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July 22, 2014

CitiMortgage seeks $4.5 million in lawsuit against Chicago bankers

Filed under: Canada, mortgage — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 12:36 am

CitiMortgage is suing two Chicago bankers, Steve and John Calk, alleging a mortgage bank the brothers operated that dissolved in 2012 contained inaccuracies in residential loan underwriting documents.

CitiMortgage, which is based in O’Fallon, Mo., is seeking more than $4.5 million in damages in the breach of contract lawsuit filed in federal court in St. Louis Monday.  

Since 2004, CitiMortgage purchased 4,790 loans from Chicago Bancorp, once one of the largest privately held retail mortgage banks in the country, according to court documents. 

Steve Calk was president and co-owner of Chicago Bancorp, and John Calk was vice president and co-owner before Chicago Bancorp dissolved in late 2012. Steve Calk now is founder, chairman and CEO of The Federal Savings Bank in Chicago, which also is named a defendant in the lawsuit, and John Calk is vice chairman. 

Eighteen loans Chicago Bancorp sold CitiMortgage over the last decade contained inaccurate information or material misrepresentations that included misrepresenting a borrower’s income, employment or debt, according to the lawsuit. In one loan Chicago Bancorp sold CitiMortgage, the lawsuit alleges a borrower provided a false Social Security number belonging to another individual. “Chicago Bancorp sold (CitiMortgage) at least 18 loans … that were underwritten and/or originated based upon materially inaccurate information or on material misrepresentations,” CitiMortage’s lawsuit alleges. 

CitiMortgage alleges its contract with Chicago Bancorp required Chicago Bancorp to repurchase loans that CitiMortgage deemed did not meet the requirements set out in the contract instant payday loans. After Chicago Bancorp dissolved, CitiMortgage alleges that The Federal Savings Bank continued Chicago Bancorp’s business of originating mortgage loans with Chicago Bancorp’s employees, and Chicago Bancorp’s assets were transferred to The Federal Savings Bank and its holding company, National Bancorp Holdings. 

“Chicago Bancorp and the other defendants made the transfer of Chicago Bancorp’s assets with the actual intent to hinder, delay and prevent (CitiMortgage) from collecting amounts due to it in payment of repurchase claims against Chicago Bancorp,” CitiMortgage alleges in the lawsuit. 

A CitiMortgage spokesman and an attorney representing the Calks, The Federal Savings Bank and National Bancorp both declined to comment on the lawsuit. 

The new lawsuit isn’t the first time the parties have litigated over home loans. CitiMortgage sued Chicago Bancorp, the Calks, The Federal Savings Bank, and National Bancorp Holdings in February 2012 in federal court in St. Louis alleging 11 loans contained inaccuracies, and CitiMortgage sought more than $2 million in damages in that case. In a summary judgment this year, Judge Catherine Perry approved CitiMortgage’s motion for summary judgment in its favor on 9 of the 11 loans in dispute. 

 

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July 20, 2014

B&G Foods and Google are big market movers

Filed under: marketing, technology — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 9:04 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Friday on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Market:

NYSE

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), down 74 cents to $3.83

The semiconductor maker reported second-quarter financial results below expectations along with lower-than-expected guidance.

B&G Foods Inc. (BGS), down $1.20 to $29.62

The food and household goods maker reported second-quarter profit below Wall Street expectations and lowered its full-year outlook.

Knoll Inc. (KNL), up $1.18 to $18.15

The furniture and accessories company reported a boost in second-quarter profit and revenue, exceeding Wall Street expectations.

Key Energy Services Inc. (KEG), down $1.34 to $7.03

The oil well and energy services company revised its second-quarter financial outlook and now expects to report a loss.

Nasdaq

Google Inc payday loans. (GOOG), up $21.35 to $595.08

The Internet giant reported a boost in second-quarter revenue and profit, despite an extended slump in advertising prices.

Skyworks Solutions Inc. (SWKS), up $6.53 to $52.87

The semiconductor company reported third-quarter profit above Wall Street expectations and set better-than-expected guidance.

Gentiva Health Services Inc. (GTIV), up $2.49 to $17.96

The home health company rejected a partial stake offer from Kindred Healthcare and said it received a buyout offer elsewhere.

RealPage Inc. (RP), down $4.74 to $16.68

The rental property management software company cut its revenue outlook citing weak leasing activity and low vacancy rates.

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July 18, 2014

Paradowski names Edinger executive creative director

Filed under: small business, uk — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 5:56 pm

Marketing agency Paradowski has named Jake Edinger its new executive creative director. 

Edinger, who previously was group creative director at ad firm Hughes Leahy Karlovic in St. Louis, replaces Brad Hauck in the role. Hauck left Paradowski in June and now is creative director at 2e Creative in St. Louis. 

Edinger is one of 17 new hires to Webster Groves-based Paradowski’s account management, creative, production and digital teams since January. The agency has nearly doubled its employee roster in the past two years, the firm said in statement announcing the hires.  

The other new hires are: Julia Ahrens, Rashida Nebbitt, Stephanie Drucker, Colleen Ewell and Karen McKinley, who joined its account management team; Ryan Bennett, Jake Eshelman, Natasha Zerjav and Dan Rayfield, who joined the creative team; and Corey Welch, Luke Thomas, Tim Pickett, Kevin Olsen, Derek Yeager, Keith Walter and Henry Roberts, who joined its digital team Online payday loans

Paradowski’s clients include Brown Shoe, Monsanto and Central Bancompany.

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July 17, 2014

300 vials labeled influenza, dengue found at lab

Filed under: Canada, finance — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 3:36 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The same federal scientist who uncovered forgotten vials of smallpox earlier this month also found over 300 undocumented vials at the same lab, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

FDA officials say the vials list the names of other contagious viruses and bacteria, including dengue, influenza and rickettsia. Previously the government only announced it had recovered six glass vials of smallpox dating from the 1950s.

The freeze-dried smallpox samples were found in a building at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, that has been used by the Food and Drug Administration since 1972.

The find was disturbing because for decades after smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, world health authorities said the only known samples left were safely stored in super-secure laboratories in Atlanta and in Russia.

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July 15, 2014

Authorities seize 67 giant African snails hidden in luggage at LAX

Filed under: marketing, technology — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 12:40 pm

LOS ANGELES —Two picnic baskets packed with 67 live giant African snails were seized by federal authorities at Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said Monday.

The shipment of snails, which weighed a total of more than 35 pounds and were reportedly intended for human consumption, was apparently the largest seizure at LAX of the mollusks, which are sometimes fried and served as a snack.

The snails were discovered in two picnic baskets, which weighed more than 35 pounds, said Lee Harty of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

They arrived from Lagos, Nigeria, she said.

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Florida battles giant stucco-eating snails

In the past, federal inspectors have discovered one or two of the large snails hidden in luggage, but this marked “the first time this pest has been encountered in such large quantity and as a consumption entry” in Los Angeles, said Todd C. Owen, director of field operations for the customs agency.

Giant African snails, also known as land snails, can live as long as 10 years and grow as big as a rat. They can carry parasites harmful to humans.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture deems the large snails as a damaging species because they consume more than 500 types of plants.

But when the snails can’t find fruits and vegetables to eat, they can gnaw through plaster and will “eat paint and stucco off of houses,” the customs agency said.

The incident remains under investigation.

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July 13, 2014

Thousands evacuate north Gaza after Israeli warning

Filed under: finance, small business — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 9:08 pm

GAZA, PALESTINE—Israel briefly deployed troops inside the Gaza Strip for the first time early Sunday as some 4,000 people fled southward from the northern part of the territory in the face of Israeli threats to step up attacks there.

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Neither Israel nor Palestinian militants show signs of agreeing to a cease-fire to end their weeklong conflict, despite calls by the United Nations Security Council and others that they lay down their arms. With Israel massing tanks and soldiers at Gaza’s borders, some fear the latest Israeli threats could signal a wider ground offensive that would bring even heavier casualties than the 166 Palestinian deaths already registered.

“All our ground forces are ready,” a senior Israeli military official said Sunday. “We have been training for this. We will exploit our ability the moment a decision is made to do so.”

Early Sunday, Israeli naval commandos launched a brief raid into northern Gaza to destroy what the military described as a rocket-launching site, an operation it said left four of its soldiers slightly wounded.

The Israeli air force later dropped leaflets warning residents to evacuate their homes ahead of what Israel’s military spokesman described as a “short and temporary” campaign against northern Gaza to begin sometime after 12 p.m. The area is home to at least 100,000 people.

It was not clear whether the possible attack would be confined to stepped-up airstrikes or whether it might include a sizeable ground offensive — something that Israel has so far been reluctant to undertake.

As the ultimatum drew near, hundreds fled Beit Lahiya, one of the communities the Israeli announcement affected. Some raced by in pickup trucks, waving white flags.

“They are sending warning messages,” resident Mohammad Abu Halemah said. “Once we received the message, we felt scared to stay in our homes. We want to leave.”

Adnan Abu Hassna, a spokesman for the U.N. agency in charge of aiding Palestinian refugees, said eight schools were opened as temporary shelters, and about 4,000 people had moved in. He said more schools would be opened if needed.

Essam Al Sultan, 46, a farmer from Beit Lahiya said he had taken the decision to flee the area because the youngest of his eight children had been terrorized by the constant sound of explosions in and around their community.

‘For me I don’t fear death because we are dying every single moment of this war but I left because I want to protect my family,” he said.

Ignoring international appeals for a cease-fire, Israel widened its range of Gaza bombing targets Saturday to include civilian institutions with suspected Hamas ties. One strike hit a centre for the disabled, killing two patients and wounding four people. In a second attack, an Israeli air strike flattened the home of a cousin of Gaza police chief Taysir al-Batsh and damaged a nearby mosque as evening prayers ended, killing at least 18 people. Fifty were wounded, including al-Batsh himself, who had earlier received warnings that he was an Israeli target and had moved away from his own home.

On Sunday, hundreds chanting “God is Great” joined the funeral procession for 17 members of al-Batsh’s extended family who were killed. Among the dead were his cousin and her husband, along with the couple’s seven children, ranging in age from 13 to 28. A neighbour also was killed.

Mourners carried the bodies, wrapped in the green flags of the Islamic militant Hamas, through the streets on stretchers.

The attack reduced al-Batsh’s cousin’s home to sand and rubble. Ahmad al-Batsh, a nephew of the police chief, said Israel had not given a warning before the strike.

Hamas activists said the group’s military wing had asked the families of its members to leave their homes, after Israel targeted several such homes in a series of airstrikes.

On Sunday, Palestinians with foreign passports began leaving Gaza through the Erez border crossing. Israel, which is co-operating in the evacuation, said 800 Palestinians living in Gaza have passports from countries including Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

Rawan Mohanna, a 21-year-old chemistry major at the University of Texas, said she had arrived in Gaza with her family a month ago because her older sister was getting married to a Gazan.

“We got the wedding out of the way before all of this happened,” Mohanna said. Mohanna, who lives in Dallas, said her family is now returning to the U.S. with mixed feelings because her newlywed sister and other relatives were staying behind.

“We are so fortunate … that we have the right to travel,” she said. “People in Gaza, they can’t even leave, and that’s such a basic right. It’s stripped away from them. It’s bittersweet that we get to leave but they are still there and they can’t get out.”

Israel has launched more than 1,300 air strikes since the offensive began, military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Sunday. Palestinian militants have launched more than 800 rockets at Israel, including 130 in the last 24 hours, the Israeli military said Sunday. Several Israelis have been wounded, but there have been no fatalities.

Israel has said it’s acting in self-defence against rockets that have disrupted life across much of the country. It also accuses Hamas of using Gaza’s civilians as human shields by firing rockets from there.

Critics say Israel’s heavy bombardment of one of the most densely populated territories in the world is itself the main factor putting civilians at risk.

The offensive marks the heaviest fighting since a similar eight-day campaign in November 2012 to stop Gaza rocket fire. The outbreak of violence follows the kidnappings and killings of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, the kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager in an apparent revenge attack, and wide-ranging Israeli moves against Hamas militants and infrastructure in the West Bank.

Foreign diplomats also continued their efforts to end the bloodshed. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will fly to Israel for talks Monday and Tuesday with both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Meanwhile, the Arab League will meet Monday to discuss the offensive.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he had appealed to U.N. Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon for “international protection” for the Palestinian people.

“The situation has become unbearable — hundreds of martyrs and thousands of wounded and huge destruction,” Abbas said. Despite forming a government with Hamas’ backing last month, Abbas’ influence in Gaza is minimal.

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July 12, 2014

Isle of Capri stock falls after company announces job changes

Filed under: Uncategorized, management — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 6:48 am

Stock in Isle of Capri took a beating Friday, a day after the Creve Coeur-based gaming company announced job shuffles in the executive suite.

Analysts interpreted the moves as a signal that a company sale, rumored for weeks, might be off.

Kim Noland, director of high yield research at Gimme Credit, an independent research service on corporate bonds, noted recent media reports that Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc. was considering a bid for Isle.

But in a research note Friday, she said the departure of Dale Black, Isle’s chief financial officer, “to pursue other interests,” and the appointment of Eric Hausler, the chief strategic officer, as CFO, “suggests a sale may not be as close as reported.”

Isle stock fell Friday to $8.69, down nearly 14 percent from Thursday’s close of $10.05.

Among other job changes Isle announced Thursday was the appointment of Robert Goldstein, the board’s vice chairman, as the board’s non-executive chairman.

Noland said the Goldstein family, which owns 40 percent of Isle, has been reported to have solicited purchase bids through a banker.

GLPI is a real-estate investment trust spun off last year by Penn National Gaming. Noland pointed out that as a REIT, GLPI would need to find an operator for Isle’s portfolio of properties in different states in an outright sale agreement cash advance loan no fax.

Isle is a regional gaming company with 15 casino properties in seven states. Its Missouri casinos are in Boonville, Cape Girardeau, Caruthersville and Kansas City.

Isle’s spokeswoman declined to discuss the job shuffles but pointed out the statement from Virginia McDowell, Isle’s chief executive, that the changes will streamline company operations and save $2.5 million annually.

At least one analyst, Robert Shore of Union Gaming Group, indicated that too much could be made of Isle’s job shuffles.

“We do not view changes, namely the change at CFO, as a negative development,” Shore said in a report Friday.

Black is “amply succeeded” by Hausler, who has 15 years of relevant experience, Shore wrote.

“He is also a highly skilled communicator with the investment community and acutely focused on maximizing shareholder value,” Shore added. “Further, we would not speculate one way or another on the impact of these changes to the likelihood of whether or not the company will be sold.”

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July 10, 2014

More ‘headline-grabbing’ corporate deals expected

Filed under: business, marketing — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 4:04 pm

LONDON (AP) — More “headline-grabbing” acquisitions are likely over the coming year as businesses take advantage of a period of improving economic growth and cheap financing.

That’s the conclusion of a survey by business consulting firm EY, which says the value of takeover deals announced in the first half of 2014 struck its highest level since the end of the boom years in 2007.

In its half-yearly update of corporate activity, EY said Thursday that the value of deals rose by 50 percent from the same period the year before to $1.7 trillion. Not since the global financial crisis first erupted, prompting companies to batten down the hatches, has the value of deals been that high.

For years, big mergers and acquisitions have been notable for their absence as companies stocked up on cash reserves to weather the global economic storms. Pursuing M&A was very much a secondary consideration for boards round the world.

The latest EY figures confirm change is afoot. From the planned $67 billion tie-up between Comcast and Time Warner, and AT&T’s $67 billion deal with DirecTV to Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ $55 billion hostile approach for botox maker Allergan, the last few months have seen a flurry of high-value corporate activity. Facebook even announced its biggest ever acquisition with a proposed $19 billion takeover of WhatsApp.

EY, which sourced data from Dealogic, said the next 6 to 12 months should continue to provide the “ideal window of opportunity” for businesses to pursue more deals. It said high equity valuations, low interest rates and cheap debt, as well as high cash levels built up during the years of retrenchment, have provided a favorable environment for deal-making low fee payday loans.

Those favorable conditions may fade as major central banks start raising interest rates as the global recovery gathers pace. In the U.S., expectations are for rates to start rising in 2015, potentially increasing the cost of financing deals.

“Leading companies will look to do smart and strategic M&A before the current deal climate changes, so we can expect more large, headline-grabbing acquisitions to come,” said Pip McCrostie, EY’s global head of M&A.

Though high in value, EY said the number of mergers and acquisitions remains low, with businesses seemingly looking for big, transformative deals.

Most of the M&A deal-making is happening in developed economies, such as the U.S., Britain and France, as executives think they are less risky options now that their economies are growing again. Though U.S. economic growth suffered a big setback in the first quarter due to bad weather, it’s poised to grow relatively strongly over the rest of the year. And the 18-country eurozone is growing consistently, albeit at a modest pace.

“Emerging high-growth and frontier markets will always be attractive in terms of investment, but safe and secure modest growth is attracting the most investment as the global economy moves into a new phase,” said McCrostie.

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July 9, 2014

Washington pot shop customers cheer 1st legal sale

Filed under: marketing, mortgage — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 12:32 am

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Cale Holdsworth strode to the register at Top Shelf Cannabis after inspecting and sniffing a glass jar filled with marijuana and said: “I’ll take two grams.”

Holdsworth paid $26.50 and held up the brown bag containing his pot as other customers applauded the store’s first transaction as Washington on Tuesday became the second state to allow people to buy marijuana legally in the U.S. without a doctor’s note.

“This is a great moment,” said the 29-year-old from Abilene, Kansas, as a swarm of reporters and television cameras recorded the moment. State law allows both Washington residents and people from out of state to purchase a limited amount of pot.

People began buying marijuana at 8 a.m. at Top Shelf Cannabis, one of two Bellingham stores that started selling the drug as soon as it was allowed under state regulations. Before it opened, several dozen people lined up outside the shop in this liberal college town of about 80,000 north of Seattle.

Holdsworth, wearing salmon-colored shorts and a brown sweatshirt jacket over a tie-dyed T-shirt, was first in line, along with his girlfriend, Sarah Gorton, and her younger brother. They showed up at 4 a.m.

Gorton said the trio was in Bellingham for her grandfather’s 84th birthday.

“It’s just a happy coincidence and an opportunity we’re not going to have for a long time,” said Gorton, a 24-year-old with dreadlocks and homemade jewelry. “I’m really thrilled to be a part of something that I never thought would happen.”

The start of legal pot sales in Washington marks a major step that’s been 20 months in the making.

Washington and Colorado stunned much of the world by voting in November 2012 to legalize marijuana for adults over 21, and to create state-licensed systems for growing, selling and taxing the pot. Sales began in Colorado on Jan. 1.

Washington issued its first 24 retail licenses Monday. An Associated Press survey of the licensees showed only about six planned to open Tuesday: two in Bellingham, one in Seattle, one in Spokane, one in Prosser and one in Kelso. Some were set to open later this week or next, while others said it could be a month or more before they could acquire marijuana to sell cash advance flexible payments.

It’s been a bumpy ride in Washington, with product shortages expected as growers and sellers scrambled to prepare. Pot prices were expected to be higher than what people pay at the state’s unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries.

That was largely due to the short supply of legally produced pot in the state. Although more than 2,600 people applied to become licensed growers, fewer than 100 have been approved — and only about a dozen were ready to harvest by early this month.

Colorado already had a regulated medical marijuana system, making for a smoother transition when it allowed those dispensaries to start selling to recreational pot shops Jan. 1.

Washington’s medical system is unregulated, so officials here were starting from scratch as they immersed themselves in the pot world and tried to come up with regulations that made sense for the industry and the public.

The rules include protocols for testing marijuana and requirements for child-resistant packaging. Officials also had to determine things like how much criminal history was too much to get a license, and what types of security systems pot shops and growers should have.

Washington law allows the sale of up to an ounce of dried marijuana, 16 ounces of pot-infused solids, 72 ounces of pot-infused liquids or 7 grams of concentrated marijuana, like hashish, to adults over 21.

Brian Kost, a 45-year-old Bellingham man, was among the first in line at Top Shelf Cannabis, in an industrial area off Interstate 5. He said he hadn’t smoked marijuana in 17 years because he didn’t like the hassle of trying to find it on the illegal market.

“With the chance to buy it legally, I just couldn’t pass it up,” Kost said. “I never thought I’d see the day.”

Gorton said she, her brother and boyfriend planned to head back to their relatives’ house and sample their purchase.

“We’re probably going to break open a bottle of wine, sit on the porch and enjoy this,” she said.

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July 7, 2014

Ifo

Filed under: finance, legal — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 9:37 am

Southern euro-region countries need debt relief to revive economic growth and creditors should pay the cost, said Hans-Werner Sinn, head of the German-based Ifo economic institute.

The Asian financial crisis that started in 1997 was resolved with debt forgiveness rather than by drawing on taxpayers

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