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LINK: https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/article/stephanie-ferris-at-fis-in-exclusive-company

When Stephanie Ferris becomes chief executive officer of Fidelity National Information Services Inc., she will find herself in exclusive company.

Not only will Ferris join Regency Centers Corp.’s Lisa Palmer as the only female CEOs of major Jacksonville-based public companies, she also will be one of few women in any city to run a Fortune 500 company.

Fidelity National Information Services, or FIS, announced Oct. 18 that Ferris will become chief executive Jan. 1. Current CEO Gary Norcross will become executive chairman.

A September report on women CEOs by the Women Business Collaborative, Ascend, C200 and Catalyst found only 44 of the Fortune 500 companies are run by women, or 8.8%.

It’s even lower for companies included in the S&P 500 stock index, where 32 CEOs are female, or 6.4%.

The S&P 500 list includes Palmer because Regency is one of the stocks in that index. Regency is not a Fortune 500 company, which measures the largest U.S. companies by annual revenue.

FIS is in both the Fortune 500 and S&P 500.

It’s not just the biggest companies that have been slow to promote women to the top. The report said 186 of the companies in the Russell 3000 index have female CEOs, or 6.2%.

At the beginning of the 21th century, just two Fortune 500 companies were led by women, according to the report. The number has been on a steady, but slow, climb over the last two decades.

“This year the numbers of (Fortune 500) CEOS hit a record high of 44 and this report highlights what we’ve long known about women’s advancement to the top job in the C-suite: The progress is slow, but it is possible,” Catalyst CEO Lorraine Hariton said in a news release about the report.

The list of large Jacksonville-based public companies with women CEOs was small before Palmer was promoted at Regency on Jan. 1, 2020.

The most prominent was Delores Kesler, who grew AccuStaff Inc. (which became MPS Group Inc.) into a major staffing company before she retired as CEO in 1994.

Linda Farthing served as chief executive of Stein Mart Inc. for only 13 months before leaving for personal reasons in 2008.

Palmer has been with Regency since 1996 and became president of the company four years before taking on the additional responsibilities of CEO.

Ferris, 49, is a 28-year veteran of the financial technology industry, FIS said.

She joined FIS when the company acquired Worldpay Inc. in July 2019. Ferris was chief financial officer of Cincinnati-based Worldpay.

She became chief operating officer of FIS after the merger and led the integration of Worldpay into the company.

Ferris left FIS after the integration in September 2020 but rejoined the company as chief administrative officer in September 2021. She was promoted to president of the company in February.

Ferris will be making a slightly lower salary than Norcross, who has been with FIS and its predecessors since 1988 and became CEO in 2015.

Norcross earned a base salary of $1.2 million and a bonus of 250% of his salary in 2021, according to the company’s proxy statement.

An Oct. 18 Securities and Exchange Commission filing said Ferris will earn an annual base salary of $1 million and a target annual bonus of 200% of her salary.

Norcross had a base salary of $1 million in 2015, his first year as chief executive.

Both executives also receive equity awards in their compensation packages.

Ferris has a three-year contract beginning Jan. 1 that is subject to automatic one-year renewals.

Currency impact limits J&J vision sales growth

Johnson & Johnson reported third-quarter sales at its Jacksonville-based vision care subsidiary rose 8.6% on an operational basis.

However, with a strong U.S. dollar, it reported sales rose by only 1.4% to $1.2 billion after the currency’s impact on foreign sales.

Sales of the company’s contact lenses made in Jacksonville grew 10.8% operationally but rose 3% to $908 million after the foreign exchange impact.

The subsidiary also includes surgical vision products made elsewhere.

In Johnson & Johnson’s Oct. 18 quarterly conference call, Ashley McEvoy, worldwide chairman of the company’s MedTech business, said new contact lens products, including a lens called Acuvue Oasys 1-Day Max, are increasing sales.

“All of us know, we live digitally intense lives, and this lens was custom designed to really meet those digitally intensive lifestyles. It builds upon our industry-leading portfolio,” she said, according to a company transcript of the call.

Blockchain Moon acquires DLTx ASA

A year after its initial public offering, a Jacksonville-based blank check company formed to seek acquisitions has found its target.

Blockchain Moon Acquisition Corp. announced an agreement Oct. 15 to acquire DLTx ASA, an Oslo, Norway-based company developing blockchain technology.

As its name implies, Blockchain Moon was formed to find businesses in that industry.

“DLTx is a tech company run by decentralists who believe in the new economy that is powered by cryptographic digital assets. The DLTx team has been at the forefront of developing and launching of several of the most important protocols in the blockchain space,” Blockchain Moon said in a news release.

After the merger, the company will be named DLTx Inc. and be headquartered in the U.S., but the news release didn’t say where.

Blockchain Moon lists its headquarters office at 4651 Salisbury Road on Jacksonville’s Southside but it has no full-time employees.

The company went public in October 2021 by selling 10 million units at $10 each, with the units consisting of one share of stock and warrants to acquire additional stock.

DLTx is publicly traded on the Oslo Stock Exchange. Its shareholders will receive Blockchain Moon shares in the merger.

DLTx reported revenue of $525,000 in the second quarter.

Blockchain Moon shares trade on the Nasdaq Global Market. DLTx officials said in the news release the Nasdaq listing is part of the appeal of the merger.

“DLTx’s mission is to be a premier blockchain and Web3 infrastructure company. The Nasdaq listing will provide access to the global capital markets to accelerate the development of our business and position us to take advantage of the growth of decentralized communications and finance,” said Chairman James Haft.

SG Blocks engages investment bankers

Another company with a small Jacksonville headquarters office, SG Blocks Inc., may be looking for a buyer.

The company announced Oct. 20 it engaged “a private, leading full-service investment bank, securities and wealth management firm headquartered in New York, for strategic advisory services.”

It gave no other details and said it “will provide further information on the relationship in the near future when deemed appropriate.”

SG Blocks is a modular building company that converts shipping containers for structures. It moved its headquarters to Jacksonville early this year.

The company has expressed concerns about its stock price, with CEO Paul Galvin sending a letter to stockholders in July saying “despite record revenue and a steady stream of accomplishments, we believe that our share price has decreased and is being held down due to unusual options activity.”

SG Blocks reported revenue of $16.2 million and a net loss of $515,868 in the first six months of 2022. The stock, which was trading above $3 a year ago has been trading near $1.60 recently.

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