Monday, February 20, 2006

Seeds of Private Health Care in Quebec

Last week, Quebec's Premier Charest proposed lifting a ban on private health insurance for several elective surgical procedures and announced the province would pay for the surgeries at private clinics when waiting times at public clinics and hospitals were unreasonable. The proposal was in response to a Supreme Court decision last summer that said long waits for surgical procedures at public facilities was unconstitutional. The Court then struck down the province's ban on private medical insurance and ordered it to initiate a reform program within a year. The Supreme Court's opinion applies only to Quebec, but it has already generated movement elsewhere. The premiers of British Columbia and Alberta have promised action. All of the provinces are reacting to long waiting lines for some services under Canada's public health insurance program.

Friday, February 03, 2006

PBGC May Take Rennert Hamptons Estate

The PBGC is poised to lay claim to a $185 million five-building, ocean-front estate in the Hamptons with over 100,000 square feet, 29 bedrooms, 39 bathrooms, a 164-seat theater, two bowling alleys, a restaurant-size kitchen, and a garage that holds 200 cars. The estate belongs to Ira Rennert, who built a business empire and fortune by buying distressed companies, often with high-yield junk bonds. One of those companies was WCI which has an unfunded pension obligation of $189 million. The PBGC is threatening an involuntary plan termination and placing a lien on Rennert's house to force him to pick up the tab for the pension plan. This is not the first time the PBGC has gone after the business and personal assets of individuals to satisfy pension obligations. In 1992 it went after Carl Ichan in the TWA bankruptcy.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

ACS Affirms No Sale to Private-Equity Investors

ACS announced today that recent unsolicited discussions with a group of private-equity investors regarding a possible sale of the company have ended. ACS has been considering alternatives to enhance shareholder value including the discussions with a group of private-equity investors, as well as the possible dual class recapitalization proposal described in the Company's September 2005 proxy statement.

PBGC to sell half its stake in UAL

The PBGC will soon sell about half of its 23.4% stake in UAL, worth $400 million. The PBGC became an unsecured creditor and the largest single shareholder in UAL when the company dumped a $10.2 billion unfunded pension liability on the agency. The PBGC's position is that a government agency should not take an active role in corporate management or governance. With the sale (in addition to United assets it previously acquired as a creditor and sold), the agency will recover considerably more than the seven cents on the dollar it normally realizes.

Source: WSJ