Sonnax Industries,by Bruce Edwards Vermont Business Magazine Sonnax Industries Inc, a maker of automatic transmission parts in Bellows Falls, was sold in early April to Marmon Holdings, Inc, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway. Sonnax was an employee-owned company, whose ESOP was sued by the US Department of Labor, as first reported by VBM in January 2017. According to a press release and email, the new company will operate as Sonnax Transmission Company. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. The company will remain in Vermont.Sonnax has been one of Vermont’s fastest growing manufacturers with three plants in Bellows Falls. Revenues over the last 10 years have nearly doubled.At the end of last year, Sonnax had 246 employees with 200 in Vermont and 46 in New Jersey. In 2017 it reported to VBM that revenues were $67.5 million.Steve Boyer, left, with Sonnax Industries CEO Tommy Harmon. Courtesy photo.As an employee-owned company, the sale was overwhelmingly approved by a vote of Sonnax employees. Steve Boyer was named the new president of Sonnax Transmission. The company said Boyers will work closely with Sonnax Industries CEO Tommy Harmon to ensure a smooth transition into Marmon.“Joining Marmon affords Sonnax employees the support and stability of a very successful global organization while maintaining its homegrown, entrepreneurial feel,” Harmon said in a statement. “Above all, this expands what we can deliver to our customers, so our future is bright.”Marmon Holdings is an umbrella company for 175 independent manufacturing and service businesses with facilities in 23 countries and total revenues exceeding $7.7 billion in 2017.As for the lawsuit, the DOL alleged that the new employee owners were charged too much for the company.The DOL’s James Lally told VBM in an email that the Sonnax litigation was stayed, pending anticipated settlement, following a mediation held on November 17, 2017. The court granted the stay on November 27 “conditioned upon a contingent event which is highly likely to occur, but which is not certain to occur. This contingent event will occur, if it occurs, within the next 90 to 120 days.”If the sale of Sonnax was the “contingent event,” it came at the tail-end of the 120-day window described in the court filing. The press release announcing the sale to Marmon was dated April 4, 2018.Tristram Coffin of Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC of Burlington represented Sonnax, Harmon, Fritz and the Sonnax ESOP.Coffin told the Brattleboro Reformer(link is external) that the sale price was “well over $65 million,” with employees getting three times the value of their shares. This would put the sale price in the range of its annual revenues.ESOPThe US DOL alleged that First Bankers Trust Services, Inc’s 2011 purchase of the company on behalf of the ESOP from its two previous owners caused the plan to suffer sizable financial losses.Named in the suit (filed with the US District Court District of Vermont December 28, 2016) were Sonnax, a supplier of automotive drivetrain products; Tommy Harmon, its president and chief executive officer; Frederick Fritz, a board member with substantial company control; and First Bankers, headquartered in Quincy, Illinois.Sonnax, Harmon and Fritz hired First Bankers in 2010 as an independent fiduciary to advise the ESOP on whether, and at what price, to purchase shares of Sonnax from Harmon and Fritz. All defendants are fiduciaries of and parties in interest to the ESOP.The DOL complaint says, in part, “First Bankers caused the ESOP to overpay for Sonnax stock by millions of dollars.” And DOL maintains that Sonnax, Harmon and Fritz knew it was too high, “or should have known.”SEE LAWSUIT(link is external)On January 3, 2011, the company purchased all of Harmon’s and Fritz’s stock shares for $48.8 million and issued new shares simultaneously which were sold to the ESOP for $10 million. The department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration(link is external) investigated and found that First Bankers’ valuation that justified the sale was flawed and its representation of the ESOP during negotiations deficient, resulting in a significant inflation of the purchase price.According to Vermont Business Magazine, Sonnax had revenue of $45.8 million in 2011. Sonnax was named a Best Places to Work in Vermont in 2012 and 2014. The designation relies heavily on anonymous employee surveys.The sale of a firm for one-time annual revenues is a common benchmark for judging the value of a company, which is about what Sonnax was sold for. Of course, other factors such as debt factor into any valuation.In its suit, the DOL alleged that the defendants violated ERISA’s prohibited transaction and fiduciary duty provisions.It further alleges First Bankers:Failed to protect the ESOP in connection with the plan’s purchase of Sonnax stock from Harmon and Fritz.Relied on a flawed valuation of the stock.Did not prudently investigate the transaction’s merits.Purchased highly leveraged Sonnax stock for far more than fair market value, with the aid and knowledge of Sonnax, Harmon and Fritz.Sonnax, Harmon and Fritz knew that First Bankers’ work was flawed yet failed to ensure that First Bankers fulfilled its fiduciary duties, the DOL complaint states. They also failed to prevent the ESOP’s purchase at what they knew or should have known was an inflated price, and participated knowingly in First Bankers’ fiduciary breaches and otherwise failed to comply with their own fiduciary duties.First Bankers Trust Services, Inc settled three separate ESOP cases involving the US DOL in November 2017. The Illinois-based financial institution now must undertake enhanced oversight in financing any future ESOPs.In the Sonnax case, the DOL alleged that First Bankers Trust Services, Inc’s 2011 purchase of the company on behalf of the ESOP from its two previous owners (Harmon and Fritz) caused the plan to suffer sizable financial losses.In the other cases, the DOL reached agreements to resolve three lawsuits with First Bankers Trust Services, which alleged that FBTS violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) when it approved stock purchases by three Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs). As part of the agreements, FBTS will pay $15.75 million to the plans and reform its procedures for handling ESOP transactions.The Department filed suit against FBTS in 2012 in the U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of New York and the District of New Jersey. The lawsuits followed investigations by the New York office of the Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) into the FBTS decisions to authorize ESOPs sponsored by Maran Inc., Rembar Co. Inc., and SJP Group, Inc., to purchase stock in their respective companies. FBTS will pay $8 million to the SJP ESOP; $6,642,857 to the Maran ESOP; and $1,107,143 to the Rembar ESOP.“These settlements provide not only for reimbursement to these ESOPs and their participants, they commit First Bankers Trust Services to clear procedures to enhance and ensure proper compliance in the future,” said the Department’s Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff, in New York.“It is imperative that the price a plan pays for the plan sponsor’s stock reflects its true market value and that those retained to advise a plan about the stock purchase fulfill their fiduciary duties,” said EBSA Regional Director Jonathan Kay, in New York.Timothy McQuiston contributed to this report.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInPOLICE Officers from Dumfries and Galloway Road Policing Unit have seized drugs worth an estimated street value of £105,000.Around 5:10pm on Wednesday 6 March 2019, officers carrying out routine patrols on the A74(M) had reason to stop an Audi A6 car on the A74 northbound, near to Coatsgate, Moffat. On speaking with the driver, officers detected a smell of what they believed was cannabis. Following a search of the car, officers discovered a quantity of herbal cannabis, worth an estimated street value of £105,000.A 30 year old man was arrested and charged in connection with the seizure, he was due to appear at Dumfries Sheriff Court on Thursday 7 March 2019.
242 Views one comment Sharing is caring! Share Share EducationLocalNewsTertiary DSC beats Nurses Association in debating competition by: – May 14, 2018 Share Tweet DSC Team: Ellen Commodore, Ashford Morris and Ogechi InginerieEllen Commodore, Ashford Morris and Ogechi Inginerie of the Dominica State College’s (DSC) Debating Club, outperformed three nurses in a debating competition on Saturday 12 May 2018.The students obtained two hundred and ninety-five (295) points while the Dominica Nurses Association’s (DNA) team Benicka Benjamin, Athenia Ambo and Yolanda Rodney Jno. Baptiste obtained two hundred and seventy-two (272) points.The debate, which was held at the Dominica Public Service Union building in Roseau, was part of activities to commemorate Nurses Week 2018 and International Nurses Day which was observed on Saturday.The DSC Team proposed the topic, ‘Nurses who have gained training and experience in the Dominican health sector should not migrate post natural disaster’ and won favor with judges Kimone Joseph, Dionne Durand-Smith and Tim Durand.Ashford Norris was judged best speaker on the proposing team while Benicka Benjamin won best speaker on the opposing team.The DSC Team was awarded two hundred dollars and a gift voucher for three at the Great Old Stone Restaurant in Roseau while the DNA Team received free hair service vouchers compliments Liz Beauty Salon in Roseau.The Dominica State College is the reigning Windward Islands Debating Competition champion. They also won the inaugural competition in March 2017.
Matt Medley is co-editor at NEO Sports Insiders, covers the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Indians and high school sports in Northeast Ohio.Follow @MedleyHoops on Twitter for live updates from games. Matt Medley Related TopicsCavsCleveland CavaliersNBATristan Thompson When Tristan Thompson plays the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena, it will be his 362nd consecutive game played, breaking the franchise record, held by Jim Chones.That streak is also the longest active-streak in the NBA.Thompson signed a five-year deal for $82 million back in November, causing many fans to feel like he was overpaid. Maybe some fans underrated his significance and value on this team. Night in and night out, the Cavs can count on Thompson to grab double-digit rebounds and work hard to get extra possessions with offensive boards, as well.When fans see what players are getting paid after the salary cap goes up in Summer of 2016 and 2017, that 16 mil. per year is going to look like chump change for guys of Thompson’s caliber.We’ll see how long “Double T” can keep that streak going. The record is 1,192 games played by A.C. Green, so Thompson has a long way to go before even thinking about that, but one thing about the Canadian power forward is that he has not missed a game since he was drafted in 2011.
Belgium will face five-time World Cup winners Brazil in the quarterfinals at the ongoing tournament in Russia after they came from two goals down to beat Japan 3-2 in their last 16 clash.After a goalless first half, the game sprung into life in the first minute of the second half when Hannover 96 star Genki Haraguchi gave Japan a shock lead.Takashi Inui added a second goal six minutes but that proved to spark the Belgians into life with the team staring elimination in the face.Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen pulled one back for Roberto Martinez’ side on 69 minutes before substitute Marouane Fellaini levelled proceedings for the Red Devils five minutes.It was Fellaini’s 18th international goal for Belgium.By this time, the Group G winners were in full control and the pressure finally paid off when another substitute Nacer Chadli scored the winning goal in added time to save his side from the troubles of extra time.With the win, Belgium will now face Brazil in their second successive World Cup quarterfinal with the hope that the latest installment turns out to be positive following the 1-0 defeat they suffered at the hands of Argentina during the last edition in Brazil. RelatedBrazil Overpower Mexico Into World Cup QuartersJuly 2, 2018In “FIFA”Belgium Beat Rivals England To Top Group GJune 28, 2018In “FIFA”Belgium Survive Brazil Onslaught To Setup Semifinal Meeting With FranceJuly 6, 2018In “FIFA”
Francois Duhamel/Netflix(LOS ANGELES) — Ahead of its Toronto International Film Festival premiere next month, Netflix has dropped the first trailer for Dolemite Is My Name.The film, based on real-life actor and producer Rudy Ray Moore, stars Murphy as the legendary comedian/actor, who made a name for himself in the ’70s by creating the character Dolemite, an eccentric pimp and hustler. Moore initially performed the character on comedy albums, which he sold in the inner city. Eventually, he financed his first film, Dolemite, in 1975. Moore followed the success of that film with three sequels.“A man slams a door in my face, I just find another door,” says Murphy as Moore in the trailer. “I want the world to know I exist.”In addition to Murphy, the film stars Wesley Snipes, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, T.I., Keegan-Michael Key, Tituss Burgess and Da’Vine Joy Randolph.Hustle and Flow’s Craig Brewster directed Dolemite Is My Name, which is set to hit theaters this fall.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus vividly remembers watching the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.He was just 22 years old at the time and just finding his feet in what would prove to be a hugely successful professional rugby career that saw him earn 36 Test caps for the Boks between 1997 and 2001.Now, all these years later, Erasmus is on the verge of etching his name in the history books by guiding the Boks to their third Webb Ellis Cup.The Boks take on England on Saturday in the tournament final, and the excitement in South Africa is reaching new heights this week.Erasmus knows exactly how much a win would mean to the public back home and on Thursday he remembered looking on as Francois Pienaar and his side made history in 1995.“In ’95, I was a student in Bloemfontein, and we were staying on the rugby fields there by the university grounds,” he recalled.“I was sharing a house with Naka Drotské, who was playing in the World Cup final.“We were all watching the game at the university rugby grounds, which is where I was in 1995.“We all know what impact that had for our country and should we win it on Saturday. It has already had a big impact for us.“We do have some challenges in our country at different levels and at different avenues.“But rugby is one of the things that – for a few minutes and sometimes a few hours, days and months if we win – people seem to forget about their disagreements for a while, and agree.“What we experienced from 2007 and 1995, they then agree for a long while, and you can fix a lot of things in that time. In South Africa, we need that, and we can feel that.“That is definitely for us an extra motivation for Saturday, that we know we are trying to win for us 23 (players), but that is the last thing whom we are trying to win for.“We are trying to win for South Africa, and not just because they are supporters, but because our country needs a lot of things that we want to fix, and we want to help fix that.”For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.