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Duke Energy responds to investor call to split up

One of the largest shareholders at Duke Energy wants the company to separate into three regional entities — one for the Carolinas, one for Florida and one for the Midwest. Elliott Investment Management said in a letter to Duke that a separation would lead to improved execution, better system reliability, lower costs and increased investment in critical infrastructure, including renewables. In Florida, specifically, Elliott said that, "relative to the other two key Florida investor-owned utilities [Florida Power & Light and Tampa Electric], Duke Energy Florida has residential customer rates that are approximately 30% higher, unit costs that are 40%–120% higher and the lowest rate base growth." Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) said in a press release that its board of director has reviewed previous proposals from Elliott and determined they are not in the best interest of the company, its shareholders and other stakeholders. Duke, which said it is always open to new ideas to create growth and value,  said the board will look at Elliott's latest plan. Duke Energy Florida, headquartered in St. Petersburg, serves about 1.8 million customers. Melissa Seixas was named president of Duke Energy Florida earlier this year.

AMN Healthcare Services buys St. Pete’s Synzi

AMN Healthcare Services, a Dallas-based healthcare staffing company, bought St. Petersburg-based Synzi and its wholly owned subsidiary SnapMD for $42.5 million in cash. Synzi is a virtual care communication platform that enables organizations to conduct virtual visits and use secure messaging, text and email for clinician-to-patient and clinician-to-clinician communications. SnapMD is a full-service virtual care management company, specializing in providing software to enable healthcare providers to better engage their patients. The deal closed on April 7, according to a regulatory filing by AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AMN). AMN last year acquired Stratus Video, a Clearwater firm that has since been rebranded as AMN Language Services.

Registration open for Coffee Pot Turkey Trot

The 5th annual Coffee Pot Turkey Trot 5K, a family-friendly 5K run looping around St. Petersburg’s Coffee Pot Bayou, will be held Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 25. Registration is now open. Register here.

The Florida Orchestra celebrates Janet Paroo

Friends of The Florida Orchestra and outgoing TFO board chair Janet Paroo gathered at the Mahaffey Theater Saturday night to celebrate her years of service in the role.  Conductor Michael Francis lead a socially distanced group of musicians through a collection of Paroo's favorites. The evening ended with a special request - an orchestral version of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon," with guest vocals by Alex Harris. 

CNN: Former St. Pete hospital owner sues patients during pandemic

Hospitals owned by Community Health Systems have sued at least 19,000 patients during the Covid-19 pandemic, seeking to collect unpaid medical bills, according to a report from CNN. The CHS hospitals took court action even as other hospitals around the country moved to curtail similar lawsuits during the pandemic, CNN reported. CHS is the former owner of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. Although CHS sold Bayfront to Orlando Health last year, CHS held onto the rights to claim all bills for medical services during its ownership of the hospital, CNN reported. After the sale, CHS sued more than 400 patients in October, CNN reported, adding that Bayfront was among the most litigious hospital companies in the CHS network, filing more than 800 debt-related lawsuits since mid-March 2020. Orlando Health has in a statement that it has not sued any Bayfront patients over unpaid bills. CHS told CNN that its hospitals only sue a "small fraction" of the patients they treat every year, and that they work to provide assistance for those who can't afford their bills. Read the full CNN report here.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s strengthens financials

Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital reported $23.3 million in net income from operations for the three months ended March 31, compared to a $14.2 million loss in the same period a year ago. The turnaround at the 259-bed St. Petersburg pediatric hospital was due in part to an increase in federal CARES Act funding and increased net patient revenues due to a higher collection rate, according to a report from parent organization Johns Hopkins Health System.. The report also cited lower personnel costs due to a reduction in full-time equivalent workers and lower medical supply costs due to decreased volumes. Operating revenue for the three months ended March 31, the third quarter of the fiscal year, was $141.9 million, compared to $122.6 million a year ago.

Publix lifts mask requirement for fully vaccinated shoppers

Publix will no longer require fully vaccinated customers or employees to wear masks. Kids also score a win in the move back to normalcy as the policy update includes reinstating free cookies. 

Derek Jeter’s Davis Island mansion sells for $22.5 million

Last rented by Tom Brady, the 21,796 square-feet mansion was originally listed for $29 million and sold after 8 months on the market. 

Minnesota man sentenced in fraud scheme tied to Pinellas County company

Jeremy Anderson was sentenced to 12 years and 7 months in federal prison for his role in an investment fraud scheme involving Tri-Med Corp., a now-defunct business in Palm Harbor. Anderson, who was the founder and principal owner of Tri-Med, pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and mail and wire fraud. According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, Anderson led a conspiracy that defrauded more than 200 victims, most of them elderly, and who had invested a good portion of their life savings, out of more than $10.3 million through investments offered in connection with Tri-Med. Anderson, who now lives in Minnesota, was the fourth person to be charged and sentenced as part of the scheme. Anthony Nicholas Jr. of Hudson, and Eric Ager and Irwin Ager, both of Orlando, were sentenced earlier.

Shorecrest teacher named Albert Einstein Educator Fellow

Selene Willis, a teacher at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, is one of 18 educators from across the United States  named 2021-2022 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellows. The program provides an opportunity for K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers to apply their extensive classroom knowledge and experiences to inform federal STEM education efforts. The fellows will spend 11 months serving in a federal agency or U.S. Congressional office in Washington, D.C., engaged in the national STEM education arena, a news release said. Willis, with a decade of teaching experience, joined Shorecrest in 2014 and teaches fifth grade science, the school's website said.

Skyway Capital Markets adds managing director

Skyway Capital Markets appointed Bart Zanelli as managing director with a focus on financial institutions, insurance and healthcare. Zanelli has more than 30 years of experience transacting mergers and acquisitions, public and private capital raising and private equity investing, a news release said. He has served on the boards of Direct General Corp., Benefit Technologies and ABRA Auto Body Collision Centers and helped raise more than $100 million for a sponsored financial services private equity investment fund from JP Morgan Chase, Dresdner Bank, ING, and Gerling Global. Skyway Capital Markets, headquartered in Tampa, works with middle market companies, public and private, through customized capital services that include corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, and recapitalization.

Tampa elearning company in line for new private equity owner

Genstar Capital has agreed to buy a majority ownership stake in Vector Solutions, a Tampa company that provides online learning and performance solutions. Genstar is acquiring Vector from Golden Gate Capital, private equity investment firm that will remain a significant shareholder in the business. The deal is expected to close in the next 45 days, a news release said. Financial terms were not disclosed. Vector is one of the largest privately held companies in the Tampa-St. Pete area, and over the course of its 20-year history it has been led by well-known leaders in the technology industry, including Tom Wallace, now managing partner of Florida Funders. Golden Gate Capital bought Vector in 2018 and last year promoted Marc Scheipe from chief operating officer to CEO. Genstar is a private equity firm based in San Francisco. 

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