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In brief

Businesses and homeowners have until Nov. 3 to apply for loans to cover property damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

SBA sets deadlines for Irene aid

The U.S. Small Business Administration has set a Nov. 3 deadline for businesses and residents to apply for loans to cover property damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

The agency also is allowing applications for aid covering economic injury to be filed through June 4, 2012.

Household-damage loans from the SBA carry an interest rate of 2.5 percent if homeowner cannot find credit elsewhere, and 5 percent if they can. Under the same schedule, business-damage loans carry interest rates of 4 percent and 6 percent, and nonprofits are charged interest of 3 percent and 3.3 percent.

The SBA economic-damage loans for businesses carry a 4 percent interest rate, regardless of whether an owner can obtain a loan through traditional channels. The SBA business loans carry a limit of $2 million, which can be waived if a company is deemed a major employer.

 

Ambase wins big award

Greenwich-based Ambase Corp. said a federal appeals judge has ordered the U.S. government to pay it damages totaling $205 million, an amount that could expand with the addition of a tax gross-up if applicable.

The case dates to 1993, when Ambase sought recompense for the loss of its investment in Carteret Savings Bank, once New Jersey’s largest savings and loan institution. Ambase acquired Carteret in 1988. The federal Office of Thrift Supervision seized the bank in 1992 and placed it under receivership under the authority of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 passed by Congress to address the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s.

Today Ambase is a shell company with total assets valued at less than $11 million.

Some 120 similar “supervisory goodwill” lawsuits were filed by other financial institutions, with several still pending in the Court of Federal Claims. Ambase said the case could be appealed further, without providing additional details.

 

Survey: Economy bleak entering autumn

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said the tristate economy remains sluggish entering the fall, with commercial office vacancies edging up in Fairfield County and Westchester County, N.Y.

In its ongoing “Beige Book” survey of area businesses, the Federal Reserve said that bankers report reduced demand for consumer and commercial and industrial loans, widespread increases in household delinquency rates, and some tightening in credit standards for commercial and industrial loans and commercial mortgages.

A major New York City employment agency reported that hiring activity was unusually slow in August but remained cautiously optimistic that recruitment will pick up after Labor Day. Financial firms, in particular, have become more hesitant and even hiring for compliance jobs has slowed, the bank said. Separately, a contact in the securities industry reported that widespread layoffs are planned across the industry.

 

Bolt Technology won a U.S. Navy contract for its SeaBotix robots. Credit: Tane Casserley

Bolt lands Navy contract

Bolt Technology Corp. subsidiary SeaBotix Inc. tallied August orders totaling $3.5 million, thanks in part to a contract to supply the U.S. Navy with underwater robots for use in identifying mines and improvised explosive devices.

Norwalk-based Bolt also sells devices that emit underwater air bubbles to help oil exploration companies take seismic readings of the ocean floor. For the 2011 fiscal year ending June 30, Bolt earned $5.5 million on $38.9 million in revenue.

 

Blyth’s stateside PartyLite sales guttered this summer. Credit: Derek Miller

Q2 no party for Blyth

Thanks to a big boost from its new ViSalus Sciences unit, Blyth Inc. increased sales 17 percent in its second fiscal quarter but still reported a loss, due to desultory results from a U.S. division.

Greenwich-based Blyth sells various household goods through PartyLite, which employs independent agents to sell products at gatherings in their homes or other venues. Via ViSalus, Blyth sells nutrition and weight loss products.

For the quarter ending July 31, Blyth lost $3.2 million on $186 million in revenue. U.S. PartyLite sales were down 29 percent, with the company employing 15,000 agents in all, down 1,000 from a year earlier.

 

FuelCell Energy saw sales climb this summer.

FuelCell edges closer to profitability

Even as it absorbs extra costs to repair a run of defective products, FuelCell Energy Inc. cut its losses in its most recent quarter as it ramps up overseas shipments, and as California and Connecticut ready renewable-energy purchase programs that could include fuel cells.

The Danbury-based company’s fuel cells are used to provide power at utility scale, with its largest client Posco Power building such a plant in South Korea where it is based. FuelCell Energy lost $7.8 million in its third fiscal quarter ending July 31, even as sales leaped by nearly two-thirds to $31.2 million.

Last spring, FuelCell Energy agreed to replace and repair fuel cells it had sold, estimating costs of $13.6 million.

 

Townsquare Media expands

Townsquare Media L.L.C. spent $57 million to acquire Millennium Radio Holdings L.L.C., which controls 11 radio stations and a news network in coastal and southern New Jersey, including radio affiliates of Bristol-based ESPN.

It was Greenwich-based Townsquare’s second deal announced in the past six weeks, along with one to acquire Double O Corp., which gave it 26 stations in New York, Texas and Missouri.

When that deal is complete, Townsquare Media will own some 200 radio stations nationally in 43 markets, making it the fourth-largest owner of radio stations in the U.S. Earlier this year, Townsquare Media acquired Seize the Deal, which offers e-coupons.

 

Malloy names education commissioner

Stefan Pryor is the new commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Education, having previously co-founded the Amistad Academy charter school in New Haven.

Pryor is currently deputy mayor for economic development in Newark, N.J., and previously was president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. charged with leading the rebuilding effort there following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“His experience working as a turnaround leader in the economic development arena, combined with his leadership on education issues, will help him turn the Department of Education into an agency that helps prepare our state’s children for whichever path they may choose,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, in a prepared statement. “Next year I’d like to focus a great deal of the legislative session on issues of education.”

Pryor earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and law degree from Yale University, where he completed the Yale Teacher Preparation Program.

 

Bar installs new leaders

Robinson & Cole L.L.P. partner Eric Dale is the new president of the Fairfield County Bar Association.

A Fairfield resident, Dale chairs Robinson & Cole’s emerging companies, private equity and venture capital practice, working in the Stamford office. He is a graduate of Clark University and holds a law degree from New York Law School.

The Fairfield County Bar also named as vice president Eric Broder of Broder & Orland L.L.C., as secretary Donna Nelson Heller of Finn Dixon & Herling L.L.P. and as treasurer Andrew Zeitlin of Shipman & Goodwin L.L.P.

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