion of new energy financing this year, with about half of that in the oil industry—80 percent of that in E&P.
The Holiday Inn Select Houston West on Highway 6 and I-10 has been rebranded as the Crowne Plaza Houston West, according to the Houston Business Journal. The 344-room hotel will undergo a $4.4 million renovation.
Trammell Crow has acquired a city block in downtown Houston for a new 31-story building to be named Discovery Tower. The building will be part of the 12-acre, $93 million Discovery Green downtown park under construction near the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Six Houston office buildings and their management firms have been recognized for excellence by the Houston Building Owners and Managers Association, according to the Houston Business Journal. The Office Building of the Year awards were given to Two Memorial City Plaza, 5 Houston Center, Four Oaks Place, First City Tower, Legacy Center Business Park and Waterway Plaza. Winners are selected based on community impact, tenant/employee relations programs, energy management systems, accessibility for disabled people, emergency evacuation procedures, building personnel training programs and overall quality.