D.C. consultancy changes name in reshuffling

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Art Collins served as a senior adviser on Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and led the public policy and government affairs practice at Bryan Cave. It is Broderick Johnson who held these positions previously. This version has been corrected.

February 18
CONSULTING
D.C. firm changes name in reshuffling

The Washington consultancy founded in 2011 by two former advisers to President Obama has renamed itself, simply, the Group, the firm plans to announce Tuesday.

The policy and communications consulting firm was originally called Collins Johnson Group after its two founding partners, Art Collins and Broderick Johnson. The name change is part of what firm leaders are calling a “brand refresh” as the company undergoes a personnel shuffling. Johnson is heading back to the Obama administration as assistant to the president and Cabinet secretary, while Nicole Isaac, an Obama adviser on legislative affairs, joined the firm last week.

In October, Darrel Thompson, a former deputy chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), joined the firm. Thompson is running for the Ward 6 D.C. Council seat.

“We are excited about our direction and the message behind our new name,” Collins said in a statement. “It symbolizes who we are — a diverse team of experienced advisors assisting our clients as they navigate through complex administrative, legislative and regulatory environments.”

Collins and Johnson are former lobbyists. Collins ran the political consulting firm Public Private Partnership, and Johnson lobbied for companies including AT&T, Microsoft and Verizon, though none of the firm’s strategists are currently registered to lobby. Johnson served as a senior adviser on Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and previously led the public policy and government affairs practice at Bryan Cave.

Catherine Ho

ENERGY
Natural gas prices rise on high demand

Natural gas prices rose to a nine-day high as a storm that dropped snow across the Midwest headed for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, boosting demand for the fuel at a time when stockpiles are at a 10-year seasonal low.

Prices climbed as much as 4.9 percent. A winter storm that may drop up to six inches of snow on Chicago and Pittsburgh will reach the East on Tuesday, AccuWeather.com and National Weather Service said Monday. New York may get 1 to 2 inches before the storm switches over to rain, while Boston may receive 1 to 3 inches.

Prices are up 29 percent this year.

Stockpiles of the heating fuel declined for a 13th week to 1.686 trillion cubic feet in the seven days ended Feb. 7, the lowest for the time of year since 2004, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Supplies will drop to 1.33 trillion cubic feet by the end of March, when the heating season draws to a close, the EIA said last week. About 49 percent of U.S. households use gas for heating, according to the Energy Department’s statistical arm.

— Bloomberg News

Also in Business

A decision on whether crisis-stricken Greece will receive more financial assistance or debt relief won’t be made until “after the summer,” a top euro-zone official said Monday. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who also chairs the meetings of the euro zone’s 18 finance ministers, said Greece’s debt burden “has to be reduced; the question is who does it and how to do it.” He insisted, however, that there’s no urgent need to make a decision, as Greece’s $330 billion bailout program provides enough financing through August — provided the country meets its fiscal and reform targets.

Online music streaming service Spotify is recruiting a U.S. financial reporting specialist, adding to speculation that the Swedish start-up is preparing for a share listing, which one banker said could value the firm at as much as $8 billion. Meeting Securities and Exchange Commission standards for filing financial disclosures is essential for any firm planning to go public, and bankers and lawyers said they inferred from the job ad that the company is getting ready for an initial public offering, possibly next year.

Duke Energy said that it’s starting to get out of the power-generation business in the Midwest. The company said its Midwest power plants have produced volatile financial results in a competitive market, and the business is not a good fit. The business includes ownership interests in 11 power plants in Ohio and one each in Illinois and Pennsylvania. Duke said it will take 12 to 18 months to finish exiting the power-plant businesses. The company said it will take a noncash accounting charge of between $1 billion and $2 billion in the first quarter of 2014 tied to the move.

Maurice “Hank” Greenberg’s Starr Investment Holdings agreed to buy MultiPlan, a manager of claims for large health-care insurers, from two private-equity firms. Starr teamed with Partners Group of Switzerland to purchase New York-based MultiPlan from BC Partners Holdings and Silver Lake Management, the firms said in a statement Monday. The statement didn’t disclose financial terms. The purchase price was about $4.4 billion, news services reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the transaction.

— From news services

Coming Today

10 a.m.: National Association of Home Builders releases housing market index for February.

Earnings: Coca-Cola.

FOOD
Catherine Ho covers law and lobbying for Capital Business, which she joined in 2011. She was previously a reporter at the Daily Journal in Los Angeles, covering LA civil courts and labor and employment law.
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