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VOL. 122 | NO. 125 | Friday, July 6, 2007

Daily Digest

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County Transfers Three Sites To Oasis of Hope Ministry

     Oasis of Hope Inc., an outreach ministry associated with Hope Presbyterian Church, is the recipient of three properties quitclaimed by Shelby County. The ministry paid $5,000 for the sites.
     The vacant lots include a site on Vollentine Avenue, one at 942 Tully St. and one at 1078 N. Sixth St. All three will be sites for homes built by Oasis of Hope's Hope House ministry.
     "We have an affordable-housing ministry as part of our outreach, and we seek to build quality, new, affordable homes for people in the community," said Terry Hoff, director of Oasis of Hope.
     Hope House also rebuilds damaged, old or blighted homes to sell at affordable prices to inner-city residents.
     No date has been set for the construction to start, but Hoff said it most likely will be in the next couple of years.
     "We have a few vacant lots in the neighborhood, and we don't have a plan as for right now which one is next, and which one is going to follow that one," Hoff said.
     Hope House also provides financial coaching for families once they have moved into their home. Each family has a personal finance coach who works with them on issues of budgeting and credit repair.
     "We try to keep the foreclosures as minimal as possible, and do everything we can to help the family," Hoff said.

Back Yard Burgers Stockholders To Consider Merger

     Stockholders of the Memphis-based restaurant chain Back Yard Burgers Inc. are scheduled to consider and vote on a merger proposal at a special meeting Aug. 3 in Memphis at a location still to be announced.
     The restaurant chain's stockholders of record at close of business today will be entitled to notice of the meeting and to vote on the offer, which calls for the Atlanta-based private equity firm BBAC LLC and its wholly owned subsidiary BBAC Merger Sub Inc. buying the chain for $38 million.
     The previously announced deal is slated to be completed during the third quarter. The time and place of the special meeting of stockholders will be spelled out in the company's proxy statement, expected to be mailed next week.

Blackstone Cements Status With Hilton Purchase

     Fresh off a $4.1 billion initial public offering, private-equity house Blackstone Group solidified its position as a power to reckon with on Wall Street with a multibillion dollar deal that gives the company control over a hotel empire with more than 600,000 rooms worldwide.
     On Tuesday, Hilton Hotels Corp. agreed to an all-cash buyout from Blackstone in a $20.1 billion deal that would instantly make Blackstone the world's largest hotel owner.
     The deal was valued at $26 billion including debt. Blackstone representatives said the company would combine cash from its real estate and corporate private equity funds to buy all outstanding Hilton shares for $47.50 each, a 32 percent premium over Tuesday's closing stock price.
     After Hilton's board approved the terms, company officials said the deal would close in the fourth quarter pending shareholder approval.
     Blackstone owns more than 100,000 hotel rooms in the United States and Europe, including La Quinta Inns and Suites as well as LXR Luxury Resorts and Hotels.
     Adding the Beverly Hills-based Hilton Hotels will bring an additional 2,800 hotels and 480,000 rooms in 76 countries and territories and includes such brands as Doubletree, Embassy Suites and Hampton Inn.
     Some analysts said real estate could have been a consideration in the deal for Blackstone, a major owner of commercial properties. While Hilton franchises the majority of its hotels, the company owns some valuable real estate such as the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
     Socialite Paris Hilton's grandfather, Barron Hilton, is co-chairman of the board with Stephen F. Bollenbach and owns 5.3 percent of Hilton Hotels' outstanding shares, according to the company's latest proxy statement.
     The stake consists of 20.8 million shares owned by the William B. Hilton Trust, of which Barron Hilton is a trustee, according to the proxy. Those shares will be worth $990 million if the deal is approved by shareholders.
     Blackstone said it intends to invest heavily in Hilton and does not foresee any significant divestitures.

 Ogletree Deakins Ranked In Chambers USA

     The Memphis office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart PC has been ranked as one of Tennessee's best law firms in the 2007 edition of Chambers USA. The office was recognized in the publication by its peers and clients for outstanding performance in the area of labor and employment law.
     Frederick J. Lewis, an attorney in the firm's Memphis office, was ranked as a leader in the field of labor and employment law. He received high marks in the latest edition and was praised by clients and peers for his exceptional legal abilities.
     Ogletree Deakins' Memphis office opened Sunday after joining with labor and employment law firm Lewis Fisher Henderson & Claxton LLP.

Luminetx Honored For VeinViewer Work

     Memphis-based Luminetx Corp., along with Integrated Design Systems of Great Neck, N.Y., has been awarded the Design Distinction Award by The International Design Magazine.
     The award recognizes the companies' collaborative design work on the VeinViewer, which made its debut on the market last fall.
     Luminetx and 149 other award winners from around the world will be featured in the magazine's July/August issue.
     VeinViewer is the first and only patented technology to locate subcutaneous veins and project real-time images directly onto the surface of the skin.

Winchester Airport Ramp Closed for Construction

     Beginning Monday and lasting through July 14, the Memphis International Airport entrance ramp from westbound Winchester Road will be closed because of continuing road construction.
     "We strongly advise passengers traveling to the airport to avoid westbound Winchester Road," said Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority president Larry Cox in a statement.
     He recommended motorists use one of three alternative routes: Interstate 240 to Plough Boulevard, Democrat Road to Plough or Shelby Drive to Airways Boulevard.

Fees for Unpaid Tickets Reduced by City Program

     Motorists who owe the city of Memphis money for unpaid court costs and traffic ticket fines can get them reduced through the City Court Clerk's Office's amnesty program through Dec. 31.
     Through the program, motorists with suspended licenses can pay 50 percent of their delinquent traffic fines and get their licenses reinstated.
     State law allows the city to forgive half the fees and fines more than 10 years old. To participate in the program residents should visit the City Court Clerk's Office at 201 Poplar Ave. or any of the six precinct locations. Bankruptcies are not eligible for the amnesty program.
     For more information or to determine if tickets are eligible for payment under the amnesty program, visit www.memphistn.gov or call the City Court Clerk's office at 545-5400.

Mortgage Rates Drop To Lowest Level in Month

     Rates on 30-year mortgages sank this week to a one-month low, while rates on most other mortgages also fell, good news to prospective home buyers.
     Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.63 percent. That was down from last week's 6.67 percent rate and was the lowest since early June, when rates stood at 6.53 percent.
     The moderation is welcome for people in the market to buy a home. In mid-June, rates on 30-year mortgages climbed to 6.74 percent, an 11-month high.
     Rates on many mortgages have ebbed in recent weeks as investors' fears about inflation have eased.
     The Federal Reserve in deciding to hold a key interest rate steady last week noted that some readings on core inflation have improved. The Fed's key rate has been at 5.25 percent for a year, offering borrowers a period of steadiness.
     Some other mortgage rates tracked by Freddie Mac also showed declines this week.
     Rates on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing, fell to 6.30 percent from 6.34 percent last week. And, rates on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 6.29 percent, down slightly from last week's 6.30 percent.
     However, rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 5.71 percent this week, compared with 5.65 percent last week.
     The mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. All mortgage types each carried a nationwide average fee of 0.4 point last week.
     A year ago, rates on 30-year mortgages stood at 6.79 percent, 15-year mortgages were at 6.44 percent, five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 6.39 percent and one-year ARMs were at 5.82 percent.
PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047