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VOL. 122 | NO. 110 | Thursday, June 14, 2007

Daily Digest

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Boyle Files $24M Loan To Build SunTrust Site

     Boyle Investment Co. has filed a $24 million construction loan for the 155,000-square-foot office building that will house consolidated offices for SunTrust Banks Inc. Boyle filed the loan under the name Boyle 999 Shady Grove LLC, and SunTrust was the lender.
     The building is one of two 155,000-square-foot Class A office structures planned in Boyle's Ridgeway Center near Poplar Avenue and Interstate 240. SunTrust is slated to lease 50,000 square feet on three floors of the 999 S. Shady Grove building - now dubbed the SunTrust Building - and will occupy the space Feb. 1, 2009, said Mark Halperin, Boyle executive vice president.
     No other tenants have been announced, he said.
     Atlanta-based SunTrust earlier this year confirmed plans to move to East Memphis from its 170,000-square-foot space in the One Commerce Square building Downtown, The Daily News reported in April. The plans included consolidation of five existing office buildings in three locations.
     Halperin said construction is ahead of schedule due to the dry weather. Steel is on site and framing will begin next week, he said.
     The building will have surface parking and one level of underground parking.
     The SunTrust Building and its twin will occupy the last site in the 200-plus-acre, mixed-use Ridgeway Center development, according to a Boyle news release. Halperin said construction on the second building could begin as early as an anchor tenant signs on to that project.

Case Against Judge Fields Kicked Out of District Court

     A case against local Circuit Court Judge Donna Fields has been kicked out of District Court. Fields presides over Division 7 of the Circuit Court of Tennessee for the 30th Judicial District at Memphis.
     Rosine Ghawji, who has a divorce case in Fields' courtroom, filed the suit against Fields earlier this year saying the judge had violated her civil rights during the ongoing trial.
     Ghawji has been involved in a divorce against her husband, Dr. Maher Ghawji, a prominent endocrinologist, since 2004.
     Among other things, Rosine has claimed her husband has terrorist ties and planned to take the couple's two sons to Syria to enlist them in the Syrian army.
     The case has garnered national attention with the claims of terrorist ties and the suit against Fields.
     In the District Court suit, Ghawji and her attorney Larry Klayman were seeking to enjoin Fields from continuing the proceedings in her divorce case. The case went before Judge Samuel H. Mays Jr. in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee and since has been dismissed. Ghawji also filed a case against Fields in a Florida court, which also has been dismissed.
     Attempts to reach Fields for comment were unsuccessful.
     "Mr. Klayman has filed suit in Federal Court in Orlando, Fla., and Memphis, Tenn., and in each instance he attacked Judge Fields and each court dismissed his lawsuits. This only goes to show that the advice Mr. Klayman gave to Ms. Ghawji was misguided at best," said David Caywood, one of the attorneys representing Maher in the divorce case. "He did a disservice to Ms. Ghawji. He attempted to engage in removing the case from Judge Fields' jurisdiction when there was no reasonable hope of doing so."
     Klayman said he plans to appeal the District Court ruling.
     "We're appealing it to the Sixth Circuit," Klayman said. "And we're confident of success."

MLGW Decision to Sell Memphis Networx Expected

     Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division's (MLGW) board of commissioners are expected to pull the plug next week on the utility's involvement in the public-private venture Memphis Networx, a telecom firm started in 1999 with a hefty investment from the utility company and a group of prominent Memphis businessmen.
     The decision to sell the company - which will be voted on at the MLGW board meeting Thursday - appears to have been born out of the recommendation of a consultant hired several months ago to assess what long has been a cash-strapped operation. The decision to sell Memphis Networx for $11.5 million to a Colorado holding company - and the fact MLGW will lose nearly $29 million in ratepayer money it invested in the venture - was made public in news
     reports this week, yet it didn't catch everyone by surprise.
     The McLean Group, a Virginia-based investment banking group, was hired in January after Memphis Networx's leadership decided the startup had reached a dead-end in terms of finding new funding sources to keep the operation stable. Options to sell a partial interest, a majority interest or the entire ownership were discussed as a result of The McLean Group's findings, and MLGW board member Nick Clark said, "We determined the best opportunity for value was just to sell the whole thing."
     Though it pumped the most money into the venture and stood the most to lose, MLGW nevertheless is the minority owner of Memphis Networx. The public utility has a 49.5 percent ownership in Memphis Networx, while the group of prominent investors - including FedEx founder Fred Smith and AutoZone founder J.R. "Pitt" Hyde III - control 50.5 percent.

Tennessee Launches Export Award

     Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen and Economic and Community Development (ECD) Commissioner Matt Kisber have announced the creation of a new business award designed to spotlight the achievements of Tennessee companies engaged in global trade.
     The Governor's Award for Trade Excellence will be handed out to small-, medium- and large-sized companies at the annual Governor's Conference on Economic and Community Development, Sept. 12-13 at the Nashville Convention Center.
     "Businesses in Tennessee have made great strides in terms of engagement in the global marketplace over the past five years," Bredesen said in a statement. "I believe greater emphasis on exporting Tennessee products around
     the world will result in more good jobs for Tennesseans."
     The awards will be given in three categories: large companies (250 or more employees), medium-sized companies (less than 250 employees) and small companies (25 employees or less).
     Companies may nominate themselves or be nominated by a trade association, customer or a person familiar with the company's achievements. Nominations may be submitted online at the ECD Web site at www.tnecd.gov or an application may be downloaded and mailed to ECD.
     The department along with international trade experts from the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Nashville will review applications and make recommendations to Bredesen and Kisber for final approval. Application criteria and nominating details are available on the ECD Web site. The deadline for nominations is Aug. 17.

Lottery Scholarship Bill Fails Before Lawmakers Adjourn

     A bill that would have changed the rules for keeping a lottery scholarship has failed for the session.
     Lawmakers couldn't agree on the cost of the measure or what standards to change about the scholarships before the Tennessee House adjourned its session for the year.
     Senate sponsor Jamie Woodson said the House version of the bill would cost $50 million more than what the lottery is expected to raise for scholarships over the next two years.
     "There are many good ideas that are on the table," said Woodson, R-Knoxville. "But you can't pour five gallons of milk into a one-gallon bucket."
     The House bill, sponsored by House Education Chairman Les Winningham, D-Huntsville, passed 94-1 Monday.
     The two chambers differed over one of the major provisions of the bill: whether to drop the cumulative grade-point average needed to keep the HOPE scholarship.

Olympic Medalist Makes Stop in Memphis

     Olympic snowboarder, bronze medalist and liver transplant recipient Chris Klug will be the featured guest at a reception for The Transplant Resource Center at Methodist University Hospital's Transplant Institute today at the Memphis Botanic Garden.
     In 1993, Klug was diagnosed with a rare liver disease that has no cure. Klug received a liver transplant in 2000 at the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver.
     Klug won a bronze medal at the Winter Olympics in Park City, Utah a year and a half later.
     "Chris Klug's story is a wonderful testament to the quality of life transplant recipients can enjoy and also draws attention to the importance of organ donation," said Daniel Stanton, administrator of the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute, in a statement.

This report compiled by Rosalind Guy with contributions from reporters Andy Meek, Eric Smith and Amy O. Williams, research analyst Kate Simone, editorial assistant Rebekah Hearn and The Associated Press.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 32 344 10,222
MORTGAGES 52 452 13,327
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 30 106 2,644
BUILDING PERMITS 0 783 24,307
BANKRUPTCIES 60 359 9,892
BUSINESS LICENSES 23 133 3,736
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 76 595 14,558
MARRIAGE LICENSES 23 104 3,167

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