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16 posts from March 2014


Energy Future Holdings postpones interest payment, earnings release

Energy Future Holdings, the Dallas-based power company seeking to reorganize its troubled finances, on Monday said it would delay filing its 2013 financial results and postpone an interest payment while it negotiates with creditors. EFH, staggering under nearly $40 billion in debt, is expected to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in the near future. For the past year it has been in talks with lenders trying to reach a consensus on its reorganization, which would speed a bankruptcy proceeding.

Texas Competitive Electric Holdings Co., which includes EFH’s deregulated subsidiaries  Luminant and TXU Energy, said that “given the constructive nature of these ongoing discussions,” it “has elected not to make certain interest payments due April 1, 2014, and to use the permitted grace periods” allowed it.

-- Jim Fuquay

Area foreclosure and mortgage deliquency rates dropping, says CoreLogic

The number of mortgage holders in the six-county Fort Worth-Arlington region at least 90 days delinquent on their loans dropped again in January, according to CoreLogic real estate data firm.

In January, the latest month available, 4.15 percent of the mortgages were late, compared to 4.59 percent a year ago, CoreLogic said.

The foreclosure rate in the area was 0.9 percent, compared to 1.25 percent in January 2013. The foreclosure rate represents the rate of foreclosures among outstanding mortgages.

The national delinquency rate in January was 4.93 percent, down from 6.36 percent a year ago.

The national foreclosure rate in January was 1.97 percent, compared to 2.9 percent a year ago.

The area numbers include data from Tarrant, Wise, Parker, Johnson, Hood and Somervell counties.

_ Sandra Baker


GameStop teams with IBM, Texas A&M to develop new retail technologies

GameStop is hooking up with IBM and the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M to develop new technologies to connect with customers.

The GameStop Technology Institute, to be led by GameStop’s Jeff Donaldson, "will focus on enhancing consumer interaction technologies and developing business solutions that help drive traffic to all retail channels."

“As GameStop continues to transform its business beyond video gaming and into the technology space, we formed GTI to address our growing need for new innovation as a specialty retailer,” said Donaldson. “As we begin our partnership with IBM and Texas A&M University, GTI’s initial focus will be on the digitization of the physical retail space which would allow customers to interact with the brick-n-mortar store environment in ways that mimic interaction with digital platforms.”

GameStop said it will use IBM’s open cloud development platform, BlueMix, to develop new applications to integrate create "a hybrid cloud environment" for both in-store and online interactions.

“This cloud partnership will integrate existing systems into a new class of applications to build even deeper relationships for GameStop with their clients and will help GameStop lead the next phase of retailing by restoring the balance between physical and digital commerce platforms,” said Steve Robinson, General Manager of IBM Cloud Platform Services.

-- Steve Kaskovich


Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington holding show auditions Saturday

Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington is hosting entertainment auditions for the 2014 season beginning at noon Saturday. 

The park’s entertainment department is looking for a wide range of talent from singers to dancers and country guitarists. 

This season’s performers will appear in one of three summer shows: Chart Toppers 5.3, Looney Tunes We Got the Beat, and Country Young Gunz. 

The summer shows line-up kicks off June 7. 

Those auditioning must be at least 16 years of age and should go online to pre-register at www.sixflagsjobs.com

_ Sandra Baker

Texas Capital Bank moving its downtown Fort Worth branch to One City Place

Dallas-based Texas Capital Bank this summer will move its downtown Fort Worth operations a couple blocks to the north, to One City Place at 300 Throckmorton St., becoming the first tenant in the recently renovated office building.

The bank has signed a 10-year lease for 20,000 square feet of office space, which includes a banking center on the first floor and commercial offices on the second floor. The 19-story building is part of the former Tandy Center and was last used by RadioShack for its headquarters. RadioShack sold the property in 2005.

The bank’s downtown operation has 30 employees and is currently located in The Tower, at 570 Throckmorton St. 

“One City Place is the perfect location for the Best Business Bank in Texas and we are looking forward to a bright future there alongside our clients and employees” said Jeff Moten, Texas Capital Bank’s Fort Worth regional president in a statement.

In February, PCCP, a real estate finance and investment management firm, said it was loaning $41.5 million to Spire Realty for tenant finish-out work in the 313,953-square-foot building.

Spire Realty bought the property in 2011, part of the 1.2 million-square-foot, three building City Place development. 

Terry Quinn, Eddie Tillman and Parker Handlin with Avison Young represented Texas Capital Bank. Matt Carthey and Geoff Shelton with Holt Lunsford Commercial represented the landlord, Spire Realty Group in Dallas.

_ Sandra Baker


Fort Worth's Renfro Foods named finalist for U.S. Chamber award

Fort Worth-based Renfro Foods, Inc. Wednesday was named one of seven regional finalists for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award.

The salsa maker represents the Southwest and South Central region. The selection is made on exceptional business practices and community involvement.

“These businesses are examples of the powerful contributions small businesses can make not only in their communities and their states, but also more broadly to the country’s economic recovery,” U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said in a statement. “The Chamber is happy to honor these regional finalists for the policies and achievements that have made them leaders among small businesses and a driver of job creation, economic growth, and opportunity.”

The winner will be named at the 10th Annual America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C. June 11-13. The winner receives a $10,000 cash prize.

The finalists include American Custom Exteriors & Interiors in Rochester, N.Y.; Quality Float Works in Schaumburg, Ill.; Xylo Technologies in Rochester, Minn.; Sanderson Stewart in Billings, Mont.; Modernizing Medicine in Boca Raton, Fla.,; and, Cuisine Unlimited Catering & Special Events in Salt Lake City.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses.

_ Sandra Baker


BNSF planning to add 5,000 workers in 2014 as railroad expands

Fort Worth-based BNSF Railway plans to hire 5,000 workers this year as part of a $5 billion investment in the railroad, Carl Ice, the company's new president and CEO, said this morning during an interview on CNBC.

Ice, who recently took over the CEO post from Matt Rose, said the new jobs will be spread across the railroad's many functions but that the biggest number will be in train crews to serve its growing business. The company is also adding 500 locomotives and recently announced plans to purchase 5,000 next-generation tank cars to haul crude oil from fields such as the Bakken Shale.

Ice said the U.S. economy is showing broad-based growth and that BNSF wouldn't argue with economists who estimate that GDP is growing at a rate of 2.5% a year or more. He said there was a surge in commodity shipments in the fourth quarter, such as grain, oil and coal, but that severe winter weather slowed down momentum in the early part of 2014.

Rose is now executive chairman of BNSF, which is owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. The company has more than 41,000 employees.

-- Steve Kaskovich




Livability.com names downtown Fort Worth No. 1 for 2014

Downtown Fort Worth tops Livability.com’s best downtowns for 2014.

Livability.com likes the horses, wagon and longhorn steers paraded through downtown, but it also cited downtown’s residential and commercial growth in its selection for the No. 1 spot.

“Few downtowns have achieved the cohesion between cowboy culture and urban sophistication that Fort Worth has,” the online resource said. “City and community leaders support a number of rehabilitation and improvement projects that help bring in more businesses, create a more walkable environment and ease traffic congestion.” 

The website noted a 2.6 percent drop in retail vacancy from 2012 to 2013 in downtown, a 3.3 percent average income growth, and 6.6 percent unemployment.

Livability.com said the Top 10 downtowns list is based on such things as retail and office vacancy rates, population gains, income growth and the ratio of people who live and work in the downtown, but also what people are saying about the area.

Following Fort Worth is, Providence as No. 2; Indianapolis; Provo; Alexandria, Va.; Frederick, Maryland; Fort Lauderdale; Bellingham, Wash.; Eugene, Oregon; and, Birmingham Ala., in the tenth spot.

_ Sandra Baker


TPG lending unit files to go public

TPG Specialty Lending, which says it provides financing to mid-size companies, said in a regulatory filing that it intends to go public next week. The company was formed in July 2010 and is part of TPG Capital, the big private equity firm founded by former Robert M. Bass advisors that include David Bonderman and James Coulter.  TPG  Specialty Lending says it has co-chief executive officers: Michael Fishman and Joshua Easterly, and lists its headquarters in Fort Worth. In its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, TPG Specialty Lending said it expects to issue 7 million shares at between $16 and $17 a share, or up to $136.9 million before expenses.

According the company's filing, it had just over $1 billion in outstanding investments at year's end to what it describes as highly leveraged companies. It reported $90.4 million in interest income on those investments in 27 portfolio companies, and said its average yield on those investments as of Dec. 31 was 10.4 percent at fair market value. It also holds some equity securities in eligible portfolio companies.

TPG Specialty Lending does business as a Business Development Co., which can be either publicly held or private, but in any event is regulated by the SEC. They distribute most of their earnings as dividends to shareholders. According to its SEC filing, TPG Specialty Lending last year declared a stock dividend of $1.56 a share.

-- Jim Fuquay



Study: Texas gained 6,368 jobs in 2013 from clean energy and transportation

Texas projects involved in clean energy production and energy-efficient transportation projects added 6,368 positions last year, according to a new report by Environmental Entrepreneurs. The state ranked No. 2, behind California's 15,397 jobs. One example cited among the eight projects in Texas was the 80-turbine, 165-megawatt Cameron Wind farm in South Texas announced by Apex Clean Energy, which could create more than 200 jobs.

The study looked at jobs in power generation and manufacturing, building efficiency, public transportation and other sectors. It counted more than 78,600 jobs nationally at newly announced projects, projects under construction or job additions at existing projects. The report said 32,500 jobs were power-related, with solar power was the biggest in that sector with more than 21,600 jobs.

Texas was No. 1 nationally in new jobs in the fourth quarter, the report said, with about 3,286 jobs, including 1,400 in five different wind power projects. Texas is No. 1 in wind power capacity, with more than 11,000 megawatts.

It's the second year for the study, which listed more than 100,000 jobs in 2012. The decline could be related to a change in methodology, the group said. Environmental Entrepreneurs describes itself as a national group of business leaders who promote sound environmental policy and economic prosperity. Its web site is here.

-- Jim Fuquay



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