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St. Pete man makes Forbes list of richest Americans

Ronald Wanek, the founder of America's largest home furniture manufacturer and retailer, Ashley Furniture, is No. 250 on the new Forbes 400, a list of the wealthiest people in America. Wanek, who lives in St. Petersburg, has a net worth of $3.4 billion, according to Forbes. Wanek has donated millions to the Mayo Clinic to help improve treatment for a heart defect that affected his granddaughter at birth, Forbes said. Two other area residents also made the new list: real estate magnate Edward Debartolo Jr. of Tampa, No. 319 with a net worth of $2.7 billion, and Todd Christopher of Clearwater, founder of hair care products company Vogue International, No. 370 with a net worth of $2.2 billion.

Agency affirms credit rating of St. Pete insurer

AM Best has affirmed the financial strength rating of A- (Excellent) and the long-term issuer credit rating of “a-” of Journey Insurance Co. in St. Petersburg. The outlook of these credit ratings is stable. The ratings reflect Journey’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as very strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management, a news release said. Journey is majority owned by St. Petersburg-based United Insurance Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: UIHC).

Florida AG backs T-Mobile/Sprint merger

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody joined the U.S. Department of Justice and 10 other states in support of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger. Florida’s support is part of an agreement reached earlier this week to address Florida-specific concerns, including concessions to protect Florida jobs and improving infrastructure, a news release said. One commitment the companies made was to continue to operate a major customer experience center in the Tampa area that employs at least 800 employees for at least six years following the closing date. T-Mobile/Sprint also agreed to deploy a 5G network in Florida that reaches at least 76 percent of the state population and to market its in-home broadband service product to at least 710,000 households in Florida. The merger is opposed by 18 attorneys general, who say it would hurt competition and raise prices, according to Engadget.

ReliaQuest plans to buy Austin-based cyber defense firm

ReliaQuest, a Tampa-based cybersecurity provider for businesses, agreed to acquire Threatcare, a cyber defense company in Austin. The acquisition will boost protection for ReliaQuest's business customers by providing integrated threat simulations that validate controls, content and workflows instantly, enabling proactive improvement of security programs, a news release said.  Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Threatcare employees will join ReliaQuest, and Marcus Carey, CEO and founder of Threatcare, will join ReliaQuest's Office of the CTO. ReliaQuest expects to roll out the new attack simulation capabilities in early 2020. 

Rays attendance up slightly in 2019

The Tampa Bay Rays had a 2 percent jump in attendance at their 80 regular season home games in 2019. Still, the Rays were No. 29 out of 30 Major League Baseball teams, with 2019 attendance at 1,178,735, an average of 14,734 attendees per game at Tropicana Field. That's up from attendance of 1,154,973, or 14,258 per game, in 2018, when the Rays played 81 games at home, but far below the nearly 4 million spectators who turned out this year for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the MLB attendance leader, according to ESPN. The Rays face the Oakland A's in Oakland tomorrow in the American League Wild Card game, and could return to the Trop for the division series if they win that game.

Hyde House lands anchor tenant

Tampa advertising agency Schifino Lee will move to Hyde House in Hyde Park Village as an anchor and founding member in November. Hyde House is a coworking/gathering space in Hyde Park Village in Tampa that's being developed by St. Petersburg-based Station House. Employees will get to work around different people and perspectives and will be able to access amenities that are better than what any single business could otherwise afford, a news release said. Hyde House also handles administrative and technical aspects, such as WiFi, utilities, and furniture, allowing Schifino Lee to focus on delivering superior service and eye-catching creative to its clients, the news release said.

Valet Living buys Concierge Services

Valet Living, a Tampa company that provides amenities for residential living, has bought Concierge Services of Atlanta, a concierge service provider for commercial and residential real estate. The purchase price was not disclosed. Concierge Services reaches 40 properties in Atlanta, and Valet Living plans to expand that nationwide, a news release said. 

Raymond James names new C-level exec

Raymond James Financial (NYSE: RJF) has a new chief operating officer and new leadership in the firms's asset management services division. The changes are part of a long-term succession plan, a news release said. Jeff Dowdle, who has been chief administrative officer and president of the asset management group, was named COO of the St. Petersburg-based financial services company, effective immediately. Former COO Dennis Zank retired last year. Erik Fruland, who was chief operating officer of asset management services, was promoted to president of the division. Al Caudullo, senior vice president of operations, will replace Fruland as COO in asset management services.

PepsiCo signs sponsorship deal with Lightning, Amalie Arena

Tampa Bay Lightning fans and others attending events at Amalie Arena will be drinking PepsiCo beverages instead of Coca-Cola, after PepsiCo North America Beverages signed a seven-year deal making it a championship level partner with the Lightning and the arena. Financial terms were not disclosed in a news release announcing the deal. In addition to serving beverages, PepsiCo will have signage on the arena's west patio, the primary entrance used by arena guests to enter and exit the building, as well as static and digital signage throughout the arena for Lightning games, concerts and events, beginning with the Lightning's regular season opening game, this Thursday, Oct. 3, versus the Florida Panthers.  

Palm Harbor medical staffing agency acquired

Loyal Source in Orlando has bought SonosTemps in Palm Harbor. SonosTemps is a medical staffing agency specializing in medical imaging services. The move allows Loyal Source, a workforce solutions company providing  contracting services worldwide, to offer a more complete line of medical services for its clients, a news release said. Financial terms were not disclosed.  

Publix IT director named to Florida cybersecurity task force

The director of information technology and compliance at Publix Super Markets Inc. is one of eight people appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to the Florida Cybersecurity Task Force. In his time at Publix, Bernard Kelly has held leadership positions including senior system analyst, applications architect and senior information technology manager, a news release said.  The task force must review and assess the state’s cybersecurity infrastructure, governance and operations; analyze and identify potential improvements of state government cybersecurity programs, including individual state agencies; and prioritize the risks posed by identified threats.

KnowBe4 buys video production company

Clearwater cybersecurity training company KnowBe4 acquired Twist and Shout Group, a video production and media company based in the United Kingdom and the United States. Financial terms were not disclosed in a news release. Twist and Shout produced The Inside Man for KnowBe4 earlier this year.  It's a 12-episode video series that brings the pitfalls in office IT security to life. "This acquisition will greatly benefit our customers because it will provide them with even more content to help educate their employees on a very important topic," said Stu Sjouwerman, KnowBe4 CEO.

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