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VOL. 122 | NO. 237 | Thursday, December 13, 2007

Daily Digest

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Loeb Buys Half-Interest In E. Memphis Center

     Loeb Properties, working as an entity called Pearlco LP, has bought a half-interest in a multi-tenant retail building on Poplar Avenue east of Mendenhall Road for $2.4 million. Rhodes College was the seller.
     Built in 1963, the 63,000-square-foot building sits on six acres at 5014 Poplar Ave. and is occupied by Wild Oats Natural Marketplace and Office Depot. The purchase did not include other buildings surrounding the property.
     The Shelby County Assessor's 2007 appraisal was more than $5 million.
     The other half-interest is owned by a number of individuals.
     No changes are planned for the center, said Matt Prince, Loeb's senior vice
     president of brokerage and development.
     The property is one of three Loeb has bought under the Pearlco name. The others include a former Exxon gas station at 3599 Hickory Hill Road and 14.48 acres of vacant land in Arlington, Prince said.
     Loeb plans to begin site work on the Arlington property in March with plans to develop it into strip centers and outparcels, he said, adding the Hickory Hill property will remain a gas station under a lease agreement, though it likely will bear another brand.

Tax Preparer Sentenced To Nearly Six Years in Prison

     A Memphis tax preparer was sentenced Tuesday to five years and eight months in prison for filing false federal tax returns.
     U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla also sentenced Audria Bryant Branch Jackson, 32, to pay $181,877 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
     Jackson pleaded guilty in June to two counts of filing false claims. She admitted either inflating the wages earned and the tax amounts withheld or falsifying other information on the tax returns.
     Once Jackson is released from prison she is barred from working for a tax service business during the three years she is on probation.
     Jackson was first charged in a December 2005 indictment returned by a federal grand jury.

Grizzlies Business Exec Resigns Post

     Andy Dolich, president of business operations of the Memphis Grizzlies, has resigned effective Dec. 31, the team announced Wednesday.
     Dolich has been responsible for the overall day-to-day functioning of the business and marketing side of the
     Grizzlies and FedExForum, a position he was appointed to by team owner Michael Heisley in May 2000 when the team was still in Vancouver.
     "It was an honor to work for the Grizzlies organization and I am grateful for the incredible resources provided to our staff by Michael Heisley and our local owners," Dolich said in a statement. "Ownership is doing everything in their power to build a successful community-invested professional basketball franchise for all Memphians.
     FedExForum is a national jewel of a sports and entertainment facility that this community should be justifiably proud of."
     At press time, the Grizzlies had made no announcement about a successor to Dolich.

Memphis Investors Group To Tackle Credit Crunch

     "Learn How to Keep Your Credit Top Notch and What the Best Mortgage Products Are in Today's Market" is the broad-ranging topic for today's Memphis Investors Group monthly meeting.
     A panel of local mortgage experts will answer investors' questions on credit and recent changes to the mortgage industry.
     The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Germantown Centre, 1801 Exeter Road. The event is free for first-time visitors and to members. Repeat visitors pay $20.
     Additionally, several early-bird sessions will start at 6 p.m. Topics include: "Networking 101," "Getting Started Right in Real Estate" and "Goal Setting."
     Arnold Dormer, a local investor with more than 30 years of experience, will lead the "Getting Started Right in Real Estate" session.

Northwest Seeks Approval Of Pension Changes

     Northwest Airlines Corp. has joined with its pilots union to seek approval from a federal court for a change in its pension
     that is opposed by some older pilots.
     The changed pension plan was proposed by the Air Line Pilots Association and accepted by the company. The union and the airline said in a joint statement Wednesday that while they believe the plan is legal, "some longer-serving pilots contend that it is unlawful."
     While Delta Air Lines Inc. and UAL Corp.'s United Airlines both terminated pilot pensions during bankruptcy, Northwest froze its pension benefits, preserving the core plan. Northwest exited bankruptcy protection May 31.
     The issue revolves around how benefits are divided between younger and older pilots. Pilots earn their pensions over the first 25 years of their careers, so older pilots already had earned most or all of a full pension. Younger pilots had not earned full benefits and the freeze in Northwest's pension meant they never will.
     Dave Stevens, the head of the Northwest branch of ALPA, said the new plan will "produce similar levels of final retirement income for both groups of pilots."

U.S. House Extends Do-Not-Call Program

     The U.S. House of Representatives voted to make permanent the program
     protecting people from telemarketer calls, relieving consumers from having to renew their participation in the do-not-call registry.
     After Congress in 2003 created the do-not-call registry shielding millions of people from those dinnertime interruptions from telemarketers, the Federal Trade Commission wrote rules requiring consumers to re-register their phone numbers every five years.
     The new legislation would eliminate
      that requirement by making the list permanent. At the same time, it requires the FTC to periodically remove numbers that have been disconnected and reassigned.
     A second bill passed by the House makes permanent a funding system under which the FTC collects fees from telemarketers to operate the registry. Consumers participate in the registry free of charge.
     Some 146 million people have signed up for the do-not-call list.
     "This might quite possibly be one of the most popular laws and government initiatives in our nation's history," said Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C.
     Both bills passed on voice votes. They still need Senate approval.

Valero President Resigning at Year's End

     The president of Valero Energy Corp. announced Tuesday that he will resign at the end of the year.
     Greg King, 46, will resign effective Dec. 31 after 14 years with the San Antonio-based oil refiner.
     Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Klesse said the resignation was unexpected.
     King has been president since January 2003 and oversaw the financial, administrative and retail divisions. Before that, he was Valero's chief operating officer beginning in 1999.
     Valero, the largest refiner in North America, operates 17 refineries in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean and has roughly 21,000 employees. Valero operates a Memphis refinery that employs about 350 and handles a throughput capacity of about 195,000 barrels a day.

Memphis Air Service Receives Roundabout Plug

     Odd as it might sound, air service in Memphis received a roundabout plug recently in a Mississippi judge's order that's part of the unfolding legal case against Richard "Dickie" Scruggs.
     Scruggs is the prominent Mississippi attorney accused of trying to bribe a judge. U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander shot down a request by Scruggs to let his lawyers fly back and forth from California, Alabama and Mississippi on Scruggs' private plane. The reason? Commercial air travel readily is available between those areas.
     As an example, Alexander pointed to Northwest Airlines, which has more than 20 flights from San Francisco to Memphis, most of which average less than $300 round-trip, according to the recent order.

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