War of words con­tin­ues over Peg­u­las’ Rand bid

The Buffalo News - - BUSINESS - – David Robinson – Sa­man­tha Christ­mann – Sa­man­tha Christ­mann

The CEO of Rand Cap­i­tal Corp. said the Buf­falo ven­ture cap­i­tal firm strongly dis­agrees with the crit­i­cism by its largest share­holder of its pro­posed deal to sell a ma­jor­ity stake to Kim and Terry Peg­ula.

“While we very much ap­pre­ci­ate the in­put of share­hold­ers, we strongly dis­agree with his con­clu­sions,” Rand CEO Pete Grum said in re­sponse to crit­i­cal com­ments from Bruce Howard, the CEO of User­Friendly Phone Book, which owns a 23 per­cent stake in Rand.

“We believe the trans­ac­tion is in the best in­ter­est of all share­hold­ers and en­ables a fu­ture that we expect will be demon­stra­bly bet­ter than if we were to main­tain the status quo,” Grum said.

The Peg­u­las, who own the Buf­falo Bills and Sabres, have agreed to buy a 57 per­cent stake in Rand through their East As­set Man­age­ment busi­ness for $25 mil­lion, or $3 a share – a price that Howard de­scribed as “wholly in­ad­e­quate” with “terms that we believe are ex­tremely bad and un­fair for share­hold­ers.”

Howard lev­eled his crit­i­cism in a reg­u­la­tory fil­ing late last month, but Rand did not re­spond un­til late Wed­nes­day.

“Just as the com­pany’s proxy does not pro­vide ad­e­quate in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the pro­posed trans­ac­tion, the board’s answer does not, pre­sum­ably be­cause they cannot cred­i­bly, ad­dress sub­stan­tively any of the points we raised in our de­tailed and well sub­stan­ti­ated let­ter,” User-Friendly Phone Book said in a state­ment Thurs­day.

“In­stead, we and our fel­low stock­hold­ers are asked to rely on vague and con­clu­sory state­ments from the board about the ill-con­ceived pro­posed trans­ac­tion,” Howard said.

“The Com­pany’s stock­hold­ers de­serve more and bet­ter from our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives,” Howard said.

“We call upon the board for a sub­stan­tive re­sponse to our let­ter and the very im­por­tant is­sues we raised,” Howard said in the state­ment.

User-Friendly Phone Book, a Texas-based busi­ness that sells dig­i­tal me­dia prod­ucts to small busi­nesses and pub­lishes some print tele­phone di­rec­to­ries, in­vested in Rand last June.

Rand’s shares have long traded at a steep dis­count to the value of the com­pany’s as­sets, which prompted the firm to ex­plore ways to im­prove re­turns for share­hold­ers.

Tay­lor De­vices names Ti­mothy Sopko new CEO

Ti­mothy J. Sopko, a Springville res­i­dent and Uni­ver­sity at Buf­falo grad­u­ate, has been named CEO of Tay­lor De­vices. He will re­ceive a salary of $250,000 an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to SEC fil­ings.

Sopko was pre­vi­ously vice pres­i­dent and general man­ager at Car­leton Tech­nolo­gies in Or­chard Park.

Last year, the North Ton­awanda shock ab­sorber man­u­fac­turer named 30-year vet­eran Alan R. Klem­bczyk pres­i­dent. He took over when long­time CEO Douglas P. Tay­lor re­tired.

Klem­bczyk pre­vi­ously man­aged the com­pany’s engineering depart­ment.

He will re­main on as pres­i­dent un­der Sopko.

Stem cell innovation wins UB’s Panasci com­pe­ti­tion

A startup de­vel­op­ing a way to use a pa­tient’s own stem cells to re­pair liver dam­age, in­stead of do­ing a trans­plant, was the win­ning en­try in the Uni­ver­sity at Buf­falo’s Henry A. Panasci Jr. Tech­nol­ogy En­trepreneur­ship Com­pe­ti­tion this week.

Ogechi Ogoke, a doc­toral stu­dent in chem­i­cal and bio­med­i­cal engineering, was awarded $25,000 in cash and $27,000 in in-kind busi­ness ser­vices for his com­pany, Li­van­dala.

The pro­ce­dure could re­pair and re­gen­er­ate liver dam­age, elim­i­nat­ing the need for a trans­plant. It would be faster to per­form and of­fer a faster re­cov­ery for those with chronic liver dam­age. At about $50,000, it would also be less ex­pen­sive than a liver trans­plant, which can cost $800,000.

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