War of words continues over Pegulas’ Rand bid
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.