Rutgers, Duke, and Vanderbilt are all affiliated with the $ 100 million deli firm in New Jersey
Hometown deli, Paulsboro, NJ
Mike Calia | CNBC
The mutual funds of two US universities, Duke and Vanderbilt, own significant stocks in the mysterious company, valued at $ 100 million on the stock exchange, despite only owning a tiny New Jersey deli.
Duke and Vanderbilt’s stake in Hometown International was acquired by their Hong Kong-based arms under the direction of Maso Capital Partners, a Hong Kong company that is investing in the deli.
Duke and Vanderbilt’s stakes, which are among the largest stakes in Hometown International, were acquired last year as part of an effort to use Hometown International – as well as a Shell company called E-Waste – as vehicles for Hometown International, either privately owned by either reverse mergers or similar maneuvers are publicly traded in the US stock markets.
It’s not clear whether Duke and Vanderbilt are among the potential buyers of shares in E-Waste, who announced last week they were selling shares for $ 2.5 million. E-waste, which is tied to people connected to Hometown and borrowed money from the deli owner, has no ongoing business but still has a market cap of more than $ 100 million.
Manoj Jain, co-chief investment officer of Maso Capital, has sole voting and investment authority over Hometown International shares held by the two universities, according to financial reports. Jain previously worked as a managing director at the asset management company Och-Ziff, now known as Sculptor Capital Management.
The roles of Duke and Vanderbilt as shareholders of Hometown International were first reported in the Financial Times.
Financial reports show that the same Duke and Vanderbilt investment vehicles that are shareholders in the deli owner were previously listed as significant shareholders with Maso Capital in Paladin Energy, an Australian uranium mining company in Africa.
They also reveal that Duke and Vanderbilt hold shares in a so-called special purpose vehicle, Duddell Street Acquisition Corp., which Maso Capital founded last year and which began trading on NASDAQ.
A third American university, Rutgers, is paying $ 1,100 a month for office space on Mantua Avenue next to the deli in Paulsboro, New Jersey, CNBC, CNBC has learned.
Paul Morina, CEO of the deli company, is one of the partners in the rental company Mantua Creek Group LLC.
The three universities’ involvement in Hometown International and the delicatessen landlord adds further questions to the mystery surrounding Hometown, whose $ 100 million market cap in no way reflects the underlying value of the delicatessen it owns. This delicatessen store had combined sales of just $ 35,000 for 2019 and 2020.
Rutgers’ space is being used by the university’s School of Public Health for a study of Paulsboro drinking water carried out with the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Agency for the Register of Toxic Substances and Diseases.
Rutgers, a public university based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is paying the rent of the Mantua Creek Group under a 24-month lease that began last September. The Rutgers Study office is located at 541 B Mantua Ave., while the hometown deli is located at 541 A Mantua Ave. is located.
Hometown International itself pays Mantua Creek Group $ 500 per month for the deli area.
The Paulsboro Wrestling Club and the Monster Factory professional wrestling school are located at 541 C Mantua Ave., in a separate building.
Morina, the CEO of Hometown International, is also the director of Paulsboro High School and the head coach of the renowned wrestling team.
A Rutgers spokeswoman said she had no information on how the university chose the location for its Paulsboro office.
Office space rented from Rutgers adjacent to Your Hometown Deli in Paulsboro, NJ
Mike Calia | CNBC
The leases with Rutgers and Hometown were signed by a man named James Patten, who works as an analyst for Tryon Capital, a North Carolina company controlled by Peter Coker Sr., father of chairman of deli company Peter Coker Jr. becomes.
Patten, who wrestled with Morina in high school, was banned from trading after a series of disciplinary measures, according to FINRA, the agency that regulates broker-dealers.
Duke and Vanderbilt shares
Hometown International’s most recent annual report, filed last month, shows that Duke, Blackwell Partners LLC – Series A, holds 1.38 million common shares in Hometown International. Duke holds warrants to purchase an additional 27.6 million shares.
Vanderbilt’s company, Star V Partners LLC, holds 663,750 common shares of the company with warrants to purchase an additional 13.275 million shares.
The universities’ shares, which include common stocks and warrants, were acquired for a total of approximately $ 2 million.
On paper, those common stocks alone are worth more than $ 26 million, given Hometown International’s most recent closing price of $ 13 per share.
But Hometown’s stock trades thinly at best. For this reason, and in the absence of any valuable asset other than its existence as a publicly traded company, it is likely impossible for anyone, including Duke and Vanderbilt, to sell their stock in large blocks for anywhere near the current trading price.
It’s not clear if Vanderbilt and Duke are among the youngest buyers.
A spokeswoman for Duke in Durham, North Carolina declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Maso Capital.
Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee had no immediate comment when contacted by CNBC.
Anders Hall, Vice Chancellor, Investments and Chief Financial Officer at Vanderbilt, was previously responsible for investments at Duke.
People connected to Hometown have refused to return calls and emails for weeks to get comment from CNBC.
The strange case of Hometown International
CNBC has for the past two weeks been conducting detailed criminal proceedings, civil suits and government sanctions against people related to Hometown International who were removed from an over-the-counter market last week due to irregularities in filing financial data.
These records indicate that one of the largest shareholders in Hometown International’s shares is a group of opaque companies in Macau, China, located on the same floor in the same office building.
Earlier this week, Hometown International and E-Waste terminated advisory agreements based on articles from CNBC that paid Tryon Capital by Peter Coker Sr. to pay $ 15,000 per month in the case of the deli owner and $ 2,500 per month in the case of E-Waste.
Another company affiliated with Coker Sr., TM Medical Properties LLC, on its website, states that it leases space to several healthcare facilities, including Vanderbilt Medical Center Clinics.
Hong Kong-based son of Coker Sr., Peter Coker Jr., has a seat on the board of directors of Duddell Street Acquisition Corp., the Maso Capital-affiliated SPAC company whose shares were traded on Nasdaq last fall.
Duddell Street Acquisition, whose name reflects the Hong Kong office address of Maso Capital, states on its website that it is a “newly formed blank check company incorporated as a Cayman Islands exempt company, a merger, conduct an exchange or acquisition of assets. Share purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more companies that we will refer to as our first business combination in this Prospectus. “