Bailout props up troubled lender

first_imgCountrywide’s chairman and CEO Angelo R. Mozilo said in a statement Wednesday that the Bank of America investment would help position the company for future growth. He told CNBC on Thursday that Countrywide’s balance sheet needs to be stronger, but added, “There is no more chance for bankruptcy today for Countrywide than there was six months ago, a year ago, two years ago, and when the stock was $45 a share.” The executive also said that he believes the housing slump, marked by increasing delinquencies and foreclosures, will trigger a national recession. “I know I’ve been proven wrong so far,” Mozilo said. “Equity’s disappeared – I mean, equity’s gone.” In a regulatory filing, Countrywide said Bank of America has the right to match any offer for the company if Countrywide receives an offer from any third party. Mozilo, however, dismissed talk that the deal could be a prelude to an eventual sale of Countrywide to the banking giant. Meanwhile, Calabasas-based Countrywide came under fire from angry borrowers at a Washington, D.C., news conference organized by the Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, a nonprofit community advocacy group that offers below-rate mortgages and refinancing. The group was planning to meet with officials at the Office of Thrift Supervision later in the day to ask that the agency force Countrywide to restructure its existing loans. Twelve people from around the country who said they were Countrywide customers recalled getting sweet-talked and misled by Countrywide agents only to face jacked-up rates and foreclosure threats after falling behind on payments. One borrower, Cynthia Bryant of Pomona, said Countrywide threatened her with foreclosure. “I read in the paper today where they received billions to bail them out. But what has Countrywide done” to bail out their borrowers? Bryant asked. A call to Countrywide seeking comment was not immediately returned. Countrywide said last week it had borrowed $11.5 billion from several dozen banks so it could keep making home loans. Its bottom line had suffered as defaults increased on subprime mortgages to borrowers with shaky credit histories, and the problems stretched to other credit markets, Countrywide’s shares plunged, hitting a 52-week low of $15 on Aug. 16. As part of the deal, Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America acquired $2 billion in the form of nonvoting, convertible preferred stock yielding 7.25 percent annually. The shares can be converted into common shares of Countrywide at $18 a share, with certain restrictions. The deal, however, restricts Bank of America from trading any shares converted from preferred stock for a period of 18months and from acquiring beneficial ownership of more voting shares in the company. If Bank of America were to convert its stock under Countrywide’s current share count, it would hold up to 17 percent of Countrywide shares. That would make Bank of America the company’s largest shareholder. AllianceBernstein LP owns the most Countrywide shares – about 63.7 million, or 11percent of the company, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! COUNTRYWIDE: Bank of America’s $2 billion comes as the mortgage giant faces a downturn. By Alex Veiga THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The infusion of $2 billion from Bank of America Corp. should help shore up sagging Countrywide Financial Corp. as it tries to outlast the credit crunch squeezing Wall Street and the mortgage industry, analysts said Thursday. The deal, disclosed late Wednesday, gives the nation’s largest mortgage lender breathing room as it tries to navigate the U.S. housing downturn. “We believe this investment in Countrywide will spark a rally in the residential mortgage finance sector,” Stephen Laws, a Deutsche Bank analyst wrote in a research note. Still, analyst Paul Miller Jr. with Friedman, Billings, Ramsey noted that “Countrywide is not completely out of the woods.” Despite the boost in capital, Countrywide is likely to have a tough time staying profitable given the overall bleak housing forecast, as home values fall and adjustable mortgages reset and raise the specter of more defaults, said Chris Brendler, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus & Co. Inc. The deal helped boost shares of Countrywide, which climbed as high as $24.46 on Thursday. The stock gained 20 cents to close at $22.02. Bank of America shares rose 18 cents to $51.83. last_img read more

BUSINESS: EVOLVE MENSWEAR LAUNCH NEW STORE IN DERRY

first_imgBUSINESS: Donegal entrepreneurs, JP and Mark McCloskey, who are well-known brothers from Letterkenny, opened the doors of their second men’s fashion store this week on Foyle Street in Derry, bringing a new and exciting facelift to men’s fashion in Derry.JP and Mark have seen their dreams realised with the opening of their flagship store in 2008, located in Letterkenny’s busy retail park. Both stores house top brands such as Farah Vintage, Fred Perry, Toms, Lyle & Scott, Selected, Jack & Jones, Lloyd & Pryce footwear, Goodwin Smith, Vans and many more.With seven years under their belt in Letterkenny working with customers to ensure they are getting the best in service, fashion, quality and price, the time was right for a new challenge to expand.JP told Donegal Daily, “It was an opportunity which presented itself once again for us, and after weighing up the pro’s and con’s, we decided to go for it.“We are very fortunate to have strong customer base from Northern Ireland and we hope we can build on these relationships with the opening of our new Derry store.” Delivering the absolute best in customer service is really important to JP & Mark and knowing that their team in Letterkenny and Derry can deliver this is what sets Evolve apart from competitors.Mark McCloskey added, “Derry is a great city, we have always enjoyed coming here, there is just something about it that’s special and we are looking forward to getting to know more of our customers from Derry and all around Northern Ireland.”“You can be assured of top quality service with that all important personal touch when you shop at Evolve Menswear.Evolve Menswear Derry is open SIX days a week with opening hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 9am-6pm; Thursday and Friday 9am-7pm; Saturday 9am-6pm.BUSINESS: EVOLVE MENSWEAR LAUNCH NEW STORE IN DERRY was last modified: October 16th, 2015 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:BusinessFeaturesnewslast_img read more

Amazing signings, trophy in the bag and manager shocker: Man United in 2016

first_imgManchester United may have played some boring football this year, but that’s not to say the last 12 months weren’t without entertainment.In fact, fans have seen their club win the FA Cup, sign Galacticos, find a new local hero and much more.And these moments have all been caught on camera, to look back on and enjoy for years and years to come – or right now.Scroll through the gallery above to see the best pictures from Manchester United’s 2016… Louis van Gaal shows his funny side by throwing himself to the ground during Manchester United’s 3-2 win over Arsenal, reacting to the theatrics of Alexis Sanchez 5 5 That same 3-2 win over Arsenal also saw Marcus Rashford make his mark on the Premier League. Having scored twice against FC Midtjylland a few days earlier, the wonderkid set the world alight by downing the Gunners in his first league appearance 5 Manchester United become the new Galacticos, with the summer arrivals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba. A sight every Red Devils supporter is still struggling to believe as true Academy graduate Jesse Lingard wins Manchester United the FA Cup with an incredible volley against Crystal Palace – click the arrow above, right, to see the best pictures of the Red Devils’ 2016 5 5 Does this picture really need explaining? Just look at it and enjoy the best Manchester United moment of 2016last_img read more

Government still leans toward secrecy

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los AngelesThe government stamped 14.2 million pages “top secret,” “secret” or “confidential” at a cost of $7.7 billion, compared with a record 15.6 million in 2004. “Every administration wants to control information about its policies and practices, but the current administration has restricted access to information about our government and its policies at unprecedented levels,” said Patrice McDermott, director of OpenTheGovernment.org. WASHINGTON – Federal officials unsealed more classified documents in 2005 but shrouded data elsewhere by claiming more legal privileges in court, a coalition of watchdog groups reported Saturday. The study by OpenTheGovernment.org shows modest improvement from record 2004 levels in which Americans were kept in the dark about information they should be able to access. Overall government secrecy remained high, it said. Federal agencies spent $134 creating and storing new secrets for each $1 spent to declassify old secrets. That’s down from the record $148 in 2004, but up from the $17-to-$1 ratio spent in 2000. Overall, the number of pages declassified in 2005 was 29.5 million, up 1.1 million from the previous year, to post the first increase in five years. Still, the figure was significantly lower than the 75 million unsealed in 2000, the year before the Sept. 11 terror attacks. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Juventus duo set for new deals to end Chelsea transfer speculation

first_imgChelsea are set to receive a double transfer blow with Juventus defensive duo Alex Sandro and Giorgio Chiellini on the verge of signing new contracts.The Blues were heavily linked with both stars during the summer as they attempted to reinforce their backline.Sandro, the flying full-back, was pursued throughout the summer by Chelsea but Juve managed to keep hold of him.Meanwhile Antonio Conte is also a big fan of his compatriot Chiellini, the centre-back he managed for both Juve and Italy, who is inside the final year of his current deal.But according to the Corriere dello Sport, both of them are now close to committing their futures to the Turin club.As talkSPORT told you earlier this month, Juve have been negotiating a two-year extension for Sandro and the terms now seem to be agreed.While Chiellini, who is out contract in the summer when he would be able to leave on a free, looks set to pen a contract until 2020, which would take him up to the age of 36. Alex Sandro and Giorgio Chiellini are on the verge of signing new contracts 1last_img read more

Hearts secure European spot after 0-0 draw against Inverness CT

first_imgCaley Thistle named an unchanged side from the one that beat Dundee United 2-0 on Saturday.Hearts, meanwhile, made three changes from the team that lost 2-1 to Aberdeen four days ago. Prince Buaben, Sam Nicholson and Igor Rossi came out for Dario Zanatta, Miguel Pallardo and Juwon Oshaniwa.Neither side had much to play for in the Highlands, with Inverness effectively clear of relegation trouble and Hearts facing an uphill struggle to catch second-placed Aberdeen.A turgid opening spell of the game reflected the lack of meaning to the game, with the only real talking point being Ross Draper’s heavy challenge that left Pallardo limping. Referee Don Robertson was probably the busiest man of the first half, carding three players in a five-minute spell. Jamie Walker was booked for diving after claiming Carl Tremarco brought him down, while shortly after both Iain Vigurs and Arnaud Djoum saw yellow for clashing in the middle of the park.The first chance of a tepid opening period came from an unlikely source, as Josh Meekings was granted the freedom of the Caledonian Stadium to stride forward. He took aim from 30 yards and it looked like it was fizzing towards goal, until Neil Alexander got a fingertip on it.Callum Paterson responded with an effort of his own just before the break that Owain Fon Williams parried but the sides went in at the break level.Hearts started the second half with more intensity and Zanatta came inches away from getting a touch on Juanma’s cross, which rolled across the face of Fon Williams’ goal.But it did not last through the remainder of the game as neither side looked capable of scoring.Substitute Abiola Dauda blasted one into the stands with 20 minutes to go and after being teed up well by Djoum, saw a one-on-one chance blocked by Fon Williams, but neither side was capable of producing enough quality to claim the three points. Hearts and Inverness played out a dire goalless draw that was enough to book the Jambos’ place in next season’s Europa League.The point put Robbie Neilson’s side 16 clear of fourth-placed Motherwell, crowning an impressive first season back in the top flight.Of the brief chances either side had, Hearts had the better of them but neither side displayed any real urgency, or forced too many saves.For Inverness, the draw brings them a point closer to Dundee and Partick Thistle above them but is not enough to shift them out of ninth place.last_img read more

Canning sympathises with rookie referee after dramatic end

first_imgCanning said: “I don’t think it was his (the referee’s) best game, and I don’t like to criticise referees. “It is a difficult job and they get one time to see things and it is a hard, hard job they have to go and do. They will have bad days, just like managers will make decisions where we can be right and we can be wrong. “You can see with that confrontation at the end how much this match meant to both teams. They both understood the importance of the game.“It looks like handbags and it’s one of these things in football when two players square up it seems to be everybody else from both teams wants to get involved and protect their own player. Hamilton Accies manager Martin Canning felt sympathy for rookie referee Gavin Duncan after ugly scenes marred the thrilling 3-2 home win over Ross County. A dramatic final six minutes at New Douglas Park saw three goals and two red cards, and referee Duncan – in his first Scottish Premiership match – was joined by the linesmen and stewards on the pitch as they looked to pull players apart. Players from both teams charged over after a tussle between County’s Kenny van der Weg and Accies’ Ioannis Skondras with several trading blows. Skondras was shown a straight red card minutes after County’s Michael Gardyne walked for a second bookable offence. “And that is part of the game. It should not be part of the game, but it is. “Throughout the course of the game the guy (Van der Weg) was giving him (Skondras) a bit of stick and they were giving it back and forward. “Obviously at the end of the game they came together and I think Van der Weg comes from nowhere… and just pushes Skondras out the road and he has taken exception to it. “Then everyone gets involved in it, and it just becomes a mess. “I think he (Van der Weg) was lucky to stay on the pitch. I don’t know why he gets involved. “Ioannis and the other player were just going to part ways… and Ioannis was the one who got sent off. He comes across as a competitive and combative wee guy, but he is actually a lovely wee guy when you get to know him.”last_img read more

When It Comes to Employee Theft, Opportunity Makes a Thief

first_imgThe problem of employee theft is well-documented, with recent figures suggesting that the majority of workers have stolen from their employers. Retail theft is a particularly acute challenge, given the ready access to cash and stock. The financial impact of employee theft on retail businesses is considerable, with some surveys estimating that employees account for between 30 and 45 percent of retail crime losses, far in excess of those resulting from external shoplifting. Against this background, what steps should retail employers take to protect themselves from employee dishonesty, and what are the constraints?Pre-Employment ScreeningOnly a minority of employee thieves face any adverse consequences, including dismissal or a criminal investigation arising from their theft. This is because many retailers simply do not have the resources to identify the culprit and, in practice, it is often difficult to catch them in action; theft being typically identified through cash losses, sale irregularities, stock inventories and other means.Given that detecting and identifying employee theft can be challenging for businesses, a sensible strategy is to put measures in place to avoid hiring dishonest employees in the first place. This involves instituting a pre-employment screening programme, or reviewing the effectiveness of existing screening processes.- Sponsor – Pre-employment screening practices may include:Verifying personal background information provided by a candidate looking for employment, such as his/her education and qualifications;Checking the candidate’s references with previous employers; andUndertaking identification, criminal, and credit-history checks.Screening and the LawLegal constraints limit the scope of pre-employment screening permitted in European Union (E.U.) countries. This reflects, in large part, the E.U. Data Protection Directive that in this context aims to strike a balance between the employer’s needs and the candidate’s right to carry respect for his or her private life. Cultural expectations around privacy also play a part in shaping employer requests for background checks in different E.U. countries.In most E.U. countries, background checks are only permitted if they are relevant and proportionate to the role, and the candidate’s consent is required in order for the checks to be carried out. An employer can generally refuse to hire a candidate based on the findings of the background check, although the candidate may request access to the information collected that led to this decision. Many E.U. countries strictly enforce the rules limiting background checks, and businesses are advised to take them seriously as breaching them can lead to financial and other penalties.Across the E.U. there are varying rules about criminal record checks, with most countries applying strict controls. For example, this might include only permitting the disclosure of unspent convictions.Screening in Practice across EuropeWhile this summarises the position in relation to pre-employment screening in the E.U., there are some nuances across countries. For example, in general terms:It is not common for employers to carry out credit and criminal records checks in Ireland due to practical difficulties in obtaining the information, although candidates can be required to declare any relevant criminal convictions.Checks concerning identity and criminal history are quite common in Italy. However, criminal record checks can only reveal unspent convictions and must be requested specifically by the candidate; and then only if the potential job involves a high degree of trust. Consultation with the works councils is necessary when introducing a policy on pre-employment screening.Credit history checks are not allowed in the Czech Republic. That apart, background checks are quite common.In Finland, if the employer has at least thirty employees, it must negotiate general principles and practices for collecting information from candidates and employees during and after recruitment with its employees and/or employee representatives.In Germany, works council consultation may be triggered where the employer only hires candidates successfully passing pre-employment screening. It is not common to ask former employers for references, as employers are under an obligation to provide departing employees with a written reference on termination. Candidates will therefore normally provide the employer with copies of all written references when applying for a job.In France and Poland, restrictions operate to limit most credit and criminal history checks, with some exceptions for criminal checks. For example, this may apply in relation to some security or financial-sector positions.When introducing pre-employment screening in E.U. countries, employers should explain to candidates as early as is reasonably practicable in the recruitment process, the nature of the verification process and the methods used to carry it out. They should only request information that can be justified in terms of the role offered, and prior consent should be obtained. Local laws may impose additional legal constraints.Monitoring EmployeesMonitoring employees, such as using CCTV to deter dishonesty or collect evidence in the event of suspected thefts, is a common occurrence in retail businesses. Again, E.U. data-protection laws require the employer to balance its needs with an employee’s right to privacy when installing and operating workplace monitoring.Typically, across the E.U. there are legal constraints that require the employer to inform employees, in as much detail as possible, about the manner in which they will be monitored and to only conduct monitoring that is relevant, justified, and proportionate. Consent is usually also necessary.Covert monitoring is strictly controlled. For example, in the U.K. it should only be carried out as a last resort, be time limited, sanctioned by senior management, and be required by law or instituted to prevent or detect criminal activity or malpractice. These conditions are difficult to satisfy in practice, and mean such monitoring can only be justified where other means of detection have failed and in sufficiently serious circumstances.Lawfully Terminating EmploymentThere will be occasions where an employee is caught stealing, or the employer is satisfied that he or she is responsible for a theft and wishes to terminate the employment. The law and practice regulating the termination of contracts for misconduct differs across the E.U. This reflects the absence of any harmonising E.U. law around dismissal on grounds related to the individual, as opposed to, for example, on economic grounds such as redundancies. This means that it is left to each country to decide how to regulate individual employee theft dismissals.Despite this, there are some general themes that emerge from the regulation of employee terminations on the grounds of misconduct across Europe:A serious incident of employee theft is likely to amount to gross misconduct, which may entitle the employer to terminate employment without lengthy notice.An employer should follow a fair procedure before the termination. While the detail of the procedure varies across E.U. countries, it will usually include informing all workers during their employment of the consequences of committing employee theft, for example, in a readily available disciplinary code; conducting a thorough and independent fact-finding investigation in response to specific allegations of employee dishonesty; providing a written statement of the theft allegations to the employee before meeting with him or her; allowing the employee to put forward a defence; and ensuring that the process is not subject to undue delay.Most countries require the notice of termination to be put in writing.In some E.U. countries, there are set time periods within which the employer must act following the discovery of the employee theft, as in the following examples:In the Czech Republic a period of two months applies.In Germany, it is two weeks.In others, the trade union or works council must be informed in advance if the termination is to be valid.In Sweden, if the employee is a union member, the employer must notify the local union, which is entitled to consult with the employee before the termination takes place. If consultation is requested by the trade union, the employer cannot give notice until the consultation is concluded.Minor or petty theft, in itself, may not provide sufficient cause to justify immediate termination in some countries, and a warning may instead be appropriate or a termination with notice.Awareness and Other ProgrammesMany retail businesses, aiming to keep employee theft at a minimum, will screen potential job candidates for high-risk roles, monitor employee conduct in the workplace, and act to remove employees reasonably believed to have committed theft. In addition, as retailers increasingly operate and expand their brands’ appeal across borders, the preference is often to adopt consistent recruitment policies and rules across countries.Outside of the specific options identified above, other HR employment practices can help reduce employee theft:Embedding an organisational culture that promotes honesty and vigilance.Promoting fair reward and recognition to reduce the risk of theft arising from staff feeling underpaid and undervalued.Operating a whistle-blowing facility to allow employees to confidentially report concerns about the conduct of others.Having clear rules around transactions, such as not serving family and friends, and rules around the use of discount cards.Training employees, for example, to make them aware that theft is monitored, that there is a risk of them being detected, and the implications of breaching company procedures.As employee theft continues to challenge retailers, big and small, employing a range of these tactics can help tackle this growing problem.This article was first published in LP Magazine EU in the Autumn edition 2014 and updated in May 2016. Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more

EA Buys Chillingo, Publishers of Angry Birds (Angry Birds Not Included)

first_imgaudrey watters When news hit the wire this morning that Electronic Arts had purchased Chillingo, the publisher of the phenomenally successful Angry Birds game for an estimated $20 million, it seemed like the video game giant had made a really great acquisition for a steal. After all, the iPhone version alone of the Angry Birds game has sold over 6.5 million copies since December. Many of the reports of EA’s purchase of Chillingo were framed in terms of their gaining that Angry Birds Golden Egg (pun intended).But Rovio Mobile, the makers of Angry Birds quickly took to Twitter to correct the shock and surprise, asserting that it did not sell to EA and that it retains full control of the rights to Angry Bird. And in an interview with Techcrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis, Rovio clarified that it had only teamed with Chillingo to publish the first iPhone/iPad integration and “will not use Chillingo again.”If EA doesn’t get Angry Birds, then that $20 million seems strange for other reasons. Chillingo publishes a number of other titles from other third-party developers, including Cut the Rope. Chillingo also has a game developer platform, Crystal. As Industry Changes, Video Game Makers Turn to Social GamingAccording to an EA spokeswoman, “By acquiring Chillingo, EA Mobile is increasing its market leadership on the Apple platform as well as reaffirming its position as the world’s leading wireless entertainment publisher.” To “reaffirm its position,” EA has invested a lot of money lately in the growing social games market, buying Playfish in late 2009 for a cool $275 million. And the company clearly hopes this will position it well in this growing gaming sector – not just with the development of new social games but by utilizing their social networks to increase interest in other titles. EA of course continues to release its traditional games, including Madden NFL, The Sims, and Medal of Honor. EA did see profits of $96 million in the first quarter of this year, after posting a loss this time last year of $234 million, helped in part by an increase in social gaming revenue. 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… Related Posts Tags:#gaming#news#NYT#web center_img 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex…last_img read more