Monday, July 25, 2005
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Exclusive: FTC Wins $47 Million NorVergence Lease Judgment
In the ruling by the United States District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise, entered into the court docket late on Friday, July 22, 2005, the court found for the plaintiff, the Federal Trade Commission, issuing a default judgment for fraud against NorVergence Corporation, now in bankruptcy.
In immediate contention were $47 million dollars of “uncommitted” signed leases, with claims against the receivables, assets, not only
for the specific contracts themselves, but for leases not actually held by leasing companies but where the leasing company was making claims against these assets. These contracts are now void. Also, contracts assigned to finance companies for part of their term will be void when that term is up and they would otherwise be returned to NorVergence.
Randall “Randy” H. Brook, FTC Shinning Knight Prosecutor
Randy Brook, senior attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, obtained the judgment. Known in the industry as the “dragon slayer” of leasing companies, primarily for his $24 million win and $1 million fine against Leasecomm, told Leasing News in an exclusive interview that this would not end the FTC's interest in NorVergence matters. He would not give a time table, but indicated that the five Commissioners of the FTC were the ones to decide when to proceed with any further legal action.
He also said it left no uncertainty that the FTC Act protected all consumers, whether they were individuals, small businesses, nonprofits, or other entities that were victims of the NorVergence fraud. Brook did not deny to Leasing News that the FTC could decide to take some leasing companies to court for illegal activities.
In discussing the “forum clauses” of the “Equipment Rental Agreements,” meaning venue or place of trial, he said the FTC was quite adamant that they were in violation of the FTC Act, as stated in the judgment against NorVergence, but left open the question of whether the leasing companies would be prosecuted for enforcement of this provision.
It should be noted that every NorVergence-related settlement to date between a state attorney general and a leasing company prohibits distant forum lawsuits against consumers who don't accept the settlement terms. Brook in the exclusive interview also pointed out 23 state attorney general plus the District of Columbia now have reached settlements with the major holders of NorVergence leases. He said it was not proper that he should make any comment on states' actions.
He wanted Leasing News readers to fully understand the FTC is very active in protecting consumers, which included small businesses, who were both defrauded by NorVergence and those involved in deceptive practices and illegal interstate commerce.
Brook said a formal press release would be issued this coming week.
Copy of Jude Debevoise Default Judgment and Order for Permanent Injuction and Monetary Relief entered into the court docket on Friday, July 22,2005:
Former NorVergence chief's new venture falls just as hard
By MARTHA McKAY
A year ago Thomas N. Salzano stood at the helm of NorVergence, a multimillion-dollar telecommunications company on the brink of a spectacular flameout.
Three weeks ago, Salzano scuffled with police after he was unceremoniously booted from his Kenilworth office that housed Charity Snack, his latest venture, for non-payment of rent.
On the surface, the companies couldn't have less in common: NorVergence was a reseller of phone service with hundreds of millions of dollars of leases; Charity Snack raised money for breast cancer by putting cardboard boxes in nail salons.
But the similarities were striking.
Both companies relied on a high-powered sales force working from a script; employees described draconian work rules including docking pay for minor infractions; and when the business soured, some employees say they weren't paid what was owed to them.
And both companies fell hard: NorVergence crashed in a bankruptcy that has spawned a slew of investigations; Charity Snack lost its office and its affiliation with the charity for which it said it was raising money.
Federal investigators continue to sift through the ashes left by the NorVergence bankruptcy in July 2004. This month, the FBI interviewed a former NorVergence employee with ties to Salzano in connection with the business' spectacular demise, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation.
Last week, a U.S District Court judge ordered a $181.7 million default judgment against NorVergence in a case brought by the Federal Trade Commission.
And creditors now assert the company owes $550 million.
Of that, former employees claim $6 million in unpaid wages and health benefits. And the IRS says NorVergence went bankrupt owing $6 million in taxes. The company has cash on hand of $520,000, said Michael Holt, a lawyer for the bankruptcy trustee.
And federal agents are still scrutinizing the byzantine finances of NorVergence and its principals.
Salzano's title was chief managing officer, and he was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars as a consultant while his brother, Peter J. Salzano, served as CEO.
NorVergence's abrupt end threw 1,300 people out of work and left thousands of small-business customers without phone and Internet service.
Legal battles raged when customers who bought virtually worthless NorVergence "Matrix" boxes tried to get out of equipment leases that NorVergence had sold to more than 40 banks and leasing companies. In many cases, settlements have been reached, brokered by state attorneys general, providing some relief to deeply angry NorVergence customers.
Peter J. Salzano filed for personal bankruptcy this year and faces numerous claims and lawsuits in connection with his role in the company, including scrutiny by the FTC.
"Peter Salzano has an impeccable background and enjoys an unblemished reputation throughout the state of New Jersey and at all times while the CEO of NorVergence he acted in good faith," said Joseph A. Hayden Jr., a prominent criminal defense attorney hired by Peter Salzano. "At no time did he ever attempt to engage in any fraud or injure any customer of members of the public."
Thomas Salzano could not be reached for comment and his lawyer did not return calls for comment.
Interviews with former employees reveal that Thomas Salzano has started at least three new companies in the past year, one called Retail America Inc. and another called Certa Clean Inc.
Then came Charity Snack.
From January through June, the Kenilworth-based company collected cash for the American Breast Cancer Foundation using thousands of cardboard boxes, filled with cookies and candy. Printed on Charity Snack's cardboard box is a promise to donate 30 percent of its profits to charity.
The company's sales staff placed an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 boxes in nail salons, auto-repair shops and other walk-in businesses throughout New Jersey, according to former employees. By April, the business was growing fast, bringing in as much as $20,000 a week in cash, the employees said.
Mia Saric, who started work at Charity Snack in February, said 269 of her boxes brought in $2,963 in one two-week period.
Saric said her pay was docked $25 if she was five minutes late to a morning meeting. Former NorVergence employees have described a boiler-room-like atmosphere with draconian work rules including being docked for pay if they were late.
History of failures
She described Salzano and his son, Dustin, who worked at the business, as wildly enthusiastic about Charity Snack's prospects. Salzano talked about "going national," she said.
Saric described her boss as a high-energy workaholic who drank caffeine-rich Red Bull, drove a black BMW and urged employees to listen to the recordings of motivational guru Anthony Robbins.
Saric said she quit after she began to question some of Salzano's business practices and uncovered his connections to several bankruptcies. Prior to NorVorgence, Salzano started several businesses that failed.
Charity Snack's income apparently wasn't enough to cover its rent on an office suite in a commercial condominium at 4 Mark Road in Kenilworth, according to Kenilworth police, who gave the following account:
On June 30, the landlord locked Salzano out of his office for non-payment of rent. Police showed up and Salzano said he would speak to his lawyer about the situation.
A short time later, Salzano returned and smashed through the plate glass door of the office using a hammer. A witness told police that Salzano left shortly after breaking the door with "something hidden under his shirt."
Non-profit cuts ties
About four hours later, police returned to find Salzano sitting behind his desk. He was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor to which he later pleaded not guilty, according to the Kenilworth police.
The American Breast Cancer Foundation, which is a registered non-profit based in Baltimore, has cut ties with Charity Snack but won't say how much money it received from Salzano's business.
"They [Charity Snack] are no longer authorized to raise funds on our behalf," said the foundation's director, Phyllis Wolf, who would not elaborate.
Whether Charity Snack is still in business is anyone's guess.
On a recent afternoon, the Kenilworth office that housed Charity Snack was locked and the front door repaired. Dozens of the company's empty cardboard collection boxes were piled next to a Dumpster nearby.
Three Elmwood Park businesses - an auto-glass shop, a nail salon and a travel agency - said last week that a man from Charity Snack had showed up recently to collect the boxes they'd agreed to display. They were filled with money.
One was told by the Charity Snack representative that the company was "moving." The other two were told that Charity Snack was going on vacation for the summer.
Exclusive: Jim Lahti Follows His Heart
“I love the broker business and want to stay in it, so I am starting a company on my own,” well-known Jim Lahti, CLP, told Leasing News in an exclusive interview.
The ex-president of Certified Leasing Professional Foundation, and the United Association of Equipment Leasing, also active in other associations, such as the National Association of Leasing Brokers, will remain at the same building he is presently located, but in a different suite, taking the parent name of the company:
Affiliated Investment Group, Inc.
401 East Corporate Drive, Suite 250-A
Lewisville, TX 75057
972-221-7335, Fax 972-221-7336
”I have enjoyed working closely with Rick Galtelli, but he is going to work for Heritage Pacific Leasing, “ Lahti said. “ I am going to be on my own, proudly serving brokers as I have done for the last twenty years as Affiliated Corporate Services.
“This is not negative news, Kit, but positive. Rick and I both still break bread together and pray together, but I am basically too old to work for someone else.”
“ The other good news is I am bringing Ron Mitchell with me and also Jane Kilpatrick, too, ” he concluded. “A formal press release will be issued this week.”
Rick Galtelli, CLP, was on an airplane, flying from Texas to Fresno, California, at press time, and unavailable for a comment.
Richard A. Galtelli CLP
BSB Leasing, Inc. Broker Services division adds
(Denver, Colorado) BSB Leasing, Inc., is pleased to announce the promotions of Matt Dalton and Bill Wilson. Both Matt and Bill have added the title of Senior Account Manager to their increasing responsibilities in helping BSB Leasing, Inc. grow its broker/indirect business.
Industry veterans Dalton and Wilson both joined BSB Leasing, Inc. in December, 2004 as Regional Sales Managers. Prior to joining BSB Leasing, Inc. Matt Dalton served as President and Bill Wilson served as an Account Manager of LeaseLine, Inc. a small ticket leasing company in Englewood, Colorado.
“Both Matt and Bill have demonstrated the abilities necessary to help BSB Leasing, Inc. continue to introduce its internal funding program BSB Direct Finance, LLC to brokers and lessors nationwide” states Skip Wehner, Vice-President of BSB Leasing, Inc.
BSB Leasing, Inc., headquartered in Denver, Colorado is a full-service funding resource specializing in Direct Finance and Syndication Services for small ticket and commercial size commercial capital equipment leases nationwide.
For additional information contact:
Skip Wehner at 303-329-0227 ext. 334
Super Brokers' List
A -Requires Broker be Licensed | B -Sub-Broker Program | C -Warehouse Line | D -Also a Lessor
(A) BSB Leasing, Inc has been providing syndication services for brokers nationwide since 1982 and have been funding business directly since 2002 through BSB Direct Finance, LLC. We offer Brokers a complete internet solution for credit submission and tracking and document preparation.
These companies basically function as a "broker," meaning most of their transactions are sent to other leasing companies or funders.They are not “lessors” or “funders.” An additional description: the majority of their business comes from others, who are acting as a broker. These “deals” may come from an independent, a “company,” or even a “lessor” or “funder.”
Brokers come to them because they may not have the "volume" for the source the "super broker" may have; they may be "too new" in business to qualify for many sources: they may be looking for a better rate than their regular sources, or the transaction was originated by another broker and they need to acknowledge that the transaction comes from another broker, called "sub broker," in the trade (most funders will not accept business from that has been “re-brokered.” .” As important, the sender may not have a regular source for the specific transaction they want to place, such as a young privately held company wanted the lease as “corporate only.”
The transactions may come from a lessor that wants to satisfy their client, and they have a "minimum" that the transaction does not meet; or perhaps their client is to the maximum amount of exposure for them.
For whatever reason, they come to a "super broker" to place the deal on their behalf.
In the question of sub-broker business, we take for granted that the “super broker” not only has a written agreement with the sub-broker but informs the lessor when submitting an application it has come from a sub-broker. A violation of this will have the company removed from the list.
This list is not does not include leasing companies who "fund" the majority of the transactions they receive.
In addition to the above qualifications, the "Super Broker" must have a "clean" Better Business Bureau rating, no Leasing News Bulletin Board complaints or a poor record, and must belong to a national leasing association, as we view this that they are professional and abide by their association standards and code of ethics.
We also will be verifying warehouse lines or "lessor" lines with their bankers (as done with those on the Story Credit List.)
Leasing News reserves the right not to list any company it believes does not meet the qualifications as stated above.
Fred MacDonald, Jr. Joins Unicyn Finance as
Closter, New Jersey, Unicyn Financial, a fast growing originator of health care and commercial leases and loans, announces the addition of Fred MacDonald to its executive management team. As Senior Vice President of Credit and Operations, Fred will be responsible for all transaction processing and management of operations personnel.
Fred has more than 25 years experience in the equipment leasing industry, having held management positions with Fleet Credit Corporation, Xerox Credit Corporation, Manufactures Hanover Leasing Corporation, and C.I.T. Leasing Corporation.
Most recently, Fred was President of Unicyn Funding Group, Inc., a national funding source for equipment lease brokers and lessors. Fred brings a wealth of operations management experience to meet the growing demands of Unicyn Financial Companies major expansion.
Patrick McGahren, President of Unicyn Financial related, “Having just completed a major expansion in the health care segment, we moved rapidly to ensure the efficient processing of our new volume levels. Having successfully built and managed our national brokerage operation for over a ten year period, Fred was the logical choice to oversee our processing and credit departments for our expanding direct origination platform. We are now positioned to increase market share with top line sales and operational talent.”
About Unicyn Financial
Unicyn is a fast growing Independent Lessor located in New Jersey that has been in business for 25 years. The company currently provides leasing for the health care and commercial markets in the small ticket and lower middle market areas. The company maintains branch offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit and Los Angeles. The company's strength is their ability to perform for vendors and end users with their financial resources that combine self-funding capabilities with strong syndications expertise. For more information, contact Patrick McGahren at 201-767-5800, ext. 301 http://www.unicyn.com
Leasing Partners Capital Inc. expands, opens new operation in Oklahoma
Leasing Partners Names Moore for new Oklahoma Office
WAYNE, NJ., – Bob Moore has been named Market Development Manager at the firms new Western Oklahoma, location. Moore, a 30 year veteran of the finance industry, is a graduate of Southwestern Oklahoma State University and holds multiple industry licenses and certificates. Mr. Moore's has held leadership positions in finance, marketing, and economic development with major banks, Universities and corporations throughout Oklahoma.
“Business is booming in Oklahoma, the Leasing Partners model provides a perfect fit for me, I'm looking forward to the ability to provide competitive equipment leasing options for my clients.” Says Moore
“The Southwest is a hotbed for business expansion, I'm pleased to have Bob with his experience and successful track record join the Leasing Partners Team” says Duane E. Rouba, managing partner at Leasing Partners Capital's Northern New Jersey Headquarters. Rouba goes on to say, “last year, due to additions to our team, we experienced a 100% increase in revenue and lease transactions, we're on track to exceed that growth rate for this year.”
About Leasing Partners Capital Inc.
Leasing Partners Capital Inc. is a leading equipment and technology leasing company based in Northern New Jersey. The company operates 21 field offices throughout the United States.
Leasing Partners Capital has been offering financial and operating lease products to businesses and vendors in the Commercial, and Government Market sectors for more than 20 years.
The firm is known as a leader in the vendor leasing program arena as a result of excellent marketing execution, outstanding responsiveness and client service levels.
Robert T. Mayer
Leesport Bank Announces Equipment Leasing Program
WYOMISSING, Pa., -- Leesport Bank, a division of Leesport Financial Corp. (Nasdaq: FLPB - News), has announced it has begun offering Equipment Leasing to commercial customers.
"The value to our commercial customers from Madison Equipment Leasing is enormous," said James L. Kirkpatrick, Chief Lending Officer for Leesport Bank. "Adding equipment leasing allows our commercial customers to turn to Leesport Bank for everything from commercial lending to cash management to merchant services to an equipment leasing program."
The program, which will operate under the name Madison Equipment Leasing, offers customers a user-friendly program that covers a wide variety of leasing needs. Customers will be able to benefit from 100% financing, customized payments, and the ability to upgrade equipment while preserving capital and lines of credit for other purposes.
"Leesport Bank is committed to providing best-in-class service and quality to our customers, and we're constantly evaluating the products and services we offer our customers to ensure we're providing them with the options they want and need to help their businesses grow," said Kirkpatrick.
Equipment Leasing programs are gaining in acceptance with financial services companies dedicated to providing a one-stop shop approach to their customers. According to statistics provided by the Equipment Leasing Association:
-- Eighty percent of all businesses lease equipment
-- Of the $668 billion spent by businesses on productive assets in 2003,
31% was acquired through leasing
-- It's estimated that each increase of $1 billion in equipment
investment creates approximately 30,000 jobs
Leesport Financial Corp. is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Wyomissing, PA, offering banking, insurance, investments (Securities offered by, and Investment Consultants are registered with, UVEST Financial Services, member NASD/SIPC; UVEST and Madison Financial Advisors LLC are independent entities), wealth management, equipment leasing, and title insurance services throughout Berks, Southern Schuylkill, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Delaware, Bucks, and Lancaster Counties.
Source: Leesport Financial Corp.
Private Business Inc. Acquires Leasing Company, KVI Capital Inc.
NASHVILLE, Tenn.---Private Business, Inc. (NASDAQ: PBIZ), a leading provider of financial technology to community banks and middle-market businesses, today announced that it signed a definitive agreement to acquire KVI Capital, Inc., a financial services leasing company based in Jacksonville, Florida. Terms of the agreement were undisclosed.
KVI Capital, founded in February 2000, offers financial institutions the ability to provide a full-service leasing solution through its private-label bank lease program. The program is intended to leverage the financial institution's market knowledge and lending expertise, while providing leasing expertise and eliminating the administrative and financial challenges associated with starting a leasing operation.
As a result of this transaction, which is anticipated to close on August 1, 2005, PBiz will be able to provide its bank client base an additional product geared toward increasing their competitiveness while enhancing their profitability. PBiz, a trusted leader in the financial services industry, will offer this leasing solution to both banks and prospective merchants, utilizing PBiz's marketing expertise, while providing a mechanism for community banks to enter the expanding leasing market.
Commenting on the announcement, Henry M. Baroco, Private Business' Chief Executive Officer, stated, "This will enable us to deliver additional value for our existing customer base and develop new business opportunities. The KVI acquisition positions us to tap the demand for a leasing solution within our core markets with a proven platform. We also secure the existing lease arrangements and the experience of the company's Chief Executive Officer, Donald Kincaid, who will lead our future leasing sales effort."
Don Kincaid, Chief Executive Officer of KVI, stated, "We are pleased to join forces with such a well-respected financial services organization, and we look forward to expanding our business as we continue to provide leasing services and solutions to financial institutions." Mr. Kincaid will serve as Executive Vice President of Leasing for PBiz.
Private Business, Inc. (PBiz) is a leading supplier of financial technology to community banks and middle-market businesses. The Company is headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, and its common stock trades on The Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol PBIZ.
Banks Slow in Making Progress toward Basel II Compliance, Accenture Survey Finds; Cost Expectations and Concerns about Payback Rise; North American Banks Still Lag European Counterparts
LONDON---Despite increased efforts, banks are facing an uphill struggle in preparing for the Basel II Framework, which sets new standards in risk management and capital adequacy, according to results of a survey released today by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).
The survey queried senior executives responsible for Basel II compliance at 63 of the largest banks in North America and Europe to gauge the response to the challenges posed by the Framework, which strengthens existing capital rules by making them more risk-focused and by aligning regulatory capital levels more closely with economic capital to better reflect market risks.
Findings indicate that most banks are finding implementation tougher than anticipated and are less certain about the benefits of compliance than last year, when Accenture conducted a similar survey. Nevertheless, the vast majority of respondents said that the regulation is a catalyst for moving toward a more risk-based culture -- a key objective of the Framework -- by focusing senior management more closely on risk practices and on securing funding for necessary technology.
Consistent with findings from last year's survey, European banks are still much further along the Basel II implementation cycle than those in North America, perhaps reflecting a degree of complacency in light of last year's decision by U.S. regulators to delay application of the Framework domestically. The Basel II rules are expected to take effect globally in January 2008, although in the United States only the largest internationally active banks are required to comply.
"We were expecting more progress than we found over the last 12 months," said Paul Cartwright, managing partner of the Finance & Performance Management practice in Accenture's Financial Services operating group. "On the other hand, we're seeing a greater focus on moving forward on compliance, especially in North America. That's good, because the survey indicates that complying with Basel II is more difficult than most bankers thought."
Major survey findings include:
-- Almost half (45 percent) of the executives interviewed said they expect to spend in excess of EUR 50 million through 2007 on Basel II compliance, up significantly from 23 percent in last year's survey. Banks now have a much better idea of their total cost of compliance than they did last year, with only 10 percent of survey respondents saying they remain unsure of the total cost, compared with 29 percent last year.
-- Going beyond simple compliance, half (49 percent) of surveyed banks reported plans to leverage their Basel II capabilities with moderate or considerable further spending in more strategic solutions such as embedding best practices across their risk functions.
-- Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they expect Basel II to improve their banks' capital positions only slightly or not at all, an increase from 73 percent in last year's survey.
-- Reflecting the goal of the new rules to increase bankers' focus on managing capital for business rather than regulatory needs, about half (48 percent) of respondents said that the Basel II implementation process has improved their enterprise-level economic capital framework. Asked for examples of Framework benefits, the greatest number of respondents -- 83 percent -- cited two areas equally, improved capital allocation and closer alignment of the risk and finance functions.
"We were surprised to see such high expectations for integration of risk and finance, given their traditional separation," Cartwright said. "This should improve the quality of the data that support decision-making, particularly through a more risk-sensitive approach to profitability analysis and capital management."
Long Road Ahead
Survey results also indicate that while preparations for Basel II implementation proceed, many banks have significant work remaining. Only three (5 percent) of this year's respondents said their organizations have implemented at least one component of their Basel II programs. Across all geographies, the majority of banks are still designing or building their Basel II solutions. Even a reduction in respondent North American banks reporting early-stage gap analyses or designing solutions from 71 percent last year still shows half of 2005 surveyed institutions at this level.
In addition, only about two-fifths (39 percent) of North American banks have reached the 'build and test' phase of Basel II compliance -- considered the benchmark of concrete progress towards implementing a solution -- up from 21 percent last year. This compares with 82 percent of European banks attaining this stage this year, up from 67 percent last year.
The survey also shows that for many European banks, expected levels of spending on Basel II compliance are migrating higher. For instance, when asked their program estimates, 33 percent of European respondents in this year's survey said they expected to spend between EUR 51 million and EUR 100 million, up significantly from only 16 percent last year. Conversely, surveyed banks expecting program costs of EUR 26 million to EUR 50 million declined from 22 percent last year to only 9 percent this year.
Lagging North American banks appear to not yet comprehend the full impact of Basel II on their organizations, as 39 percent reported they expect to spend no more than EUR 25 million on their compliance programs.
"As European banks advanced further in the Basel II implementation cycle, they reported substantial increases in expected costs," Cartwright said. "North American banks are earlier in the cycle and are probably underestimating compliance expense. Although many large North American banks already have the sophisticated risk measurement capabilities encapsulated in Basel II, most still face significant spending to get the underlying data right and to address the crucial Pillar 2 reporting requirements."
Across both regions, for most banks the bulk of Basel II spending will be on credit risk and information technology systems, with operational risk requiring a far lower portion of the expense.
Benefits Less Clear
Bankers are generally less enthusiastic about the benefits from investing in Basel II compliance than they were last year, with notable regional differences. When asked how they viewed investing for business benefits beyond basic Basel II compliance, 60 percent of European participants said the business case was "strong" or "very strong," compared with just 34 percent of North American respondents.
Across all geographies, there was a sharp decline in the positive perceptions of specific benefits from implementing Basel II. For example, only 35 percent of respondents in this year's survey said they strongly agree that the Framework will improve capital allocation, down from 55 percent last year. In addition, only 19 percent of respondents in this year's survey said they strongly expect enhanced market perception to result from compliance, down from 59 percent last year; and only 25 percent this year said they strongly expect enhanced process efficiency, down from 43 percent last year.
"Banks' experience with Basel II continues to lower the industry's expectations about what compliance will actually achieve and at what price," said Cartwright. "Unfortunately, these cost concerns are overshadowing the positive long-term business case for many banks. Some are focused solely on cost, while others are looking at the major benefits and competitive advantage that modest additional investment can bring."
The survey was designed and analyzed by Accenture and executed via telephone interviews with senior executives at 63 of the largest banks in North America and Europe during April and May 2005. The interviews, conducted by market research agency Kadence (UK) Ltd on behalf of Accenture, were based on a standardized, structured questionnaire designed to explore respondents' views on key issues in relation to their implementation of the Basel II Framework.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With more than 115,000 people in 48 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$13.67 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2004. Its home page is www.accenture.com .
U.S. Bancorp Ranked Second in the World in Return
MINNEAPOLIS--U.S. Bancorp is ranked as the second best company in the world when it comes to return on revenue, according to the July 25 edition of Fortune magazine. The publication notes U.S. Bancorp had a return on revenue of 28.3 percent based on the company's 2004 profits as a percentage of revenues. The only company with a better return on revenue, according to Fortune, was China Construction Bank with 30.7 percent. The average return on revenue for a company making the prestigious annual Fortune Global 500 ranking was 4.3 percent.
U.S. Bancorp also ranked 420 in the Fortune Global 500 ranking of the largest companies in the world, with revenues of more than $14.7 billion in 2004. The revenues for commercial banks and savings institutions making the Fortune list were based on the sum of interest and noninterest revenues for the past fiscal year.
U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB), with $204 billion in assets, is the 6th largest financial holding company in the United States. The company operates 2,383 banking offices and 4,877 ATMs in 24 states, and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. U.S. Bancorp is home of the Five Star Service Guarantee in which the company pays customers if certain key banking benefits and services are not met. U.S. Bancorp is the parent company of U.S. Bank. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at usbank.com.
CONTACT: U.S. Bancorp
Steve Dale, 612-303-0784
CIT Announces Second Quarter Results; Increases Guidance
- EPS up 26% from prior year
NEW YORK, -- CIT Group Inc. (NYSE: CIT)
today reported net income of $220.7 million for the second quarter, an increase of 25% from $176.6 million last year. Diluted earnings per share were $1.03 for the quarter, up from $0.82 last year. Net income for the six months ended June 30, 2005 totaled $431.1 million (diluted EPS $2.01), up 18% from $365.9 million (diluted EPS $1.70) last year. Return on average tangible equity ("ROTE") for the quarter and the six months was 16.3% and 15.7%, compared to 13.7% and 14.4% last year.
Low charge-offs, strong non-spread revenues and a lower effective tax rate drove the current quarter results. Net income for the quarter was also impacted by two initiatives. First, we sold the majority (approximately $900 million) of our business aircraft portfolio for a pretax gain of $22.0 million, which allows for the redeployment of capital into higher returning businesses. Second, in conjunction with the realignment of Commercial Finance and other business streamlining activities, we recorded a $25.2 million pretax restructuring charge, relating to termination benefits for approximately 200 employees.
Commenting on the Company's performance, Jeffrey M. Peek, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said: "We are very pleased with our performance for the first half of the year. We exceeded our ROTE target of 16%, new business volumes increased company wide and credit quality continues to be terrific. These trends support our confidence in the underlying momentum of the organization and therefore we increased our earnings guidance for EPS growth to more than 20% and ROTE to exceed 16% for 2005."
Mr. Peek continued, "For the remainder of the year, we will focus on portfolio optimization, capital redeployment, and balance sheet strength. The business aircraft divestiture and the acquisition of Healthcare Business Credit Corporation are prime examples of our strategy in action. In addition, our expanded share repurchase program is another demonstration of how improved capital allocation permits us to increase shareholder returns."
* Return on average tangible equity was 16.3%, up from 15.3% and 13.7% during last quarter and the prior year quarter.
* Return on average earning assets was 1.86% for the quarter, compared to 1.91% last quarter and 1.86% last year.
* Return on average managed assets was 1.61%, compared to 1.62% and 1.52% during last quarter and the prior year quarter.
Net Finance and Risk-Adjusted Margin
* Net finance margin was 3.36% as a percentage of average earning assets, compared to 3.54% last quarter and 3.91% last year. The decline from last quarter was primarily due to lower yield-related fees, the full-quarter impact of a greater mix of Student Loan Xpress assets, the effect of rising short-term interest rates, maturity extensions and pricing pressure.
* Operating lease margins, at 6.08% of average operating leases, were up from 5.83% and 4.93% during last quarter and last year, reflecting improved margins in both aerospace and rail.
* Risk-adjusted margin (net finance margin after provision for credit losses) was 2.96%, compared to 3.13% and 3.21% last quarter and last year.
Full Press Release with financial statements at:
KeyCorp Reports Second Quarter 2005 Earnings
- Second quarter EPS of $0.70, up 21% from the year-ago quarter
CLEVELAND, -- KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY) announced second quarter net income of $291 million, or $0.70 per diluted common share, compared with $239 million, or $0.58 per share, for the second quarter of 2004. For the first quarter of 2005, net income was $264 million, or $0.64 per diluted common share. For the first six months of 2005, net income was $555 million, or $1.34 per diluted common share, compared with $489 million, or $1.17 per share, for the first half of 2004.
Return on average equity reached 16.15% for the second quarter of 2005, compared with 13.97% for the same period last year and 15.09% for the first quarter of 2005.
"Key's solid second quarter results reflect continued improvement in the company's operating fundamentals and the positive effects of our longer-term strategic activities," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Henry L. Meyer III. "Taxable-equivalent net interest income increased $72 million from the second quarter of last year, benefiting from a better net interest margin, substantial commercial loan growth and an increase in core deposits. Once again, we saw improvements in asset quality; nonperforming loans decreased for the 11th consecutive quarter and net loan charge-offs, as a percentage of average loans, remained at their lowest level since the fourth quarter of 1995.
"During the second quarter, we completed the sale of the nonprime segment of our indirect automobile loan portfolio and the integration of American Express Business Finance Corporation into Key Equipment Finance, our leasing line of business. These and other strategic actions we have taken to improve our business mix and credit risk profile clearly are contributing to our improving performance."
The company expects earnings to be in the range of $0.64 to $0.68 per share for the third quarter of 2005 and $2.60 to $2.70 per share for the full year.
SUMMARY OF CONSOLIDATED RESULTS
Taxable-equivalent net interest income was $723 million for the second quarter of 2005, compared with $714 million for the previous quarter and $651 million for the same period one year ago. This growth was attributable to a higher net interest margin, which improved to 3.71% from 3.66% for the previous quarter and 3.56% for the second quarter of 2004. During the second quarter of 2005, the net interest margin benefited from a principal investing distribution of $15 million received in the form of dividends and interest. This distribution added approximately 8 basis points to the net interest margin for the current quarter. Key's average earning assets for the second quarter of 2005 declined slightly from the prior quarter, due largely to the sale of the nonprime segment of the indirect automobile loan portfolio completed in April and the sale of the prime segment in March. Compared with the same period last year, average earning assets increased by 7%, due primarily to strong commercial loan growth.
In light of recent changes in industry reporting practice, during the second quarter of 2005, Key reclassified its operating leases from "Loans" to "Accrued income and other assets" for all periods presented. The rental income and depreciation expense associated with these leases were similarly reclassified from "Net interest income" to "Other income" and to "Other expense," respectively. The reclassification of these leases, which have historically represented less than 1 percent of Key's total earning assets, had no effect on net income in any of the periods for which the reclassification was made.
Key's noninterest income was $486 million for the second quarter of 2005, compared with $500 million for the first quarter. The decrease reflected a $15 million decline in income from investment banking and capital markets activities, due to a reduction in net gains from principal investing activities, and lower revenue from dealer trading and derivatives. During the first quarter, Key recorded $11 million of derivative income in connection with the anticipated sale of the indirect automobile loan portfolio. In addition, net gains from loan securitizations and sales declined by $9 million from the prior quarter. Included in Key's results for the first quarter of 2005 was a $19 million gain that resulted from the sale of the prime segment of the indirect automobile loan portfolio. These decreases were offset, in part, by growth in service charges on deposit accounts, higher letter of credit and loan fees, and net gains from the sales of securities, compared with net losses incurred for the prior quarter.
Compared with the year-ago quarter, noninterest income decreased by $5 million, due largely to declines of $21 million in income from investment banking and capital markets activities, and $10 million in service charges on deposit accounts. These reductions were partially offset by increases in letter of credit and loan fees, and net gains from loan securitizations and sales.
Key's noninterest expense was $753 million for the second quarter of 2005, compared with $769 million for the previous quarter. The reduction was due to a $30 million net occupancy charge recorded during the first quarter of 2005 to adjust the accounting for rental expense associated with operating leases from an escalating to a straight-line basis, and a $20 million contribution (included in miscellaneous expense) to the Key Foundation, also recorded during the first quarter, to fund future contributions. The overall reduction in noninterest expense was moderated by increases in marketing and a variety of other expense components.
Compared with the second quarter of 2004, noninterest expense rose by $36 million, with the single largest factor being a $15 million increase in personnel expense.
Key's provision for loan losses was $20 million for the second quarter of 2005, down from $44 million for the first quarter of 2005 and $74 million for the year-ago quarter.
Net loan charge-offs for the quarter totaled $48 million, or 0.29% of average loans, compared with $54 million, or 0.32%, for the previous quarter and $104 million, or 0.67%, for the same period last year.
During the second quarter of 2005, Key's nonperforming loans decreased by $12 million to $293 million and represented 0.43% of period-end loans at June 30, 2005, compared with 0.45% at March 31, 2005, and 0.72% at June 30, 2004.
Key's allowance for loan losses stood at $1.100 billion, or 1.62% of loans outstanding at June 30, 2005, compared with $1.128 billion, or 1.67% at March 31, 2005, and $1.276 billion, or 2.01% at June 30, 2004. At June 30, 2005, the allowance for loan losses represented 375% of nonperforming loans, compared with 370% at March 31, 2005, and 281% a year ago.
Key's capital ratios continued to exceed all "well-capitalized" regulatory benchmarks at June 30, 2005. Key's tangible equity to tangible assets ratio was 6.60% at quarter end, compared with 6.43% at March 31, 2005, and 6.64% at June 30, 2004. The ratio is currently within management's targeted range of 6.25% to 6.75%.
Key's capital position provides it with the flexibility to take advantage of future investment opportunities, to repurchase shares when appropriate and to pay dividends. During the second quarter of 2005, Key did not repurchase any of its common shares. At June 30, 2005, there were 26,961,248 shares remaining for repurchase under the current authorization. Share repurchases and other activities that caused the change in Key's outstanding common shares over the past five quarters are summarized in the table below.
Full press release at: http://www.snl.com/Interactive/IR/file.asp?IID=100334&FID=
GATX Announces Quarterly Dividend
CHICAGO----The board of directors of GATX Corporation (NYSE:GMT) declared a quarterly dividend of $0.20 per common share, payable September 30, 2005, to shareholders of record on September 15, 2005.
The board also declared a quarterly dividend of $0.625 per share on the $2.50 preferred stock, payable September 1, 2005, to shareholders of record on August 15, 2005.
The common and preferred dividends declared today are unchanged from the previous quarter.
GATX Corporation (NYSE:GMT) provides lease financing and related services to customers operating rail, air, marine and other targeted assets. GATX is a leader in leasing transportation assets and controls one of the largest railcar fleets in the world. Applying over a century of operating experience and strong market and asset expertise, GATX provides quality assets and services to customers worldwide. GATX has been headquartered in Chicago, IL since its founding in 1898 and has traded on the New York Stock Exchange since 1916. For more information, visit the Company's website at www.gatx.com.
Investor, corporate, financial, historical financial, photographic and news release information may be found at www.gatx.com.
CONTACT: GATX Corporation
Rhonda S. Johnson, 312-621-6262
SOURCE: GATX Corporation
Gordon Brothers Expands Industrial Division;
Firm Sees Risks in Peak Liquidity and Overseas Outsourcing
BOSTON, – Seeing greater demand for accurate valuations and asset sales due to the risks associated with peak liquidity levels and increased global outsourcing, Gordon Brothers Group today announced the launch of a significantly expanded industrial division, and named Robert Maroney, most recently Chief Appraisal Officer at Bank of America, to lead the effort.
Maroney, who has been appointed President of the newly-named Gordon Brothers Industrial, has over 25 years of expertise in the valuation of all classes of industrial assets. He will work closely with John Coelho, a key member of senior management, to capitalize on the firm's experience in the disposition of manufacturing, construction, and industrial equipment and inventories. A number of ASA certified appraisers are also joining Maroney at Gordon Brothers Industrial.
Gordon Brothers Industrial provides appraisal and disposition services to lenders, financial sponsors and corporate clients. It operates globally, serving Europe and Asia in partnership with Gordon Brothers Group's wholly-owned subsidiary, SHM/Smith Hodgkinson.
“Gordon Brothers will now emerge as one of the world's foremost firms in the appraisal and disposition of industrial assets,” stated Mark Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer of Gordon Brothers Group. “This completes our expansion into all asset categories, a strategic move that gives our clients one firm they can rely on for expertise in inventory, real estate, machinery and equipment, accounts receivable and intellectual property.”
“With the hiring of Bob Maroney and the expansion of our team, our industrial expertise is now equal to our retail and consumer products expertise,” added Michael Frieze, Chairman of Gordon Brothers Group. “Bob's unparalleled understanding of industrial and commercial asset values, and impeccable standards, will benefit our clients worldwide.”
“We will give lenders, manufacturers and industrial firms what they really want -- accurate, reliable information about the value of assets,” said Maroney. “Since Gordon Brothers buys and sells billions of dollars of inventory, real estate and industrial assets each year, frequently in distressed situations, there is a real, quantifiable basis for determining their true recovery value. Unlike others in the market, we can actively leverage this data in every valuation, ensuring the accuracy and consistency of the resulting appraisal.”
About Gordon Brothers Group
Founded in 1903, Gordon Brothers Group (www.gordonbrothers.com) provides global advisory, operating and financial services to companies at times of growth or restructuring. Gordon Brothers appraises, acquires and sells a wide range of assets, including inventory, real estate, industrial assets, accounts receivable and intellectual property. Gordon Brothers disposes in excess of $10 billion in assets at original value annually and appraises over $30 billion. The firm also provides debt financing and equity capital to consumer products companies, and facilitates mergers and acquisitions with strategic partners. Gordon Brothers is headquartered in Boston and maintains 20 offices and satellites worldwide.
U.S. Bancorp Equipment Finance, Inc. Names Aviation
PORTLAND, Ore.----U.S. Bancorp Equipment Finance, Inc. has hired John Dorenbecher as a vice president and aviation specialist in the Capital Equipment Group and moved Michael Cole into the aviation specialty.
Dorenbecher will provide corporate aircraft loan and lease financing solutions for companies in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Dorenbecher has more than 25 years of experience in the corporate aviation industry and was most recently with CIT Group. He will operate out of his Yountville, Calif. office.
Cole, currently with the Capital Equipment Group, has changed his focus to the corporate aviation financing side of the business as vice president and aviation specialist. Cole has more than 20 years of financial sales experience, a master's degree in finance and an Airline Transport Pilots (ATP) license. He will continue to operate out of his Naperville, Ill. office and will engage companies in the Central Time zone.
"We are pleased to announce the addition of these two highly qualified and experienced specialists to our aviation team," said Greg Mamula, executive vice president and general manager of the Capital Equipment Group.
CONTACT: U.S. Bancorp Media Relations
Farm Credit Leasing Goes Live with IDS Rapport
Implementation of Web-based origination-through-booking system
MINNEAPOLIS, MN, – International Decision Systems (IDS), the standard-setting leader in equipment financing software and service solutions, announced today that Farm Credit Leasing (FCL) has gone live with IDS Rapport and will be rolling out the system beginning in the third quarter to its Farm Credit System association partners.
FCL, an independently chartered institution of the Farm Credit System, is the U.S.'s largest agricultural leasing company, serving more than 7,000 customers and managing over $1 billion in lease assets. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CoBank, which specializes in financing for U.S. agribusinesses, rural utilities and Farm Credit associations.
“We chose to replace a group of disparate systems with one tightly integrated front-end system that uses leasing best practices to simplify bid quote to closing,” said Mike Romanowski, Vice President of Strategic Relationships for FCL's parent company CoBank. “Our overarching goal was to integrate and align our business functions and market approach to better serve our partners, and to support our mission to be the preferred provider of financial services to the system.”
Mr. Romanowski added that beyond Rapport, IDS played a key role in the business process reengineering stage, “providing strong underlying support which was crucial to the project's success. We've already begun to see the benefits and are keeping in step with future developments in lease accounting.”
“It is exciting to see the transformation taking place at FCL,” said Todd Davis, Chief Operating Officer of IDS. “Rapport is proving its mettle in terms of handling some of the most complex situations from a leasing perspective, and its ability to be customized with an extraordinary breadth of business rules.”
Rapport will enhance core application processing functionality, partner/vendor support and reporting capabilities, increase information security, and support multiple financial product types and participations. In addition, it will provide multiple workflow efficiencies, as well as connectivity with other FCL applications, and has been developed to handle the tax rules for all 50 states, including tax exemption, down to the county and city level, as the appropriate tax logic has been configured into the system.
Introduced in 2002, Rapport has been selected by more than 25 companies to increase the efficiency of their lease/loan processing from origination through booking. While it can be fully integrated with a range of back-office systems, the teaming of Rapport with ProFiniaTM, the asset-centric lease/loan accounting system from IDS, forms a powerful, highly customizable solution suite that promotes increased productivity and return on asset (ROA) across the enterprise. IDS's expert Professional Services team offers a full range of client support, including a complete migration strategy to minimize the cost and risk associated with conversion to these solutions.
About International Decision Systems
International Decision Systems (IDS) is the global leader in developing lease/loan accounting and portfolio management software and services. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, IDS also has offices in London, Sydney, and Singapore. IDS offers the largest and most experienced global consulting, implementation, and technical support teams in the equipment financing industry. For additional information about International Decision Systems, visit www.idsgrp.com.
About Farm Credit Leasing (FCL)
With more than $1 billion in leases outstanding, FCL serves 7,000 customers across the nation. Customers include agricultural producers, cooperatives, Farm Credit associations, agribusinesses and rural electric, communications and water systems. FCL is part of the $125 billion U.S. Farm Credit System, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CoBank, a Farm Credit System bank with $31 billion in assets. For more information on FCL, visit www.fcleasing.com.
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1999 - Lance Armstrong rode to victory in the Tour de France, capping an amazing comeback from cancer. He was only the second American to win cycling's showcase race.
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