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VOL. 123 | NO. 54 | Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Daily Digest

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MATCU to Build Branch in Frayser

     Memphis Area Teachers' Credit Union filed application last week to build a 3,700-square-foot, full-service branch at 961 Whitney Ave. in Frayser, east of U.S. 51.
     The building permit was for $700,000, and total construction costs will be $1 million. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at the site March 31 at 2 p.m. Completion is set for late summer, and a grand opening will be held soon after the branch is open and fully operational.
     MATCU bought the Whitney Avenue property in October 2006 for $230,000 from James A. and Nell Holmes.
     It will be MATCU's 16th branch in the Memphis metropolitan area, and its 13th inside the city limits. The credit union also has branches in Oakland, Covington and Southaven.
     Maria McLendon, assistant vice president of marketing for the credit union, said the organization chose the location in hopes of extending its footprint to an area that previously has been underserved.
     "We want to put our branch locations where we can best serve the community and where we can best reach our membership," McLendon said. "We have a large body of people
     that are living and working within that area, and we needed to put a branch there so we could meet their needs for convenience and service."
     Architecture on the Frayser branch will resemble MATCU's Union Avenue branch, which recently was completed. Looney Ricks Kiss is architect on the Frayser branch, and Grinder, Taber & Grinder Inc. is the general contractor.
     Chartered in 1957, MATCU has 53,616 members and $537 million in assets, according to the most recent data from the National Credit Union Administration.

Council to Vote On Strip Club Ordinance

     The third and final reading of a proposed city strip club ordinance is on today's Memphis City Council agenda.
     The proposal differs from a county-wide ordinance that bans the serving of beer in strip clubs and requires dancers to wear pasties. The city's proposed ordinance would permit beer to be sold in the clubs. The city ordinance also does not require dancers to cover up with pasties.
     The Shelby County Board of Commissioners passed its ordinance in September to regulate activity in strip clubs. If the City Council ordinance does not pass, the county-wide ordinance would govern all strip clubs throughout the city beginning next month.
     Business owners and some city leaders have said they favor the county ordinance over the city's proposed ordinance.
     Council members also will vote on a resolution to amend the living wage for city of Memphis part-time and temporary employees 18 and older to a minimum of $12 per hour. The wage increase would go into effect July 1. Currently those city workers make at least $10 per hour, plus health benefits.
     The meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St.

Alexander Faces Another Foreclosure

     A first-run foreclosure notice on a property owned by Charles W. Alexander appears in today's Daily News on Page 27. The notice is one of more than 50 foreclosure notices filed against Alexander and his wife, Patricia, since the middle of February.
     The property facing foreclosure is 291 Meadowood Ave., which Alexander mortgaged in January 2005. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. currently is the owner and holder of the debt on the property.
     The foreclosure sale is scheduled for April 17 at noon at the southwest Adams Avenue entrance to the Shelby County Courthouse.
     The property is subject to an October 2006 Internal Revenue Service tax lien for $1,247.10.
     For more information on earlier foreclosure notices filed against the Alexanders, visit www.memphisdailynews.com.

International Paper Buys Weyerhaeuser Unit

     International Paper Co. is buying lumber and packing producer Weyerhaeuser Co.'s containerboard packaging and recycling unit for $6 billion in cash.
     The sale includes nine containerboard mills, 72 packaging locations, 10 specialty-packaging plants, four kraft bag and sack locations and 19 recycling plants. About 14,300 employees work at the containerboard packaging and recycling business.
     Weyerhaeuser said it plans to use a good part of the sale's proceeds to pay down debt.
     International Paper said it expects to complete the deal in the third quarter, and said it will add to earnings in 2009. The Weyerhaeuser unit is expected to function separately from International Paper until the deal is complete.
     The company had been considering a sale of the division as it looked to focus on its timber, wood products and real estate operations.
     International Paper said it will finance the transaction through debt and financing commitments from several financial institutions. The paper and wood products company expects to see a $1.4 billion tax benefit from the deal, bringing the net purchase price to about $4.6 billion.
     Meanwhile, Moody's Investors Service on Monday revised its outlook on International Paper to "Negative" from "Stable," citing the company's plan to buy Weyerhaeuser's containerboard packaging and recycling unit.
     Moody's affirmed International Paper's "Baa3" senior unsecured debt ratings and "Prime-3" commercial paper ratings, along with Weyerhaeuser's "Baa2" senior unsecured debt ratings and "Prime-2" commercial paper ratings.
     Moody's said it expects the acquisition to increase International Paper's already strong aggregate scale and boost its margin stability. But the immediate increase in debt load will be the biggest factor affecting the company's ratings in the short term, Moody's said.
     At the same time, Weyerhaeuser is expected to benefit from the debt reduction, which will be partially offset by lower product line diversity, less margin stability and a deterioration in the company's short-term financial performance, Moody's said.

Industrial Production Falls in February

     Industrial output fell in February by the biggest amount in four months, providing yet another gloomy assessment of the economy's health.
     The Federal Reserve said Monday that output at the nation's factories, mines and utilities dropped by 0.5 percent in February, the biggest decline since a 0.6 percent fall last October.
     It was a far weaker reading than the slight increase of 0.1 percent many analysts had been expecting. It served to underscore the severity of the current economic slowdown.
     The Federal Reserve moved aggressively over the weekend to keep a crisis in financial markets from spreading, and Fed officials are expected to follow with another sizable cut in interest rates for consumers at their regular meeting today.
     Meanwhile, the deficit in the broadest measure of foreign trade declined in 2007 after setting records for five straight years. The 9 percent improvement reflected strong growth in U.S. exports, which offset a soaring foreign oil bill.
     The Commerce Department reported the current account deficit fell to $738.6 billion last year, from an all-time high of $811.5 billion in 2006.
     The current account is the broadest measure of trade because it covers not only goods and services but also investment flows between the United States and other countries. It also represents the amount of dollars flowing into foreign hands to finance the country's overall trade deficit.

Orpheum Theatre Launches 80th Anniversary

     The Orpheum Theatre, one of the signature pieces of Memphis' Downtown landscape, is preparing to launch its 80th anniversary celebration this year by implementing a set of projects for 2008 designed to achieve a variety of aggressive goals.
     The theater's plan of action for the year includes building up a "new media" program, developing new ventures with local arts groups and venues around town and re-establishing partnerships with other local entertainment-related business such as hotels and restaurants.
     Starting in 2008, season subscribers will have new benefits to enjoy with their membership. One of those is the "Swap One" option, whereby a subscriber can trade tickets from one show they won't be attending for more tickets to a different show.
PROPERTY SALES 83 405 4,276
MORTGAGES 104 424 4,814
BUILDING PERMITS 148 883 10,151
BANKRUPTCIES 53 264 3,149