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VOL. 122 | NO. 132 | Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Daily Digest

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Whitten, Summer Ave. Centers Sell for $1.4 Million

     Neighborhood shopping centers at 2535 Whitten Road and 6349 Summer Ave. have sold for $1.4 million. James J. Skefos bought the properties from ZAM Properties Inc., financing the Whitten property through Jay Fatolahi - president of ZAM Properties - and Zahra Fatolahi for $490,615.
     The 1.1-acre Whitten property includes a 9,211-square-foot neighborhood shopping center and 1,728-square-foot warehouse, both built in 2004. It sits on the southwest corner of Reese Road and Whitten. Shelby County Assessor's 2007 appraisal was a little more than $1 million.
      The .55-acre Summer property includes a 5,500-square-foot, four-unit neighborhood shopping center built in 2003. It sits at the northeast corner of Summer Avenue and Summer Gale Drive. Shelby County Assessor's 2007 appraisal was $338,200.
     Skefos was not available for comment by press time.

Consumers Eligible for $2.7M In Predatory Lending Suit

     Hundreds of Tennessee consumers are eligible for a share of $2.7 million in restitution from Ameriquest Mortgage Co. and its affiliates as part of a national settlement of a predatory lending lawsuit against the companies, state officials said.
     Under the settlement, more than 481,000 borrowers who were customers of Ameriquest Mortgage Co., Town and Country Credit Corp. and AMC Mortgage Services Inc. between Jan. 1, 1999, and Dec. 31, 2005, are eligible for the restitution payments.
     The settlement resolves allegations that Ameriquest and its affiliates, among other things, misrepresented and did not adequately disclose the terms of home loans, such as whether a loan carried a fixed or an adjustable rate.
     Other allegations include charging excessive loan origination fees and prepayment penalties, and improperly inflating appraisals used to qualify borrowers for loans.
     "We hope this resolution will help consumers who were treated unfairly and that this agreement sends a powerful message to those who would seek to mislead borrowers," Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper said in a statement last week.
     In Tennessee, about 5,690 consumers are eligible for their portion of the settlement, which is estimated to be $325 million nationally.
     "We are pleased that an agreement could be reached and that so many Tennesseans will receive payments as a result of the settlement," said Greg Gonzales, commissioner of the Department of Financial Institutions.
     State officials began sending claim forms to consumers earlier this month. They must be mailed to the settlement administrator by Sept. 10.
     Consumers receiving payments relinquish their right to file lawsuits against Ameriquest related to the loans covered by the settlement.

Medtronic's Spinal Disc Questioned as Best Option

     Federal regulators will ask outside medical experts next week whether implanting an artificial spinal disc made by Medtronic is more effective than surgery at treating certain neck injuries.
     The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in documents posted online that Medtronic's Bryan implant is just as effective as the current surgical procedure for treating worn out spinal discs. But agency reviewers said it is unclear whether the titanium-coated plastic disc is superior to the spinal fusion procedure, in which a surgeon removes the damaged disc and brings together the surrounding vertebrae.
     Roughly 200,000 people in the U.S. undergo spinal fusion surgery each year, at an average cost of about $34,000, according to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. Medtronic said the total cost of implanting its device would be comparable.
     FDA will ask a panel of outside experts today whether the device should be approved and whether Medtronic should be able to claim it represents an improvement over currently available options.
     The Minneapolis-based company states the device is superior because it maintains patients' ability to turn their heads from side to side, something not possible after spinal fusion.
     Medtronic's Spinal and Biologics Business is based in Memphis.
     While company studies showed the disc to be 10 percent more effective than surgery, FDA reviewers say further analyses of the data show the device may not be that effective. About 15,000 people outside the U.S. already have been implanted with the device, according to Medtronic.
     The Bryan disc is the second spinal device from Medtronic to go before FDA's panel of orthopedic experts in the last year.
     In September, the panel voted unanimously for approval of a similar device from Medtronic made from stainless steel, though the agency has yet to issue a final decision. The panel said the Prestige disc should not be labeled as superior to surgery. If the FDA ultimately agrees with that assessment, some analysts say it will probably limit sales of the device.
     Both the Prestige and Bryan discs are approved for use in Europe.

Commercial Investment Class Offered by CCIM Chapter

     The Memphis Metro chapter of the CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Members) Institute will offer an Introduction to Commercial Investment Real Estate Analysis this week.
     The class will be held Wednesday through Friday at the Memphis Area Association of Realtors Education Center, 6393 Poplar Ave. Check-in on the first day is from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Class hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
     This introductory course provides an overview of every aspect of commercial real estate - from property inspection through follow-through after the property is sold. Participants will be introduced to the many ways to profit in the multi-faceted, dynamic field of commercial investment real estate.
     Every phase of commercial real estate analysis will be represented through a real-world application to a real property. Martin Edwards Jr. is the instructor.
     Call the chapter office at 218-0782 for more information or 800-621-7027 to register. Tuition is $350.

Delek US Holdings to Acquire Minority Interest in Lion Oil

     Delek US Holdings Inc., an energy business devoted to petroleum refining, marketing and supply, announced Monday it has entered into agreements with several shareholders of Lion Oil Co. to acquire a minority equity interest of 28.3 percent in Lion Oil. Lion owns refined petroleum products terminals in Memphis and Nashville.
     The total cash consideration paid to the selling shareholders will equal approximately $65.4 million in the aggregate. The transaction also requires Delek to issue more than 1.9 million shares of Delek Holdings Inc. common stock to TransMontaigne Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Morgan Stanley Capital Group Inc.
     The transactions are subject to obtaining a certain minimum equity ownership position in Lion Oil. The transactions are expected to close during the third quarter.
     Lion Oil, a privately owned company, owns and operates a high conversion crude oil refinery in El Dorado, Ark., which produces 75,000 barrels daily, three crude oil pipelines, as well as the terminals in Memphis and Nashville.
     "The assets of Lion Oil fit well with our operations and we expect this investment to immediately enhance the earnings of Delek," said Uzi Yemin, president and chief executive officer of Delek US, in a statement.
     Delek's marketing and supply segment markets gasoline, diesel and other refined petroleum products and convenience merchandise through a network of company-operated retail fuel and convenience stores such as MAPCO Express, MAPCO Mart, East Coast, Discount Food Mart and other brand names.

IHOP Buys Applebee's For $1.9B in Cash

     Glendale, Calif.-based IHOP Corp., best known for its blue-roofed pancake restaurants, has agreed to buy the bar-and-grill chain Applebee's International Inc. for about $1.9 billion in cash.
     IHOP CEO Julia Stewart, a former Applebee's executive, said once the deal closes, IHOP would revive the Applebee's brand and plans to turn it into primarily a franchisor by selling most of the 500 company-owned stores at a rate of 40 per quarter, a process that could take until 2010 to complete.
     "It's a great brand, it just needs to be revitalized," Stewart said on a conference call Monday. "We will fundamentally change the company's business model, moving it nearly completely out of the role of owner-operator."
     The changes could save $50 million per year by 2011.
     IHOP plans to open at least 30 to 45 new franchised Applebee's restaurants per year, IHOP chief financial officer Thomas Conforti said. IHOP also plans aggressive share repurchases to increase shareholder value, executives said.
     Conforti said the company does not anticipate any antitrust issues since they are not direct competitors. The deal requires approval by Applebee's shareholders but not investors in IHOP, since it is an all-cash deal.
     Under the deal, IHOP will pay $25.50 per share for Applebee's, which has been under pressure from shareholders because of slumping performance. The price being offered is a 4.6 percent premium over Applebee's closing price Friday.
PROPERTY SALES 106 318 6,336
MORTGAGES 131 363 7,084
BUILDING PERMITS 178 482 13,795
BANKRUPTCIES 40 208 4,301