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VOL. 124 | NO. 56 | Monday, March 23, 2009

Daily Digest

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Countrywood TIC Activity Surpasses Purchase Price

The Countrywood Crossing shopping center at 2257 N. Germantown Parkway in Cordova added its 32nd tenant-in-common (TIC) with the arrival of Countrywood-Hardt LLC of San Diego. That entity paid $2.2 million for 3.56 percent of the 175,000-square-foot shopping center.

The seller was Countrywood 1031 LLC, which bought the center for $55.2 million in March 2008; the company now has sold $56.6 million worth of TIC shares since the acquisition, the largest portfolio transaction in Shelby County in 2008.

Countrywood 1031 is the locally based limited liability affiliate of Inland Real Estate Exchange Corp., an entity of Oak Brook, Ill.-based real estate investment trust Inland Real Estate Group of Companies Inc.

Selling TIC ownership is standard practice in the real estate exchange business, in which investors shed fractional interest in a property to other investors in a deal akin to a stock transaction.

Countrywood Crossing is a multibuilding retail center that sits on about 60 acres at the intersection of Germantown Parkway and Market Plaza Drive. Tenants include Gordmans department store, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Shoe Carnival, Ulta cosmetics store, Ross Dress for Less and Kirkland’s Home, a home accessory store.

The center was developed by Round Rock, Texas-based StoneCrest Investments LLC, whose owners, Brad Smith and Greg Herman, formerly worked in Memphis for Weston Cos. StoneCrest still handles leasing for Countrywood Crossing.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

St. Jude Golf Tourney Drops Stanford Name

This summer’s PGA Tour golf tournament in Memphis, formerly known as the Stanford St. Jude Classic, has been renamed in the wake of an extensive federal investigation of former title sponsor Stanford Financial Group. Reflecting the troubles surrounding Stanford, the tournament – scheduled for June 8-14 at Southwind – has dropped the name of Stanford and is now the St. Jude Classic.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month described the Stanford family of companies as facilitating a massive investment fraud costing billions for investors.

The 52-year-old golf tournament has raised almost $22 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital since 1970, including $2.5 million in 2008.

Tournament director Phil Cannon said a search is under way for “companies that are willing to invest their marketing dollars in our event,” and he said a title sponsorship for the tournament would translate into a seven-figure commitment lasting four to 10 years.

“Several issues are associated with changing the name of the event, and most have to do with where the logo appears in print, on uniforms, the Web site, things like that,” he said. “We have our sales cap on now.”

Celebrities Lend Voices To St. Jude

In other St. Jude news, Jennifer Aniston, John Aniston, Gloria Gaynor, Olympia Dukakis, Alexis Christoforous, Frank Dicopoulos and Constantine Maroulis have all lent their voices to the narration of the third title in the award-winning series of illustrated books by Nick Katsoris for children ages 4 to 8.

“Loukoumi’s Good Deeds” continues detailing the adventures of a lamb. Two dollars from the sale of each book will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Citigroup CFO to Become Citi Holdings Chairman

Citigroup Inc. announced Friday that it tapped Chief Financial Officer Gary Crittenden to become chairman of the unit in charge of its riskier assets and tougher-to-manage ventures, the latest move in a massive management reshuffling at the struggling bank.

Citigroup, which has dealt with a plunging stock price, has been aided by three government rescue attempts. Last month, the bank agreed to the government acquiring up to a 36 percent stake as it contends with mounting losses tied to risky investments in the housing market.

The New York-based company has seen several executives depart and get replaced over the past year and a half – including its chief executive – but it is now starting to give new jobs to company veterans as it splits into two divisions.

The bank also said earlier last week that it was taking steps to overhaul its embattled board by nominating four new independent directors. The board has been widely criticized for allowing bank executives to make risky investments in the housing market and not having enough financial services experience. The new directors include two former bank CEOS and two other financial experts.

The four nominated directors will be up for election at the annual shareholders meeting in April. The board would have 14 members with four new directors, and the bank says it is considering future additions.

In January, Citigroup Chief Executive Vikram Pandit, who took the helm in December 2007, said the company was splitting in two divisions – Citi Holdings and Citicorp – after suffering its fifth straight quarterly loss. That month, the bank named Mike Corbat, previously head of the global wealth management division, as interim chief executive of Citi Holdings.

Citi Holdings runs the company’s local consumer finance businesses, its brokerage and asset management segments, and the pool of assets the government agreed to backstop losses on. Citicorp focuses on traditional banking.

As chairman of Citi Holdings – a newly created position – Crittenden will be responsible for maximizing the value of the division’s businesses.

Crittenden will be succeeded by Edward “Ned” Kelly, former head of global banking for Citi Private Bank. Kelly was also president and CEO of Citi Alternative Investments for Citi’s institutional clients group and is a member of Citi’s senior leadership and executive committees.

Crittenden, who has been CFO since March 2007, will work with Corbat.

Citi has about 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 140 countries.

Wal-Mart Awards Bonuses

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has paid $2 billion this year to its U.S. employees in bonuses, merchandise discounts and retirement contributions, the company announced late last week.

The world’s largest retailer reported Thursday that $934 million of the money went toward bonuses, averaging to $666 for each of the company’s $1.4 million domestic workers.

Wal-Mart Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke said $789 million was paid in profit sharing and retirement contributions and the remainder went to the employee stock purchase plan and merchandise discounts for workers.

In a letter, Duke congratulated employees for Wal-Mart’s recent successes in an economic environment that has its competitors struggling.

Tupelo Lighting Firm Lays Off 45 Workers

A Tupelo lighting company says it has laid off 45 workers, citing the economy.

Scott Williams, personnel director for the Day-Brite Group, said the employees, mainly in manufacturing, were notified last week.

With the layoffs, Day-Brite now employs about 650 people full time.

The announcement comes shortly after Day-Brite bought the property of neighboring Reynolds Hardware, which is moving to another location in April.

Williams says Day-Brite bought the property because the lighting company needed more room, not because of any expansion plan.

PROPERTY SALES 51 328 20,960
MORTGAGES 58 387 24,132
BUILDING PERMITS 170 842 43,435
BANKRUPTCIES 50 288 13,468