Beset by a series of financial troubles, TU International Inc. has replaced its chairman, David M. Owens, with its newest controlling shareholder, Robert N. Verratti, who says he is a specialist in corporate turnarounds.
Verratti -- who earlier this month acquired voting rights for more than 80 percent of the company's stock -- has been named chairman and chief executive officer with a mission to streamline the company and refocus its resources.
Owens, founder of the Falls Church computer equipment company, will continue on the company's board of directors and also will remain chairman and president of TU's commercial sales and marketing division, D. Owens & Associates Inc.
The reorganization is the latest in a series of management changes for the company, which has been facing mounting cash problems. One of its subsidiaries, Dickenson Lines Inc., has been forced to file for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy laws. TU's auditors noted in recent documents that the company's working capital "is an area of extreme concern" and that two other subsidiaries besides Dickenson were in default.
Shortly after Dickenson, a bus remanufacturing concern, filed for bankruptcy protection last summer, a Dallas-based investor group, First Tarent Inc., purchased 80 percent of TU's stock, including most of Owens' shares, for $7 million in notes and property.
However, earlier this month, First Tarent granted Verratti the voting rights -- and option to buy almost all of its TU shares -- for $1.4 million. According to documents filed at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the option was granted "to induce Verratti to provide consulting, advising, and management services" to TU.
Verratti had been First Tarent's president and chief executive officer when the investment company was formed earlier this year. However, he said, he left after he realized he could not run the Texas-based business from Philadelphia, where he preferred to live.
Verratti, who runs his own consulting firm, said he has had a hand in turning around a number of troubled corporations, ranging from small private oil companies to the 110-year-old Globe Ticket Co. to a real estate subsidiary of Gulf Western United.
TU "will be a real challenge," Verratti said late last week.
Current financial figures for TU were unavailable, company officials said, because auditors were still reviewing its figures for its latest fiscal year, which ended June 30. For the first nine months, TU reported a $26,479 profit on revenue of $25 million. For the same period a year before, TU had a profit of $123,756 on revenue of $17.6 million.