Thursday, December 31, 2015

Calling Avon


Must be the guests beginning to show up to the party.

"Human remains identified as man who was kidnapped two years ago" by Peter Schworm Globe Staff  December 30, 2015

UPTON — Nearly two years ago, James J. Robertson was driven away from his family’s Avon home by two men dressed as constables, who said he needed to take a surprise drug test for his probation.

Robertson, who was 37, never returned, and was presumed dead. The man accused of orchestrating his bizarre kidnapping told authorities his body would never be found.

But on Wednesday, authorities announced that human remains found last week in woods in Upton had been identified as Robertson, an unlikely discovery that brought a measure of closure to his loved ones.

“It’s somewhat of a relief to the family,” Michael Morrissey, the Norfolk district attorney, said during a news conference at the Upton Police Department. “They had always feared the worst.”

Three men have been charged in connection to Robertson’s kidnapping, authorities said. Authorities said it was too early to say whether they will face murder charges.

“We have to follow the evidence,” Morrissey said.

James M. Feeney, an alleged drug dealer from Dedham, is accused of having hatched the kidnapping plot as revenge for Robertson’s romantic involvement with his former girlfriend. He also suspected that Robertson had informed against him, according to court records....


Related: Who Rubbed Out James Robertson?

Time to put that case to rest.

"Avon selling business in N. America to Cerberus" by Nick Turner and Lauren Coleman-Lochner Bloomberg News  December 18, 2015

NEW YORK — Avon Products Inc. will split off its North American business as part of a $605 million deal with private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, letting the beleaguered cosmetics giant focus on its more promising international business.

Cerberus will acquire an 80 percent interest in the North American division for $170 million, according to a statement Thursday. That business, which has struggled to attract new sales representatives, has been a drag on the company. Operating income in the unit has fallen four years in a row, including a 14 percent decline last year.

This in an age of alleged economic recovery.

The move follows reports earlier this month that Avon was close to selling the North American business — a deal that drew concern from some investors. A shareholder group led by Barington Capital Group urged Avon to pursue a restructuring plan instead, rather than unloading its North American division at a “fire sale” price. Barington reiterated those concerns on Thursday, though other investors seemed satisfied with the deal, sending the shares up as much as 17 percent.

As part of the Cerberus agreement, the investment firm will make a $435 million investment in the parent company. The North American business will assume about $230 million in long-term debt from the parent company, which will contribute $100 million in cash to the new entity. It’s a novel approach, according to Carol Levenson, an analyst at Gimme Credit LLC.

“Hiving off one region of such an interconnected business seems the opposite of synergistic,” she said in a note to clients. “But perhaps the hope is that if Cerberus can turn around North America, it could set a pattern for turning around the rest of the world.”

The company also suspended its quarterly dividend, saying it would reinvest that money in the business. Avon is on track for its fourth straight year of sales declines, hurt in part by a consumer shift in North America. Fewer customers there are buying products from door-to-door salespeople — Avon’s hallmark. Shedding the domestic business will make it easier for the company to grow profitably overseas, said Avon Chief Executive Officer Sheri McCoy. Avon will use about $250 million from proceeds to pay down debt.

The shares fell to $4.03 at the close in New York Thursday. Even after the deal discussions sparked a rally in recent weeks, the stock has still lost more than half its value this year.

Avon also is shaking up its board as part of the deal, with Cerberus bringing on several directors.

“The separation of Avon North America is the best way to ensure that both businesses have an unencumbered path to profitability and growth,” McCoy said. “This was a key principle as we considered alternatives.”

Barington, meanwhile, voiced reservations about the deal.

“Cerberus clearly recognizes, like us, that Avon is an extremely valuable brand,” Barington chief executive James A. Mitarotonda said in a statement. “The Avon board apparently does not — it has sold 80 percent of its North American business and a 16.6 percent stake in the company at what we believe are ‘fire sale’ prices.”

The firm, which has previously called for management changes at Avon, said it would explore “all available options.”

“While we are pleased that six existing board members have agreed to step down, we are astonished that Sheri McCoy remains as CEO,” Mitarotonda said....


This might astonish you:

Catholic Caritas Makes Deal With the Devil 

Six years years later Cerberus is on life support.