Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Business digest

Cincinnati Financial adds parking garage

FAIRFIELD - Cincinnati Financial Corp. said Tuesday it will build a $20 million parking garage to accommodate the 2,500-plus employees of the company's headquarters here.

The garage will have 1,800 spaces, and construction will begin later this year. The insurance company plans to build a third seven-story tower on the site in 2006 and said the parking garage is needed for many of the employees who now park in open lots.

Report: Expansion continues locally

The local economy continues to expand, albeit at a slower rate, according to the National Association of Purchasing Management's Greater Cincinnati report out today. The association's index for June was 61.0, compared to 65.1 last month. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Pricing Index stands at 34.7, the highest reading since the index began in January 2000. Purchasers should keep their eye on inflationary pressures, the association's local chapter said.

American Financial mulls shares offer

American Financial Group Inc. said Tuesday it was considering an initial public offering of shares in its National Interstate Corp. transportation insurance subsidiary near Cleveland.

AFG owns 65 percent of National Interstate's shares. It would not sell any of its shares, and would remain the majority owner. But if completed, the offering would raise about $55 million for National Interstate and provide liquidity to its minority owners, AFG co-president Carl Lindner III said.

Shares in AFG closed at $30.48, up 28 cents.

PNC and nonprofits offer equity loans

PNC Bank has teamed with three nonprofit groups to offer low-interest, home-equity loans to low- and moderate-income homeowners with some credit problems.

Working with the Better Housing League, the Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati and Working In Neighborhoods, PNC will offer loans that are 1 percent below its current best rate on home-equity loans. Borrowers can use the loans for many purposes, including paying off college costs or credit-card debt, for bill consolidation and to make home repairs.

PNC also will use less-restrictive approval standards to allow more people to qualify for the loans. Contact any of the above organizations for details.

Pomeroy Solutions gets credit pact

Pomeroy IT Solutions Inc., the Hebron-based computer sales and service provider, has secured a new $165 million syndicated credit facility replacing its old credit agreement. GE Commerical Distribution Finance leads the syndicate of six other co-lenders including Fifth Third Bank, co-agent for the loan agreement. Other participating banks are National City Bank, PNC Bank, UPS Capital Corp., Bank of America NA, and AMSouth Bank.

Chi-Chi's pays $2M in hepatitis cases

WASHINGTON - The bankruptcy court overseeing the Chapter 11 case of Chi-Chi's Inc. authorized the restaurant chain to pay more than $2 million in settlements to customers who suffered from an outbreak of hepatitis A at one of its restaurants, according to court papers obtained Tuesday.

The order, signed last week by Judge Charles G. Case of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., and made available Tuesday, authorizes the Louisville-based Tex-Mex eatery to pay 60 claims totaling $2.18 million.

The settlements stem from the largest outbreak of hepatitis A in U.S. history, the focal point of which was a Chi-Chi's restaurant outside of Pittsburgh.

Hunt named CFO of NeighborCare

BALTIMORE - NeighborCare Inc., a medical supplier to the long-term care industry, Tuesday said it named Richard Hunt chief financial officer.

In May, Covington-based Omnicare offered to acquire NeighborCare for about $1.5 billion. NeighborCare rejected the $30-a-share bid two weeks ago and called the offer "inadequate from a financial point of view."

Staff/wire reports

Lexus retains title as most dependable
Get off phone and drive, workers told
DHL's loss may be huge to N.Ky.
Fed poised to raise rates
First Financial extends CEO hunt
Five receive tax incentives
Credit unions lure rejects from banks
Pelfrey scores with move
Gas, jobs fuel upbeat report
Tristate business summary
Business digest