Yankee Candle Sold for $1.75 Billion
DEERFIELD — Last week, Yankee Candle announced its $1.75 billion sale to Jarden Corp., a consumer products company based in Rye, N.Y., boasting a diverse portfolio of more than 120 brands, including Coleman, Rawlings, Ball, Bicycle, Diamond, Mr. Coffee, First Alert, Oster, and Sunbeam. The move comes six years after Chicago-based Madison Dearborn Partners bought the iconic scented-candle brand for $1.6 billion. Dearborn put the company up for sale earlier this year with an asking price of $2 billion. Michael Kittredge II founded Yankee Candle in his parents’ garage in South Hadley in 1969 and grew it into a multi-million-dollar retailer and tourist destination in Deerfield, employing more than 6,500 workers year-round. Kittredge sold 90% of his shares in the company in 1998 for about $400 million, and the new management took the company public in 1999.
Westfield State Trustees Cheer Dobelle’s Spending
WESTFIELD — Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle received a strong vote of support from the school’s board of trustees following an accountant’s report detailing exorbitant travel and spending habits by university officials. “When you are a visionary and want to do something great, you’re going to have detractors,” said board member Terrell Hall during the trustees’ recent meeting, which included an hour-long presentation by accountant David Diiulis of the O’Connor & Drew auditing firm, outlining repeated violations of travel and credit-card policies involving Dobelle and other employees that emerged during a five-month review commissioned by the trustees. Among the findings was that Dobelle reimbursed the school $68,000 for personal use of a university credit card between June 2008 and February 2013, in violation of school policy barring the use of WSU credit cards for personal use. In defending the findings, Dobelle acknowledged some bookkeeping errors but insisted that all expenses were for the benefit for the university. “In no small measure due to the travel and fund-raising you and I have undertaken with various other university representatives, faculty, and students in the few years since I began this job, we have accomplished game-changing successes,” he said, citing an overhaul of WSU’s international exchange program, the implementation of new academic programs, and capital improvements on campus. “Meaningful change does not occur without substantial investment of time and financial resources, and cultivation of support. I am deeply proud of what our university has accomplished in these past few years, and am eager to continue this trajectory toward even more significant successes in the years to come.” O’Connor & Drew found that Dobelle and other officials violated the school’s travel and credit-card policies while visiting San Francisco, New Orleans, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, New York City, Washington D.C., and other cities. Despite lacking receipts and other documentation, university officials also charged expenses from Spain, Vietnam, Thailand, and China to the Westfield State Foundation, the school’s nonprofit fund-raising arm. In particular, the report criticized university officials for using school credit cards for personal expenses, regardless of whether the money was reimbursed; booking trips with little advance notice; changing or canceling flights; and running up excessive costs for meals and hotel rooms.
Palmer, Mohegan Sun Unveil Host-community Agreement for Casino
PALMER — The town of Palmer and Mohegan Sun announced a host-community agreement last month, revealing millions of dollars in mitigation payments and setting the stage for a referendum date so residents can vote on the casino proposal. The agreement features an annual mitigation payment of $15.2 million to the town, plus shares of gaming revenues, as well as an additional, one-time $2.94 million fee for public safety and streetscape improvements in the business and commercial districts. The agreement was signed by Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, and Palmer Town Manager Charles Blanchard. “This is way more than just a walk-in casino. It will have all the components of a resort destination that will bring people from miles and miles around,” Etess said. In the first year of the casino’s operation, the mitigation payment to the town would be $18 million based on gaming revenue. Mohegan officials asked for a referendum date of Nov. 5, which the Town Council approved last week. Mohegan Sun has proposed a nearly $1 billion resort casino on 152 acres owned by Northeast Realty across from the Massachusetts Turnpike exit 8. The plan faces competition for the sole Western Mass. casino license from MGM Resorts International in Springfield and Hard Rock New England in West Springfield. The state Gaming Commission is expected to award the license in April. In addition to the mitigation payments, the Mohegan Sun project is expected to generate an estimated $900,000 to $1.4 million in annual hotel-occupancy taxes and an additional $225,000 in annual meals taxes to the town. The agreement calls for more than $40 million in improvements to the town’s infrastructure system. The casino would feature 3,000 slot machines and 80 table games in an approximately 320,000-square-foot facility. Also included in the plan is a 250-room hotel and conference center, a casual-dining restaurant, and a fine-dining restaurant, as well as a 230,000-square-foot retail development featuring more dining options and other entertainment, and a second, 300-room hotel with a water park. More than 3,000 jobs are expected to be created between the casino, water park, and retail complex.
Mass. Medical Society Issues Guide to ACOs Targeted to Physicians
WALTHAM — The Mass. Medical Society has released a new publication for physicians and their practice managers, “MMS Guide to Accountable Care Organizations: What Physicians Need to Know.” The 49-page publication provides detailed guidance on the issues that physicians should consider whether they are currently participating in an accountable-care organization, forming or joining an ACO, or entering into an integration agreement with another healthcare organization. These issues include assessing the readiness of a practice to join an ACO, choosing the right ACO, how to approach an ACO, technology considerations, legal and governance issues, financial impacts, and achieving clinical integration. “It’s becoming more and more difficult for independent practices to compete effectively in today’s healthcare system,” said Dr. Ronald Dunlap, president of the Mass. Medical Society. “Many physicians are reassessing their role in this rapidly evolving system. For some, this means becoming an employee of a larger healthcare organization. Others may want to retain some of their professional autonomy, while integrating some aspects of their practice with an ACO. These are complex issues, and there is a great need for objective, third-party information. It’s our hope that this guide will help them in the decision-making process. The book was written for the MMS and its physicians by Chris Collins, a principal at ECG Management Consultants of Boston, and J. Mark Waxman, a senior partner in the Boston office of the law firm Foley & Lardner. It is available to MMS members at www.massmed.org/acoguide.