The weak economy and slumping auto sales apparently haven't dampened Denny Hecker's empire-building ambitions.
The auto dealership magnate bought 1,075,129 shares of Tulsa, Okla.-based Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, or slightly more than 5 percent of the company's shares, according to a May 9 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Hecker, who counts Advantage Rent-A-Car among his many businesses, said in the filing that he hired Minneapolis investment banking firm Houlihan Lokey to help in "exploring strategic alternatives" for his Advantage Rent-A-Car and Dollar Thrifty.
Hecker's purchase has stoked speculation that he may be trying to take advantage of Dollar Thrifty's low stock price to make a bid for the company.
Seadog makes grade
A Minnesota company's technology that captures energy from ocean waves has received passing marks from Texas A&M University.
"Compared to other wave energy conversion devices ... the Seadog pump has a good potential to become a functionally marketable machine in the near future," said Frank Warnakulasuriya of Marine Engineering Technology at Texas A&M's Galveston campus.
Mark Thomas, CEO of Seadog parent Independent Natural Resources of Eden Prairie, said the next step is an 18-pump field of Seadogs in the Gulf of Mexico that will be used to desalinate seawater with the electrical power they produce.
Water-poor Texas already has about 100 desalination plants.
Lessons in exporting
MTS Systems will be featured in a free, daylong seminar June 24 for corporate lawyers and others titled, "How Good Companies Can Get In Trouble: Export Compliance and Corporate Integrity."
MTS recently pleaded guilty to charges that, several years ago, it subverted federal authorities in trying to sell nuclear-testing technology to India.
A "lessons-learned" panel will include Jeff Zinsli, MTS' corporate import/export compliance manager, and Wendy Hauser, special agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Office of Export Enforcement.
In a blast from the (unethical) past, Egil (Bud) Krogh, former deputy counsel to former President Richard Nixon and one of the legal brains behind the Watergate scandal and coverup, will be the luncheon speaker. Krogh, who did jail time, recently wrote: "Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices and Life Lessons From the White House."
The event at the Crowne Plaza St. Paul is sponsored by MTS and the Center for Ethical Business Cultures at the University of St. Thomas, and CLE credit is available. E-mail reservations by June 17 to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to: www.cebcglobal.org.
First, Fed should do no harm
In trying to heat up the U.S. economy with interest-rate cuts, the Federal Reserve may become a firefighter rekindling the blaze of inflation, two Minneapolis Fed economists warn in a recent paper. Andrew Atkeson, a consultant to the bank, and monetary adviser Patrick Kehoe said that recent Fed cuts in short-term interest rates could fuel inflation fears.
"In our hurry to moderate the current economic dip, are we unhinging long-term expectations from their long-term anchor?" Atkeson and Kehoe said. Also, "Is the Fed reacting passively to real risks in the economy, or is the Fed itself causing some of this risk?" The paper can be found at www.minneapolisfed.org/research/common/pub_detail.cfm?pb_autonum_id=1121.
NEAL ST. ANTHONY, CHRIS SERRES, MIKE MEYERS