Capital Buzz: BAE leaders add to their empires

Arlington-based BAE Systems has revamped its leadership team, following the departure of product chief Bob Murphy, who left to become chief executive at British defense contractor Cobham.

The company divides its business into two sectors: products and services. Larry Prior leads its services work. Now, he will add chief operating officer to his duties and Tom Arseneault, previously president of the company’s electronic systems sector, will take on Murphy’s old bailiwick, products.

Arseneault will also become chief technology officer — a new position.

But don’t think that Linda Hudson, the company’s president and chief executive, is moving aside, despite the rash of departure announcements among contracting CEOs at competitors Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Science Applications International Corp., among others. Hudson recently renewed her contract for another three-year tour.

Prior is well-known in locally. Before joining BAE in 2010, he was president and chief operating officer of Fairfax-based ManTech International for about a year. He previously was an executive at SAIC and at TRW, now owned by Northrop Grumman.

A former Marine Corps intelligence officer, Prior also was on the staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

— Marjorie Censer

Designs on Washington

Friendship Heights boutiques Saks Jandel and Julia Farr have snapped up local designer Felix Alonso’s Winter 2012 collection, which will hit stores the first week of September. This is the first ready-to-wear collection for the designer, who has long had a private atelier in Chevy Chase. Alonso has already sold 234,000 pieces to the likes of Bergdorf Goodman in New York and other shops throughout the U.S., Europe and Australia. He and his team are currently working on the label’s summer 2013 collection, which will feature 180 designs.

— Abha Bhattarai

More menswear

Get ready for some more menswear outposts. Buzz hears designer Gant is opening a 2,000-square-foot store in Georgetown this August. It will carry all three of the retailer’s lines — Gant, Gant Rugger and Gant by Michael Bastian. The store is one of three boutiques the Sweden-based company is opening this summer, the others being in New York and Los Angeles.

— Danielle Douglas

Finding their footing

McLean-based Sunrise Senior Living took another step toward addressing some of its financial concerns when it landed a $26 million refinancing package from Eagle Bank for its Fox Hill assisted living community in Bethesda. As part of the deal, Sunrise agreed to put up $6 million in cash. Mark Ordan, Sunrise chief executive, said the deal would put the community “on sound footing.”

Sunrise manages hundreds of senior living facilities in the country but ran into debt concerns following the recession and has sold stakes in some of its properties to bring in cash. In April it sold an interest in 16 of its communities to Ventas for $28 million and in June announced that it had formed a joint venture with a subsidiary of CNL Healthcare Trust in which Sunrise sold stakes in seven senior communities including Sunrise on Connecticut Avenue, in the District’s Chevy Chase neighborhood. CNL contributed $57 million to the deal while Sunrise retained a 45 percent stake in those properties and remains the operator.

— Jonathan O’Connell

Shaping up

District-based FitFeud will be adding a handful of sales reps and developers, founder Nicholas Tolson said, as more employers sign up to use its online platform that facilitates weight loss competitions and other corporate wellness endeavors.

Tolson said the company signed up eight new clients in May, though the pace has slowed some as summer settles in. The staff additions should help to lift those figures, particularly as the firm targets smaller employers.

“Even those smaller companies are seeing the need for paying attention to the wellness of their employees,” Tolson said.

Locally, Loudoun County Public Schools had 885 of its 9,300 employees participate in a weight loss program, called Lighten Up Loudoun, which ran between January and March. They dropped a combined 4,000 pounds, said employee benefits supervisor Carol Edwards.

Edwards said the competition, which was run on FitFeud’s platform, is one of several the school system has carried out since launching a wellness program in 2005.

“We really have seen there is an advantage to having a wellness program and what we’ve learned over the last seven years is if you challenge staff in some way they will participate,” Edwards said.

— Steven Overly

More BRAC?

Lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates is adding a trio of new senior advisers to its national security group: retired Army Major Byron Bagby, retired Navy Rear Admiral Christopher Cole and former Veterans Affairs senior staffer Wayne Simpson. They will join Barry Rhoads, Cassidy’s president and a top military and defense lobbyist as the Pentagon weighs future base relocations and closures.

— Catherine Ho

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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