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VOL. 6 | NO. 43 | Saturday, October 19, 2013

Daily Digest

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Wright Medical to Buy French Biotech Firm

Memphis-based Wright Medical Group Inc. announced Wednesday, Oct. 16, it has an agreement to buy the French company Biotech International for $75 million.

Biotech is a privately held manufacturer of surgical implants and advanced fixation technologies that deal with fractures. In the case of Biotech, its devices are primarily in the extremities market. In this case, that market is for European devices for feet and ankles.

Preliminary terms of the acquisition Wednesday were $75 million to be paid at closing of the deal, with $55 million of that in cash and the remaining $20 million in Wright common stock.

The terms also include up to $5 million in cash if Biotech reaches agreed-upon revenue goals in 2014 and 2015 once it is owned by Wright.

Biotech will spin off its dental business before closing, which is anticipated by the end of this calendar year.

First Horizon Honored For IT Practices

Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. has been again named to the InformationWeek 500 list of the nation’s most innovative users of business technology.

It’s the fifth straight appearance on the list for the company, which is the parent of First Tennessee Bank. First Horizon was recognized for developing mobile banking services that keep pace with the changing preferences of business customers.

The InformationWeek 500 tracks the information technology practices of the nation’s most innovative IT organizations.

Electrolux to Donate Appliances in Memphis

Electrolux will donate $100,000 in cooking appliances and products to low-income Shelby County residents, just in time for the busy holiday season.

The company, which recently completed construction on its 750,000-square-foot Memphis manufacturing facility, will deliver Frigidaire Gallery double-oven ranges and Frigidaire countertop microwaves to Neighborhood Christian Center on Thursday, Oct. 24, for distribution to low-income Shelby County families.

The company will make a similar donation in Charlotte, N.C., where Electrolux North America has its headquarters.

Zachary Kerr, chief program officer for Neighborhood Christian Center, said the donation will help fill a large need.

“Many people request appliances from the Neighborhood Christian Center, especially ovens,” said Kerr. “The high level of requests means that we often run out of ovens. This generous donation will help to meet this need; we are honored to receive this gift.”

J.B. Hunt Transport Inc. volunteered to deliver the cooking products.

Shelby County residents in need of an oven or microwave should contact the Neighborhood Christian Center hotline at 881-6013. Applicants will need to provide proof of homeownership for an oven donation and proof of homeownership or rental agreement for a microwave donation; a Tennessee state ID or driver’s license; their most recent pay stub or SSI statement; and a vehicle to transport the appliance.

MAAR Recognizes Long-Serving Members

The Memphis Area Association of Realtors has honored more than 20 industry professionals with the Realtor Emeritus designation. The Realtor Emeritus designation recognizes individuals who have held successive membership in the National Association of Realtors and a local association for 40 years.

This year’s honorees, recognized Wednesday, Oct. 16, are: Russell “Rusty” Bloodworth, Bebe McWater, Edith Barlow, Gary Blume, Wanda Bowen, Sue Ruby, Mark Halperin, Charles Callis, Jerry Davidson, Nell Wade, Roger Watkins, William “Bill” C. Irby, Jeanne Lubiani-Carnes, David Peck, Kathleen Pender, Nick French, James R. Maddox Jr., Myra Quinley, Robert B. Tayloe, Duke Schaeffer, Alta Simpson, Shirley Westby and William Cary Whitehead III.

Trumbull Labs Receives Pathology Accreditation

Trumbull Laboratories LLC has been awarded accreditation by the Accreditation Committee of the College of American Pathologists based on the results of a recent onsite inspection.

The CAP program has been recognized by the federal government as being equal to or more stringent than the government’s own laboratory inspection program. CAP is the world’s largest association composed exclusively of board-certified pathologists.

During the CAP accreditation process, inspectors examine the management of the laboratory and the laboratory’s records and quality control measures for the preceding two years. CAP inspectors also examine laboratory staff qualifications, equipment, facilities, and safety programs and records.

Haslam Meets With Bond Rating Agencies

Gov. Bill Haslam is making his annual case for Tennessee to keep its strong bond rating.

The Republican governor traveled to New York on Wednesday to meet with the three main bond rating agencies, Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Inc.

Haslam told reporters this week that he’s been asked to address the impact on the state of the partial shutdown of the federal government along with the effects of previous federal spending cuts.

Federal dollars account for about half of the state’s annual $32.8 billion budget.

A Fitch analysis of all 50 states released earlier this year concluded that Tennessee’s debt ratio was the lowest in the nation.

Higher bond ratings means lower interest rates on borrowing for the state.

U of M Law School Hosts Admissions Workshop

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will host an admissions workshop and recruitment fair next week.

The event on Tuesday, Oct. 22 ,from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. is free and open to the public.

The school’s pre-law adviser and the dean of admissions from the law school will co-present the admissions workshop from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Then from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., representatives from six law schools will be available to talk to interested students about their respective schools.

In addition to Memphis, the schools include the University of Tennessee, University of Mississippi, Mississippi College, Baylor University, and Belmont University School of Law. Other representatives from the University of Memphis will also be available to talk to students interested in the joint- and dual-degree programs.

Interested students should make reservations by contacting Penny Rogers at rpenny@memphis.edu or 678-5403.

Council Delays Funding For Southbrook Mall

Memphis City Council members held up Tuesday, Oct. 15, on approving the portion of the minutes from their Oct. 1 meeting that would set in motion $1.5 million in city funding for a renovation of Southbrook Mall in Whitehaven.

The council approved the measure Oct. 1 contingent on Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s administration researching the legality. The funding for the improvements would come from federal funding for streetscape improvements along Elvis Presley Boulevard between Brooks Road and Shelby Drive.

But the mall may be considered a private use for which such government funding cannot be used. If it is a private use and the federal funding is used, it would jeopardize the renovation project and could lead to a withdrawal of funding for the larger streetscape project.

The administration didn’t have a legal opinion Tuesday on the matter and wanted another two weeks before the council made the funding final with the approval of the meeting minutes.

In other action Tuesday, the council approved a $225 million general improvement refunding bond issue and a companion $150 million issuance of commercial paper in general obligation bonds. The bonds are part of a process of moving short-term city debt of one to three years to longer-term debt of approximately 20 years.

The council also approved a residential tax abatement program contingent on approval from the Tennessee attorney general. The measure, sponsored by council member Lee Harris, targets “tax dead” or “tax limbo” properties in which owners owe much more in back property taxes than the property is worth. The state Attorney General’s office is being asked to issue a legal opinion on the program.

FedEx to Buy Back Up to 32 Million Shares

FedEx is planning to buy back up to 32 million shares of its common stock.

The package delivery company said that the new repurchase authorization augments the remaining 7.4 million shares under its existing buyback program. FedEx repurchased 2.8 million shares in its fiscal first quarter. The company had 317 million outstanding shares as of Sept. 30.

Last month FedEx reported that its first-quarter profit climbed 7 percent. The company also announced that it would raise prices on many U.S. shipments in January.

Overton Square Gets New Signage, Website

Loeb Properties Inc. is introducing a new branding campaign for Overton Square that pays tribute to the district’s storied past while including a more modern approach.

Loeb is eschewing the speak box images that dotted the area during redevelopment and is introducing a new “Overton Square” marker.

The new signs are similar to the original ones that marked the district, but include three color schemes featuring bright colors that invoke the public art located throughout the district.

The letters O and S are also interlocked, which Loeb said provides a more modern option of an abbreviated medallion.

“The purple speak box logo was perfect for our development phase, as the image of the speak box encouraged the public to have a voice and share their ideas about what we are doing at Overton Square,” said Lou Loeb, executive vice president of Asset Management for Loeb.

“As our focus turned more toward operations, we decided to bring back an updated version of the original icon as a symbol of all the public passion that made this rebirth possible.”

The redesign also includes a new website, www.overtonsquare.com, created by RocketFuel.

Commission Approves Prison Medical Contract

The Shelby County Commission approved Monday, Oct. 14, an $18.2 million annual contract with Correct Care Solutions LLC to provide medical services to prisoners at the Shelby County jail and inmates at the county corrections center. The contract includes four one-year renewal periods and is the highest-dollar contract on which the commission votes.

Correct Care Solutions won a separate contract earlier this year to provide such services for children in detention at Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court.

Commissioner Mike Ritz led critics of the contract, saying the county should rebid it because Correct Care Solutions was the only bidder and because the contract could have been broken into parts to encourage more bidders.

Other commissioners and Luttrell said there were attempts to do that and any bidder could have bid on just one part of the contract. Luttrell also said he talked with local hospital and health care corporations about taking on the contract but got no takers.

In other action, the commission approved $750,000 in funding for the Nov. 21 city of Memphis referendum on a half-percent sales tax hike. The money is to be reimbursed to the county.

The commission also approved a $396,094 contract with the University of Memphis for Geographic Information System design and data collection services through visual stream surveys.

And commission Chairman James Harvey’s ordinance to regulate used-tire dealers and haulers in the unincorporated county passed on the second of three readings.

Black Girls CODE Holds Next Workshop Nov. 2

The Memphis chapter of Black Girls CODE is hosting its fifth workshop Nov. 2 in the Nolan Engineering Building at Christian Brothers University.

The workshop will be geared toward introducing participants to animation, gaming and creating interactive stories, and no prior programming experience is required.

Core team lead Meka Egwuekwe said the organization hopes that after participating in the classes, girls decide it is easy and fun to code – and that some of them decide to pursue careers in software.

Workshops are $35 per child, with limited scholarships available. Because of limited space, parents are encouraged to register children online as soon as possible.

The workshop is open to all girls ages 10-17.

For additional information, contact Egwuekwe at meka@lokion.com or 901.484.4203.

EM Printing Buys Jaco-Bryant Printers

EM Printing, a provider of printing solutions, has acquired commercial printing company Jaco-Bryant Printers Inc.

Bartlett-based EM Printing bought Jaco-Bryant from 3D-eyewear manufacturer American Paper Optics.

EM Printing generated more than $4.7 million in sales in 2012, and Jaco-Bryant grossed $3 million in sales that same year. The two companies’ combination will add 15 full-time employees to the EM Printing staff, maintaining all Jaco-Bryant customer-facing positions.

The Orpheum Theatre To Host Annual Auction

The Orpheum Theatre is gearing up for its 35th annual auction.

The auction, which is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year, will kick off a yearlong celebration of The Orpheum’s 85th anniversary.

This year’s event will begin with an online auction opening Monday, Oct. 21, at auction.orpheum-memphis.com, and will culminate Nov. 16 at 6:30 p.m. with silent and live auctions.

The silent auction will offer more than 400 items, while the live auction will feature several unique bidding opportunities, including a 2014 Nissan Pathfinder from Wolfchase Nissan, a set of 2013-2014 University of Memphis men’s basketball season tickets and a trip for two to the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C.

In addition to the auctions, the Orpheum will host a live drawing for its annual raffle: a 1995 Ferrari Spider. Raffle tickets are $100 per entry.

All raffle and auction proceeds will benefit the Orpheum’s new $14.5 million Centre for Performing Arts.

Martin Institute Begins New Teacher Sessions

The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence on Tuesday, Oct. 15, opened its set of six after-school conferences for educators in their first three years of teaching.

The New Teacher Network series begins with a session on classroom management, to be held on the campus of Presbyterian Day School, where the institute’s offices are located.

The goal of the New Teacher Network is to get new teachers from public and private schools in the region to talk and network about common classroom problems and receive coaching from more experienced teachers.

Wunderlich Initiates Coverage of Regions

Memphis-based Wunderlich Securities Inc. has initiated coverage of financial services giant Regions Financial Corp with a “buy” rating.

Wunderlich also has put a 12- to 18-month price target of $12 on Regions shares.

“Although Regions suffered significant losses during the credit crisis and was late to the recovery game, management’s return to banking basics by simplifying the playbook and focusing on blocking and tackling is starting to pay off for Regions’ shareholders,” reads Wunderlich’s first analyst commentary about Regions. “With Regions shares trading at a meaningful discount to peers, we believe current levels offer an attractive opportunity for investors to acquire shares of one of the few remaining recovery stories that also happens to operate in the most populous and fastest-growing economic regions in the U.S.”

FedEx Breaks Ground On Cold-Storage Facility

FedEx Express broke ground Thursday, Oct. 10, on a new temperature-controlled facility and heavyweight pickup and delivery operation at the FedEx Express SuperHub at Memphis International Airport.

The 88,000-square-foot facility will connect directly with Memphis hub operations, increasing efficiency for shipments throughout the FedEx Express network, while also enhancing handling of customers’ cold chain shipments.

“With our new, world-class cold chain facility, we will be able to better manage health care products and other perishables in the event of unforeseen delays, such as clearance holds or inclement weather, and give our customers the peace of mind they deserve when shipping sensitive goods,” Richard W. Smith, managing director, FedEx Express Life Sciences and Specialty Services, said in a release.

The new facility, which is scheduled to be complete and in operation by the fall of 2014, was designed to ensure shipments will remain within their intended temperature range, including flexible walls that allow precise temperature control and segregation of commodities. It also will have a station where dedicated personnel will monitor cold chain rooms and dry ice replenishment and gel pack exchange capabilities.

Metropolitan Bank Raises $5.5 Million in Capital

Metropolitan Bank has wrapped up a capital raise of $5.5 million, bringing the total capital raised by the bank since its inception in 2008 to more than $57 million.

Metropolitan president and CEO Curt Gabardi said the capital will be used to fuel the company’s current and future organic growth over the next several years. Metropolitan has grown steadily since its founding, recently posting its 16th straight quarter of increased earnings.

In the third quarter, the bank brought in pre-tax earnings of about $2 million, up 24 percent from the second quarter. The bank has about $775 million in assets and eight banking offices.

Organizations Honored For Homebuyer Education

United Housing Inc. and the Binghampton Development Corp. have been recognized by the state for their role in creating homebuyer education programs.

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency recently awarded the groups THDA’s Founders Award for their efforts in creating the foundation for homebuyer education in Tennessee.

Tim Bolding and Sharon Walker of United Housing and Ruth Gibson of the Binghampton Development Corp. were ground-floor participants in Tennessee’s creation of a statewide homebuyer education program.

Research shows that homebuyers who receive pre-purchase housing counseling and education were one-third less likely to fall behind on their mortgages 90 days or more two years after taking out the loan, compared to homebuyers who didn’t receive similar counseling and education.

The research was done for NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit affiliated with

United Housing, by Neil Mayer and Associates and Experian, and is based on approximately 75,000 mortgage loans originated in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

“The latest research clearly tells us that we need to help families with their housing issues ahead of time, staving off family stress, financial difficulties and costs that are borne by neighbors and the city,” Bolding said.

During the last fiscal year, United Housing counseled more than 1,000 individuals and families through its programs. The organization also assisted 541 families during the year, helping 284 purchase a home while helping save 257 from foreclosure. Last year, Binghampton Development Corp. assisted 291 clients, including 76 homebuyer clients and 131 foreclosure interventions.

Big Mississippi Universities Propose Tuition Increases

Mississippi's two largest universities could increase tuition by 5 percent a year over the next two years, while three smaller universities could hold tuition flat, according to a plan a College Board committee considered Wednesday.

While the board is likely to vote on the plan Thursday, rules require a second vote after 30 days. That means increases can't become final until after the board meets in November.

Average in-state tuition would rise 2.8 percent to $6,509 in 2014-2015, including mandatory facility fees, under the proposal. In 2015-2016, average tuition would rise 3 percent to $6,703.

The plans would push tuition above $7,000 a year at the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, and the University of Southern Mississippi.

PROPERTY SALES 61 61 6,453
MORTGAGES 46 46 4,081
BUILDING PERMITS 113 113 15,474
BANKRUPTCIES 19 19 3,289