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Roundup: Potential buyers eye Liberty Center; beer industry growing; more

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Agents: Starwood, others eye deal for Liberty Center

Starwood Capital Group of Greenwich, Conn., has expressed interest in purchasing Liberty Center, Downtown, and has looked at the property, local real estate agents said. The investment firm with assets of $36 billion has contacted local commercial real estate brokers about the complex, which Forest City Enterprises of Cleveland placed on the market through CBRE Inc. Tom Johnson, a Starwood spokesman, declined to comment. Jeffrey Ackerman, who with Gerry Dudley, will become managing director of the CBRE Pittsburgh office in March, said, “We have been talking to a number of parties regarding Liberty Center, most of them out-of-town institutional buyers.” But Ackerman said no deal has been concluded on the property, which includes the 618-room Westin Convention Center Hotel. Liberty Center, at 1001 Liberty Ave., is a 27-story complex that includes Federal Investors office tower, a 580-car underground parking garage, restaurants, ballrooms and meeting rooms, and a pedestrian bridge from the hotel over Penn Avenue to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Appaloosa bullish on stocks

David Tepper, the hedge-fund manager who runs the $15 billion Appaloosa Management LP and is the namesake for the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said he's bullish on stocks as the economy is set to grow by as much as 3 percent this year. “This country is on the verge of an explosion of greatness,” Tepper said Tuesday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “The key is to be long equities this year.” Short Hills, N.J.-based Appaloosa, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, returned 30 percent in 2012, he said. Tepper, 55, made his last big call on equities in 2009, when his fund returned 130 percent betting on bank stocks in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Report: Pa. beer industry flourishes

A new legislative report says the number of breweries in Pennsylvania doubled over a recent 10-year period, and suggests changes to law that would help the beer industry. The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee study released Tuesday found more than 100 breweries operating at the end of 2011, more than twice as many as there were in 2001. By one survey, Pennsylvania breweries' output grew from 3.6 million barrels in 2010 to 4.3 million barrels in 2011. The study says Pennsylvania breweries have a direct impact on the state's economy of more than $1 billion. Investment in plants and equipment is on the rise, as is brewery-related employment. The committee suggests changes to the Liquor Code in response to the boom in craft breweries.

UPMC cancer centers accredited

UPMC's network of cancer centers received accreditation by the American College of Radiation Oncology, making it the largest cancer network in the country to be accredited in radiation oncology. Twenty of the 21 UPMC CancerCenter sites in Western Pennsylvania were accredited, UPMC said. The only one that didn't is located at UPMC East in Monroeville, which opened in July. That center will be eligible for accreditation after being open for one year. About 7,000 cancer patients receive radiation treatment at UPMC CancerCenter sites a year.

II-VI profit dips 8% to $12.2M

II-VI Inc said Tuesday its profit for the three months ended Dec. 31 fell 8 percent to $12.2 million, or 19 cents a share. “Revenues from our recent acquisitions during the quarter helped to offset demand weakness that we experienced during the last few weeks of the quarter,” CEO Francis J. Kramer said. Revenue was down 1 percent to $125.9 million. The Saxonburg-based manufacturer of crystalline compounds for infrared laser optics and other products made three acquisitions in its second quarter: M Cubed Technologies Inc., the thin film filter business and interleaver product line of Oclaro Inc. and LightWorks Optics Inc. II-VI's profit for the same quarter a year ago was $13.3 million, or 21 cents a share. Bookings for the quarter increased 9 percent to $127.1 million.

Dell nears leveraged buyout

Dell Inc. is getting closer to clinching a leveraged buyout with Silver Lake Management LLC, and Microsoft Corp. is planning to provide part of the funding, people with knowledge of the matter said. Silver Lake and Dell are negotiating a price in the range of $13.50 to $14.25 a share. Microsoft is discussing contributing about $2 billion for the deal, which could be announced this week. Microsoft stands to benefit from propping up Dell, one of its largest partners in selling personal computers that run Windows software.

— From staff and wire reports

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