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Firm with Alto plant files for bankruptcy
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Propex Inc., which operates a manufacturing plan in Alto, announced Friday that it has filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

The company said it will continue to operate its facilities and offices in the ordinary course of business while it restructures. Additionally, Propex has arranged a $60 million source of credit facility for which it will be seeking court approval. The company said the financing will allow it to operate its business on an ongoing basis.

The Alto facility, located in Banks County, employs 155 workers and makes three products: woven fabrics, recreational filtration and an erosion control product called Pyramat.

Propex requested and expects that the court will approve the company's new financing to continue all operations in the normal course, including maintaining payroll and employee benefits, deliveries to customers and fulfillment of obligations to critical suppliers.

"Today's steps are part of an important process to strengthen Propex," said Joe Dana, president of Propex, in a statement released by the company. "We believe the financial reorganization will allow us to implement a restructuring plan that will lower our debt levels and expand our market leadership in key sectors from a position of financial strength."

In addition to Alto, the company operates plants in Bainbridge, Hazelhurst, Nashville, Ringgold and Chattanooga, Tenn.

Performance Food Group to be acquired in merger
Performance Food Group Co. announced Friday it has signed a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of The Blackstone Group and Wellspring Capital Management in a transaction valued at approximately $1.3 billion.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Performance Food Group shareholders will receive $34.50 in cash for each outstanding share of company common stock they hold.

Performance owns PFG Milton's in Oakwood, a distributor of national and private label food and food-related products to restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, schools, health care facilities and other institutions.
The transaction will be structured as a combination of Performance Food Group and Vistar Corp., a food service distributor controlled by affiliates of Blackstone and Wellspring.

The transaction is subject to receipt of shareholder approval and the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as well as satisfaction of other customary closing conditions, and is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2008. Following completion of the transaction, Performance Food Group's stock will be de-listed and no longer trade publicly. The combined companies will be named Performance Food Group.

BB&T reports 2007 net income of $1.73 billion
BB&T Corporation has reported earnings for the fourth quarter and the full year 2007. For the fourth quarter, net income totaled $411 million, or 75 cents per share, compared with $251 million, or 46 cents per share, earned during the fourth quarter of 2006. These results reflect increases of 63.7 percent and 63 percent, respectively, compared to the fourth quarter last year.

For the full year 2007, BB&T's net income was $1.73 billion compared to $1.53 billion earned in 2006, an increase of 13.5 percent. Diluted earnings per share for 2007 totaled $3.14, an increase of 11.7 percent compared to $2.81 earned in 2006.

BB&T operates six branches in Hall County, and in 2007 acquired Sidney O. Smith Inc., a Gainesville insurance agency.

Fockele Garden wins management awards
The Fockele Garden Co. has won commercial landscape management awards from The Professional Landcare Network and from the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association.

In PLANET's national 38th Annual Environmental Improvement Awards program, Fockele won a distinction award for the maintenance of the landscape at Limestone Heritage Properties, a nursing home. The property includes expanses of lawn, beds planted with shrubs, perennials and ground covers and areas filled with colorful annuals.

MALTA awarded The Fockele Garden Co. a merit award in the area of commercial maintenance for City Plumbing & Electric Supply, and a distinction award in the category of commercial installation for Kipper Tool Co.

"Limestone Heritage, Kipper Tool and City Plumbing are leaders in their respective industries," said Mark Fockele, president of The Fockele Garden Co. "We recognize that an attractive, well-maintained landscape reflects a company's commitment to quality products and services."