Betting on high natural gas prices, NRG Energy entered the wholesale electricity market in Texas with an October 2 announcement that it would buy the assets of Texas Genco LLC for $4 billion in cash plus $1.8 billion in stock. NRG will also assume more than $2.5 billion of Texas Genco debt.

Last year Texas Genco LLC sold for $3.7 billion ($900 million in cash and the rest in debt) to four private equity firms: Texas Pacific Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Blackstone Group, and Hellman & Friedman.

In the intervening year, Hurricane Katrina helped lift natural gas prices through the ceiling. "The purchase price for Texas Genco was based on their near term substantially hedged portfolio and a conservative view on longer term gas prices," says an NRG press release. NRG estimates that the combined company will drive "substantially greater earnings and cash flow."

NRG is a merchant power company that generates electricity to sell to wholesale markets, such as local electric power and gas companies. Having emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2003, it moved from Minneapolis to the Carnegie Center last year. The Texas Genco deal, expected to close early next year, would give NRG an entrance into the wholesale electricity market in Texas.

NRG Energy Inc. (NRG), 211 Carnegie Center, Princeton 08540-6213. David Crane, president and CEO. 609-524-4500; fax, 609-524-4501. Home page: www.nrgenergy.com

West Windsor’s Gate: PNC and RiteAid

Two real estate deals, together worth $6 million, are destined to change the face of Route 571 just to the east of the railroad tracks, the Princeton Junction entrance to West Windsor. Al Toto of Commercial Property Network worked both sides of both deals, representing the buyer and the seller.

First Toto sold the Lucar Hardware property (along with the Lick-It ice cream stand) to PNC Bank. That deal closed in 10 days, says Toto, because banks were standing in line for entrance to West Windsor. The site will be enhanced by a wall or monument area to signal the Princeton Junction entrance to West Windsor’s business section.

The township is trying recast the image of the downtown, the area along Route 571 from the West Windsor-Plainsboro High school on Clarksville Road south to the train tracks.

So Toto expects the township to warmly welcome the owners of the deal he put together on the other side of the street – RiteAid. That drugstore has long been a tenant of the Acme Market strip center on Route 571. It bought two parcels on the north side of Route 571 owned by Al and Patty Swingle and Al and Jackie Macli. RiteAid’s move will replace a mechanics shop, a paint store, Chicken Holiday, and Domino’s pizza.

Unlike the PNC bank deal, says Toto, the RiteAid deal was long in coming. "We had a previous deal with Eckerd Drugs in 2003 and 2004, but it went down the tubes when JC Penney sold Eckerd’s," says Toto. "They had $500,000 invested but they pulled the plug on it. I had a number of entities who wanted to be there, including CVS and a bunch of banks, but I thought I saw the writing on the wall that the town fathers didn’t want any more banks. RiteAid stepped up to the plate, paying what they had to pay."

Commercial Property Network Inc., 29 Emmons Drive, Suite A-10, Princeton 08540. 609-921-8844; fax, 609-924-9739. Home page: www.CPNRealestate.com

Office Sale at Exit 8A

The Hampshire Companies paid about $4 million for the 55,000 square foot Market Source building at 2 Commerce Drive Center Point at 8A, in South Brunswick. The six-acre property has 40,000 square feet of office space and 15,000 square feet of warehouse space.

Another Hampshire fund recently purchased 329 Wyckoff Mills East in East Windsor, currently occupied by Elementis Specialties, formerly known as Rheox. The 120,000 square-foot laboratory/office building is set on 30 acres, with development potential on 10 acres.

Hampshire is a private real estate development firm that, five years ago, began to develop property for a number of investors (www.hampshireco.com) . Its private real estate equity investment fund is similar to a Real Estate Investment Trust (a REIT) but is not publicly traded, says a spokesperson, John Lonsdorf of R&J Public Relations. "You can’t easily buy and sell shares, and you can choose your investors."

The founder of the firm was Jon Hanson, the first chairman of the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority. Among his developments are supermarket-anchored shopping centers across the country as well as office and industrial properties. The current CEO, James E. Hanson II, went to Hope College in Holland, Michigan, Class of 1980, and has his law degree from Vermont Law School.

New Pharmaceutical

The Practical Solutions Group LLC, 152 Witherspoon Street, Princeton 08542. Emma Barsky and Leonard A. Grunbaum, partners. 609-683-0756; fax, 609-683-0758. www.practicalsolutionsnj.com

A two-partner pharmaceutical consulting firm has opened on Witherspoon Street, where it has offices in the building owned by Barsky Homes. Emma Barsky, one of the partners, is married to Roman Barsky, the residential builder. The other partner is Leonard A. Grunbaum.

"With our combined experience of nearly 50 years, we cover all aspects – good manufacturing practices, good laboratory practices, and good clinical practices, and we also do computer validation," says Barsky.

Barsky grew up speaking Russian in an area now known as the Ukraine. Her father was a mechanical engineer and her mother, who used to be a broadcaster, now works for a law firm. She came to this country at age 15 and met her husband on a blind date when she was still in high school in Maplewood. They married, but she stayed in school, graduating from Rutgers in 1987. Their first son, born that year, is at Bryant College and their daughter is a freshman at Princeton High School.

During her career Barsky worked at Jacobus Pharma, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Sankyo Pharma Development. "As an analytical chemist, I built up a department that would support testing for all the clinical studies done in the United States. I ended up in quality assurance, was transferred to technical chemistry manufacturing and controls (CMC), and did all the supporting operations for manufacturing, including testing and distribution. But I always wanted to be

independent."

Barsky met Grunbaum when they worked on a computer system to support quality assurance operations. He was president of the consulting firm, and she was Sankyo’s project manager.

"We always work together from the practical standpoint," says Grunbaum. "We don’t see a lot of the practical solutions out there. Instead of a cookie cutter approach, we wanted to tailor our approach to what makes sense under a given circumstance."

Grunbaum’s father, who escaped from the Nazis in Hungary, had a laundry business in Brooklyn, and his mother was a seamstress. An only child, he graduated in 1967 from Long Island University, where he also earned an MBA. He lives in Manalapan and has two grown children.

He was president of a 30-person firm in Warren, Meta Solutions, and has also worked as an independent consultant, a regional sales manager for Documentation Development Inc. (a documentation and training firm), in financial services in Manhattan, as a computer auditor for Coopers & Lybrand with Johnson & Johnson as a client, and as a computer auditor and consultant for KPB for pharmaceutical clients.

"I could look at my father as a role model as someone who made it on his own," he says. "I realized I had the wherewithal to go out on my own, and the two of us complement each other perfectly."

Crosstown Moves

Adecco: The Employment People, 115 Rockingham Row, Princeton 08540. Dona Fanara, branch manager. 609-734-0330; fax, 609-734-0930. Home page: www.adecco.com

The personnel agency has moved from 101 College Road East to Princeton Forrestal Village.

David Perry Davis, 112 West Franklin Avenue, Pennington 08534. 609-737-2222. www.dpdlaw.com

David Perry Davis has moved his law office from 31 Jefferson Plaza (just off Route 1) to Pennington, and his phone number has changed. He focuses on matrimonial and civil rights matters. A graduate of Rutgers College in New Brunswick, where he received a BA in history, Class of 1991, he went to Rutgers law school in Camden.

Mercer Commercial Construction LLC, 133 Franklin Corner Road,

Lawrenceville 08648. John Schragger, managing partner. 609-219-6000;

fax, 609-219-1330.

Mercer Commercial Construction moved from 840 Bear Tavern road to the Atrium at Lawrence. Phone and fax are new.

The company does metal framing, sheetrock, ceiling grids, and new commercial fit-outs for office, retail, and flex space.

Deaths

Patricia Seeley Clausen, 48, on September 30. She worked in the continuing education department at Westminster Choir College. A funeral will be Thursday, October 6, at 11 a.m. at the Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Avenue.

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