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Grapevine: Super networking

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Industry insiders say Hackensack University Health Network, Atlantic Health, Lehigh Valley Health Network and Lancaster General Health are discussing creation of a network of joint ventures for things like purchasing agreements, transportation, ambulatory care and other services. A source said these joint ventures would not be mergers, but agreements to work together and gain efficiency.

Joseph A. Trunfio, CEO of Atlantic Health, declined to confirm the parties involved, but said Atlantic is interested in this type of arrangement.

A source said Hackensack also is exploring opportunities with Meridian, but it was unclear if those talks involved the Atlantic regional network or something else. Hackensack also is having discussions with Christiana, in Delaware, and Bon Secours, the source said. Hackensack did not respond to a request for comment by press time. Meridian declined to comment.

Saints go marching out?

Less than three years into becoming a regional campus for Drexel University's College of Medicine, St. Peter's University Hospital may see some changes in its educational partnerships.

Grapevine was tipped that Drexel and St. Peter's may be ending their affiliation this fall. The source said it was likely that September would be the end date for the relationship.

In an e-mail, hospital spokesman Phil Hartman said, "Saint Peter's is continually evaluating its academic partnerships, but there are no plans to end our relationship with Drexel."

An eye on Avaya headquarters

After announcing layoffs and service consolidations last fall, telecom equipment maker Avaya Inc. is looking to sell its headquarters, a real estate source said.

The tipster also said Avaya is seeking a new location, though the site was still undetermined earlier this month. A telephone message left last week for Avaya spokeswoman Marijke Shugrue was not returned.

The sale of Avaya's three-story, 285,000- square-foot headquarters in the Basking Ridge section of Bernards would seemingly be the latest cost-cutting move for the company. After announcing plans to file for an initial public offering in June 2011, Avaya said in September it would downsize to reduce costs between $135 million and $235 million.

In an SEC filing at the time, the company said it would do so through indirect spending cuts, supply chain-related actions, real estate consolidations and "ongoing employee headcount management" starting late last year. In November, Avaya sold a 1.2 million-square-foot R&D facility in Colorado to a real estate investment group, according to the Denver Business Journal.

Shugrue told NJBIZ in September the cuts and the recent acquisition of a videoconferencing provider "are part of our corporate strategic plan to pursue profitable growth."

A little too quiet

Who cares about the gubernatorial race, when there's the Jersey City mayoral contest? Sources said Democratic political heavy-hitters are lining up behind Steven Fulop and Jerramiah Healy, though not necessarily publicly.

"You need a scorecard, basically, to know who's who," said a political observer about the alliances. "But I don't know what the scorecard is worth; it changes every day."

Brian Stack has reportedly been courted by both sides, and there are rumors Stack is privately supporting Fulop. Stack's spokesman, Mark Albiez, dismissed the rumors. "Right now, we're just worried about the state of the county and as it pertains to Senator Stack's senate seat," he said.

Ray Lesniak wanted Sandra Cunningham to run for mayor. "Right now, I am agnostic," the Union County senator said. "I have no interest to do the heavy lifting that would be necessary for me to get involved in the race. I'd rather be playing golf."

Bob Menendez will never endorse in the race, a source said, but Frank Lautenberg has thrown his support behind Healy.

As for Cory Booker, there are mixed signals. The video page on Healy's campaign website has a clip, published Oct. 9 on YouTube, titled, "Newark Mayor Cory Booker Endorses Mayor Jerramiah Healy." Booker is at a podium with a "Re-elect Mayor Healy" sign as he speaks about Healy, but it is unclear at what event he is speaking. There has been no news coverage of an endorsement by the media-savvy mayor, and a source said Booker is not involved in the race.

Joe DiVincenzo and George Norcross are also reportedly not involved.

How will the May election turn out? "This is Jersey City. They do their own thing in Hudson," a source said. "That's a world of its own."

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Sharon Waters at sharonw@njbiz.com.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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