Holiday schedule: Wall Street has one of those half-day sessions (the markets close at 1 p.m. NY time), although there will be June auto sales and factory orders to chew over (factory orders fell in May, but less than expected). Expect light posting for most of the day.
Package deal: L.A.'s Leonard & Partners is buying a majority stake in Dallas-based The Container Store, which sells those storage and organization items and has been somewhat of a Wall Street darling. Purchase price wasn't disclosed, but the chain expects 2007 sales of more than $600 million. It's been on the block for the better part of the year, though the folks at Leonard Green first took notice when the Container Store opened its first L.A. store at Westfield Century City shopping center – less than a mile from the investment firm’s offices. "I started asking my friends about it, and I only heard positive comments," Jon Sokoloff, managing partner at Leonard Green, told the Dallas Morning News.
Raiders finally lose: The litigation that would never end apparently has. The California Supreme Court refused to revive the team's lawsuit against the NFL, which had owner Al Davis claiming that the league forced his move back to Oakland 12 years ago by refusing to help him get a new stadium built at Hollywood Park. A Los Angeles jury in 2001 had rejected Davis' claims, but the trial judge threw out the verdict and ordered a new trial after several jurors accused two members of the panel of misconduct. An appellate court in 2005 restored the jury verdict. From the San Jose Mercury News:
Davis had claimed more than $1 billion worth of damages from the NFL, but jurors didn't believe his account that the league forced his decision to move back to Oakland by imposing onerous terms before it would help build a new Hollywood Park stadium. The jury sided with the NFL, which argued Davis took the deal in Oakland because he thought it would turn out best for the team. After the verdict was reached, Davis personally interviewed jurors and found some who were willing to sign statements saying a member of the panel was prejudiced against the Raiders. That juror, Joseph Abiog, maintained he had no bias, saying he only had joked that "I hate the Raiders" because he once lost a bet on the team in Las Vegas.
Financial predators are back: Just because the subprime creeps are out of the picture doesn't mean that others won't take their place. The schemes typically involve promises to distressed homeowners of cash upfront, free monthly rent and a chance to retain their houses. Right. What happens is someone else takes over the deed, borrows against the value of the house and pockets the cash. And the homeowners still end up losing their homes. From the NYT:
Victims are becoming more plentiful as homeowners fall behind on payments and find that they cannot refinance, with mortgage rates rising. The Mortgage Bankers Association recently disclosed that nearly 19 percent of all loans to less-creditworthy consumers, or 1.1 million mortgages, were either delinquent by more than 30 days or in foreclosure. At the end of 2006, the figure among these loans was 17.9 percent. When a property enters foreclosure, it appears on a list at the county clerk’s office. Individuals and companies in equity-stripping schemes monitor the lists closely, contacting troubled homeowners either by phone, by mail or by knocking on their doors. These companies advertise heavily in target areas. “Are you losing sleep because of mounting debt and harassing bill collectors?” asked one flier from a “foreclosure specialist,” Equitable Real Estate Solutions.
Yucky airplane story: As the NYT's business travel columnist, Joe Sharkey hears all kinds of horror stories about sitting on poorly maintained airplanes. But as the temperatures keep rising (air as well as mood), here's one that might have you taking the car. It involves restrooms and if you're traveling over the holiday, be advised.
In recent days, I’ve been hearing from passengers who were on a Continental Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Newark a few weeks ago when the lavatories spewed sewage into the aisle. The plane diverted to Ireland to get the toilets fixed, and took off again the next day. Once over the Atlantic, the toilets overflowed again, and flight attendants put on surgical masks and frantically laid down blankets and mats to try to mop up the sewage. It didn’t work. “My son and I were seated in the second row behind the lavs” after the flight left Shannon Airport, Lauri Grossman of New York wrote me. “Immediately upon ascending, when the plane was at an upward angle, the sewage began to flow from the toilets and down the aisle. I was wearing sandals and the carpeting was becoming increasingly wet.”
Catherine L. Carlozzi, a speechwriter from New Jersey, was also on the flight. At the terminal, she said, “They kept saying use the lavs in the airport because there are only four marginally working ones on the aircraft and we don’t know how long they’ll last.” She went on: “They said, you may have to hold it. Control your intake so you can control your output.” Once in the air, “I looked to see if the lavs would overflow again, and sure enough they did,” she added. “They were telling us how many sheets of toilet paper we could use, and what we were allowed to do in which lav,” Ms. Carlozzi said. Continental later apologized and gave passengers $500 flight vouchers that can be used, based on availability, for future flights.
"Golden Mile" condo sold: The buyer is NY developer Elad Group, which is restoring the Plaza Hotel (more condos than hotel). The 24-story L.A. property, called the Carlyle, is at 10776 Wilshire Blvd., near Westwood - and it may be the last high-rise permitted on the Wilshire corridor. Purchase price is $140 million. This is Elad's first investment in California. (LAT)
Shakeup at tech company: International Rectifier Corp. fired its CFO and an executive VP has resigned. The moves come two months after announcing an internal investigation into accounting irregularities. Questions center on whether the El Segundo-based company's foreign subsidiaries possibly inflated revenue by shipping products and recording sales that were "unsubstantiated." No explanations were offered on the firing and resignation. Daily Breeze
Tribune vote set: Not that there's much doubt about the outcome, but Aug. 21 is the date shareholders will vote on the deal to take the Chicago-based newspaper and TV company private. (Variety)
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with KPCC's Steve Julian covers the use of mass transit in L.A., the sale of the Sunset Gower studio, and a proposal that would require attorneys to disclose whether they have malpractice insurance.