Friday, May 13, 2005
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100 ELA Members Run for Safety at Capital Hill Day
For participants, the Equipment Leasing Association's Capitol Hill Day is always memorable. After all, taking your industry's case to the seat of government is something you don't do every day. But Wednesday was one nobody will ever forget. A few minutes after noon, when authorities evacuated the Capitol building (along with the White House) and then the surrounding area, more than 100 ELA members were crisscrossing Capitol Hill for appointments with their senators and representatives or their staffs. One minute you're explaining the chilling effect of retroactive taxes on business, the next you're running for safety.
The evacuation, of course, was spurred by a private airplane that strayed into the restricted airspace over Washington, D.C. What eventually turned out to be a false alarm was taken very seriously by Capitol Hill Police, who told evacuees to "run" as far from the buildings as possible. Overhead, fighter jets screamed by.
Despite the scare, when the "all clear" was given a while later, most attendees were able to resume their scheduled meetings. The evacuation was just one more (albeit unplanned) in a series of events for Capitol Hill Day participants. The "Day" actually began on Tuesday afternoon at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with an issue briefing and some advice to new participants on conducting their Congressional visits. Rep. Phil English (R-PA) a member of the spoke to attendees and answered questions. That evening, participants enjoyed a reception in the Lyndon Johnson Room of the Capitol building, with several important senators and congressmen also in attendance. Breakfast on Wednesday included an address by a White House economic advisor, and the lessors were off the Hill for an eventful--and a highly successful day.
Partner's Equity Defies Rumors, Growing Stronger
Rumors floating around on various web blogs and e-mails about the demise of Partners Equity Capital in Horsham, Pennsylvania are untrue, according to a spokesman for the company.
Two positive newsworthy announcements are expected in June, awaiting the completion of all signed matters.
This week Partner's Equity announced “... a strategic alliance with Oki Data Americas to provide a variety of finance solutions offerings to Oki Data dealers, solution providers and customers on a full line of color digital LED printers, monochrome printers, serial impact dot matrix printers, multifunction products and facsimiles.”
Business could not be better, the spokesman stated.
It appears the company, following their auditors advice, has written off the NorVergence leases; however, Leasing News was told it is their policy to attempt to collect all monies owed as it does affect their bottom line.
Eleven Leasing Companies Taken for NorVergence-type Fraud
In additional to alleged selling of the same leases to various community banks, plus taking on as many NorVergence “ERA” contracts as they could, the “bad boys” at Preferred Capital along with ten other leasing companies entered into reportedly fraudulent leasing contracts with over one thousand golf courses.
The situation has similarities to the NorVergence telecom scandal, but this involves advertising on wine-beer golf “caddies” written on private label lease contracts with the name of lessor as Royal Links USA, Holland, Ohio.
These are the eleven leasing companies involved in the alleged fraud with Royal Links.
“Royal Links USA had salesmen call on golf courses to offer free beverage carts. (cold beer, wine, soda's, snacks.) The courses would use them and allow advertising panels to be displayed by Royal Links. Various national merchandisers would pay Royal Links for ads. Royal Links supplied products for free with delivery, and also paid the courses a lump sum (normally $1000) to initially stock the cart with startup merchandise.
“Courses entered into an agreement whereby Royal Links paid the course about $300 per month in sponsorship money, which was then sent back to their leasing arm as a lease payment. This arrangement was simply explained as their accounting procedure.
“We became concerned initially when it was requested the cart be insured for $12,500. The cost of the cart is most likely less then $1000.
“In October 2004, all courses were notified that Royal Links would no longer pay the $300 per month in sponsorship money. Our cart had been delivered about 60 days prior to this notice. The leasing company insisted they were independent and demanded the $300 monthly payment (for 5 years). Preferred Capital quoted a payoff of approximately $15,900.”
(name with held)
According to their web site at www.ngcoa.org :
“The National Golf Course Owners Association has more than 6,000 member courses worldwide and an audience of more than 18,000 through Golf Business magazine, NGCOA is the leading resource for golf course owners and operators looking for tools to assist them in making their businesses more profitable and successful, while promoting a high level of service to partners, customers and members. For more information, visit www.ngcoa.org.”
Jay Karen, Director of Membership for the National Golf Course Owners Association web site, summed up the matter:
“ Royal Links USA entered into written agreements with over one thousand golf courses throughout the United States, in which golf courses would use Royal Links' beverage caddies to display and sell food and beverage items on the golf course. This “no cost beverage caddy” program involved golf courses leasing the caddies from third-party leasing companies, and Royal Links USA agreeing to reimburse the golf courses for their lease obligations. Royal Links USA proposed to make their revenue from advertising display panels on the beverage caddies.
“In October 2004, Royal Links USA notified golf courses across the country that it planned to cease making monthly reimbursement payments to all customers. Each golf course has a written agreement with Royal Links USA, which obligates Royal Links to pay courses approximately $300 per caddy per month, an equivalent amount to the lease obligations. Most lease obligations are for sixty months, and most golf courses have seen less than one year's worth of reimbursements from Royal Links USA, thus leaving an obligation to pay four more years of lease payments. In some cases, golf courses were sold on the program within days of the written correspondence from Royal Links USA.
The Chicago-based laws firm of Lord, Bissell & Brook LLP filed the action on behalf of members who contributed funds for this matter.
In an up-date on this matter, Mr. Karen posted this on the www.ngcoa.org web site:
“A class action complaint was filed against Royal Links USA, Inc. ("Royal Links") in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on April 1, 2005. The complaint alleges, among other things, that Royal Links breached the terms of its beverage caddie program agreements with hundreds of golf course owners and operators across the United States. It is expected that Royal Links will be served with the complaint soon. Discovery and further investigation will commence in the coming weeks and we will provide you with updates concerning the status of the case.
“ Some of the leasing companies involved in the beverage caddie transactions have responded to correspondence sent on behalf of course owners and operators. Legal counsel is currently reviewing these responses and evaluating what further action should be taken with respect to the leasing companies.
“Lord, Bissell and Brook sent certified letters to all leasing companies which participated in the Royal Links beverage caddy program. These communications accuse the leasing companies of conspiracy to defraud participating golf course owners, demand the leases be cancelled immediately and all remaining lease payments be forgiven. Copies of the letters are below.
“Andrew Gifford of Lord, Bissell & Brook LLP (LB&B) addressed a group of golf course owners at the NGCOA Solutions Summit. Mr. Gifford outlined options for legal action against Royal Links USA and the various leasing companies. Royal Links will likely be named as a defendant in the lawsuit. A lead plaintiff has been identified. LB&B is currently evaluating possible action against the leasing companies.
“With respect to those course operators who have received offers for new lease agreements from leasing companies, Gifford discussed the fact that companies signing a new agreement may result in a waiver of potential recourse against the leasing companies.”
A call to RoyalLinks USA states “no one is available to take your call.”
The option of going to the operator resulted in a disconnect. A message was left in a second call for a statement regarding the company's position. Leasing News subsequently learned from another source that the principals of the company have started a new similar venture.
Here is a copy of the letter written to Preferred Capital, which also has a copy of the private label leasing contract:
Here is a copy of the complaint, 42 pages, 30mb download in pdf format (Please be aware, this is a long down load as it is a very large file and will be five minutes even on a T1 line):
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Menkin on Telecom Audio Blog
Dan Baldwin of Telecom Agents Association audio blog interviewed Leasing News editor/publisher Kit Menkin on Preferred Capital, Huntington Bank, Lessees making lease payments on NorVergence Leases, the status of defaults, and more...Play when you have the time, as it is a half hour interview.
You can send an audio e-mail (audio post card) or create your own audio message on your web site.
To learn more about sending over audio or creating an audio blog:
David G. Mayer's Business Leasing News---May Issue
1 .Bankruptcy Reform Favors Leasing, But Poses New Challenges For Lessors
Location of May newsletter:
Lessors Network Annual Showcase
This annual event has become the hottest ticket in equipment leasing circles as total attendance is purposely limited and attendee registrations confirmed for an exclusive group of Rainmakers representing the funding, technology and outsourcing sectors of the equipment leasing industry. Additionally, this is the only leasing event to provide a showcase for every attendee's company, product and service, not just the exhibitors and sponsors.
Roundtable discussions and innovative Showcase forums inform and introduce an elite group of senior leasing executives to topical subjects, products and services driving commercial and municipal leasing markets today.
This year, Roundtable forums will feature an executive panel of speakers providing comment on the current dynamics within the equipment leasing industry and strategies for the future. Topics will include:
• Leasing: Yesterday – Today - Tomorrow
Always popular are the innovative "Showcase" forums featuring rapid fire introductions of funding sources, technology products and outsourcing services by alternating speakers who have just 5 to 10 minutes to deliver their message to a room full of attendees. Following speaker presentations, everyone moves into the Network Suite, a warm relaxed enclave of elegance, where attendees have comfortable access to speakers and their promotional materials. No exhibit booths, no appointments and no problems.
Event Director, Barbara Savage describes these Showcase forms as a form of "Speed Dating". "Exposing attendees to the maximum number of resources in the shortest amount of time, attendees don't have to suffer long boring presentations to identify and evaluate who they need to speak with."
Also scheduled, a special General Session presentation entitled "Lease Securitization: New Challenges for Issuers" will be made by Howard Mulligan, a partner in the firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP.
To learn more about the Lessors Network Annual Showcase, visit the Lessors Network at www.lessors.com .
About the Lessors Network:
The Lessors Network's events and online utilities point the world to lease funding services, technology products and outsourcing resources. Additional information can be viewed at www.lessors.com
Key Equipment Names R.J. Grimshaw Vice-President and Director, Information Technology Segment
SUPERIOR, CO. – – Key Equipment Finance, one of the nation's largest bank-affiliated equipment financing companies and an affiliate of KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY), has appointed R. J. Grimshaw as vice president and director of Key's Information Technology (IT) segment within Key's express leasing services group. IT is one of seven vendor market segments served by the express leasing services group. In his new role, Mr. Grimshaw will manage and expand sales efforts related to the financing needs of IT manufacturers, distributors and value-added resellers who want to offer lease financing to their commercial customers in the U.S.
“R.J. is experienced in many aspects of equipment financing and has worked in both direct and vendor leasing markets at Key,” said Adam Warner, president and chief operating officer for Key Equipment Finance's express leasing services group. “I am pleased with his decision to accept this senior-level position in our Houston office.”
“R.J.'s new position is a perfect demonstration of how Key's continual growth allows us to attract, develop and retain top talent,” said Paul A. Larkins, president and chief executive officer, Key Equipment Finance.
Mr. Grimshaw joined Key Equipment Finance in 2001 as a regional leasing manager serving the central and western New York regions. In 2004 he moved to the position of vice president and small business team leader for KeyBank's central New York region. Prior to joining Key, he was regional leasing manager at Wells Fargo Equipment Finance and an account executive with M&T Bank.
Mr. Grimshaw and his family will relocate from the Syracuse, New York, area to Key's express leasing hub in Houston, Texas.
Key Equipment Finance is an affiliate of KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY) and provides business-to-business equipment financing solutions to businesses of many types and sizes. The company focuses on four distinct markets:
Cleveland-based KeyCorp is one of the nation's largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $91 billion. Key companies provide investment management, retail and commercial banking, consumer finance, and investment banking products and services to individuals and companies throughout the United States and, for certain businesses, internationally.
Fitch: Upgrade Momentum Slows for U.S. Bond Market
Fitch Ratings-New York- A retreat in upgrade momentum pushed the ratio of par downgrades to upgrades for the U.S. bond market back up to 2.1 to 1 in the first quarter of 2005, reversing the more balanced tone established in 2004 of downgrades to upgrades of 1.3 to 1. The par value of bonds affected by upgrades totaled $20.6 billion in the first quarter, down from the $35.2 billion recorded in the last quarter of 2004. Volume upgrades had risen 143% year over year in 2004 and the last quarter of the year, in particular, was among the best in terms of quarterly upgrades in several years.
Preliminary data suggests that the loss of upgrade momentum continued in April for both the speculative and investment grade portions of the market.
Ironically, the number of industry sectors experiencing some upgrades was actually up in the first quarter of 2005 to 14 from 12 in the last quarter of 2004 and just four in the first quarter of 2004. However, as noted above, the par value of bonds affected by the upgrades contracted significantly relative to recent quarters. In other words, the upgrades had less of a bite, affecting less than 1% of market volume.
New issuance for the U.S. Bond Market appeared to continue to move along at a brisk pace in the first quarter, matching levels recorded in the first quarter of 2004, however, while issuance continued to grow for the financial sectors, it was down 20% year-over-year for industrial borrowers and in particular, non-investment grade issuance was down 33% compared with the first quarter of 2004. Among the industrials, many companies opted to raise funds in the commercial paper or loan market rather than sell bonds in the first quarter. Non financial commercial paper, in particular was up 13% compared with December 2004 levels.
Fitch's report containing a complete analysis of rating and issuance trends for the U.S. Bond Market in the first quarter of 2005 is titled 'Positive Rating Drift Slows in Early 2005' and is available on the Fitch Ratings web site at 'www.fitchratings.com' under the 'Credit Market Research' link.
Fitch's U.S. Bond Market Credit Insight looks at macro trends for outstanding U.S. dollar-denominated, nonconvertible bonds issued by companies domiciled in the U.S. (at the end of December the market's size was $3.1 trillion). Downgrades and upgrades noted above refer to broad category changes, i.e. 'BBB' to 'BB'. Ratings are based on a blended average of the ratings assigned by Fitch or one of the other two major rating agencies.
Contact: Paul Mancuso +1-212-908-0225 or Mariarosa Verde +1-212-908-0791, New York.
Media Relations: Brian Bertsch +1-212-908-0549, New York
To access the report, please click the link below:
Odessa announces launch of Fleet Management software
Odessa Technologies, Inc. announced the launch of its integrated fleet management system, LeaseWave Fleet Management (FM).
The system is built as a part of Odessa's LeaseWave suite of leasing products and fully interfaces with the existing back-end lease accounting and asset management system. Through the introduction of LeaseWave FM, vehicle lessors now have an end-to-end and integrated solution that not only manages their leases but also their fleet contracts. As such, it is the first system of its kind to be marketed in North America.
In building LeaseWave FM, Odes sa aimed to cater to a niche need in the vehicle leasing industry. It found that fleet leasing companies generally have disparate systems handling their leasing and fleet management activities. This not only forced the company to view it self as having two different focuses, but also made its operations cumbersome.
Customers with both leasing as well as fleet related billings received two invoices; of course, customized invoices were not even possible without manual intervention. Profitability analysis on a lease, customer, fleet segment or any other classification of the fleet portfolio were difficult to come by as it necessitated collating and reconciling information from unconnected systems.
This technological disconnect made it difficult to obtain strong profitability and cross-functional efficiency performance metrics. Without knowing how a given full-maintenance customer's maintenance PO's stacked up against their lease billings, for instance, it becomes difficult to accurately measure profitability, let alone understand how aggressive or conservative parameters can be when renegotiating contracts.
In addition to providing a full-fledged solution to existing fleet leasing companies, “[Odessa] is confident that LeaseWave FM can open new avenues of revenue and even an entirely new business for vehicle lessors that are not already into fleet management”, says Jay Mehra, COO, Odessa Technologies. “We have found that vehicle lessors averse to fleet management generally have not found an easy means of managing fleet activities; this has traditionally kept them out of the fleet management game. We hope that LeaseWave FM will change that.”
Like the rest of the LeaseWave suite, LeaseWave FM is fully Internet-based. It covers the entire gamut of fleet operations, comprehensively managing the entire life cycle of a fleet contract. Typically, this begins with the issuance of a fleet card and ends when the vehicle is taken off road.
Among other things, the LeaseWave Fleet software system comes equipped with complete fuel purchase management, maintenance work management, accident management, license management, fleet card administration, exceptions reporting and customer billing capabilities. Through LeaseWave FM, fleet services can be administered either as value-added services that complement the lease life-cycle or as separate, stand-alone product offerings, independent of leasing. It follows, therefore, that LeaseWave Fleet can be deployed as a component of Odessa's suite of lease and asset management solutions or as an independent system.
About Odessa Technologies, Inc.
Odessa Technologies, Inc. is a software company located in Philadelphia, PA, with a sole focus in building and marketing software solutions to the leasing industries. The LeaseWave suite is its fully-integrated family of products that cater to various parts of the leasing operations, providing an end-to-end solution that is fully Internet-based. Furthermore, recognizing that each business is unique, the LeaseWave suite has been engineered, specifically, to be customizable. Designed using cutting-edge technology and sound functional expertise, LeaseWave can be custom-built to fit around the unique needs of each lessor. While not every client requires customization, the LeaseWave suite is flexible to cater to even the most complex of business models, as evidenced by its strong customer base. LeaseWave is the only end-to-end system that is fully Internet-based. Its technology as well as its ability to be customized easily differentiates it from competing products.
For further information, please contact:
Willis Lease Finance Reports First Quarter Profit of $566,000
SAUSALITO, Calif.)----Willis Lease Finance Corporation (Nasdaq:WLFC), a leading lessor of commercial jet engines, today reported net income of $566,000, or $0.06 per diluted share, in the first quarter compared to $969,000, or $0.1 1 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2004. Higher revenues only partially offset increased financing costs and depreciation expense in the quarter.
"We are seeing some very positive trends in the marketplace," said Charles F. Willis, President and CEO. "Despite the high cost of fuel and heavy competition, the international aviation market is seeing substantial growth. For example, recent deregulation in India is opening that huge country to expanded commercial aviation services sparking a surge of new activity there. In the last year, four new low cost carriers were started to serve the Indian market, creating demand for new and used aircraft and aviation services across the board. China continues to generate strong growth; and South America and Europe are also seeing solid improvement."
"Another trend worth noting is the growing demand for leased engines," continued Willis. "Supply and demand conditions for engine lessors are probably more favorable than they have been at any time since early 2001. Lease rates are continuing to increase and lease terms are getting noticeably longer. In addition, it has been a long time since I saw so many purchase leaseback opportunities available in the marketplace."
Willis Lease Finance Monica J. Burke, 415-331-5281
• Friday the Thirteenth
Did you know: Friday got its name from a Norse deity worshipped on the sixth day – either Frigg (goddess of marriage and fertility) or Freya (goddess of sex and fertility) or both, the two having understandably been confused with one another over time.
It is said ... If 13 people sit down to dinner together, all will die within the year. The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary (Brewer, 1894). Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don't have a 13th floor. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil's luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names).
One of the more concrete early taboos connected with the number 13 is said to have started with the Hindus, who believed that it was always unlucky for 13 people to gather in one place – say, for dinner. Interestingly enough, exactly the same superstition has been attributed to the Vikings, though many scholars regard this and the accompanying mythological explanation as apocryphal. In any case, the story has been told as follows:
Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One, god of mischief, had been excluded from the guest list but chose to crash the party, bringing the total to 13. True to form, Loki raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder the Good, who happened to be a favorite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe offered by Loki and hurled it at Balder, killing him instantly. All of Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral of this story to be "Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe," the Norse themselves supposedly concluded that 13 people at a dinner party is just plain bad luck.
As if to prove the point, the Bible tells us that there were exactly 13 present at the Last Supper. One of the 13 went on to betray Jesus Christ, setting the stage for the crucifixion.
Did you know the crucifixion took place on a Friday?
Mortgage rates up; 30-year at 5.77% after 5 straight falls
Who's in Charge of Determining U.S. Interest Rates? It May Be Beijing
Retail sales rise by 1.4 percent in April, the strongest gain in six months
US trade gap plunges in March
April helps Dell profit jump 28%
“Gimme that Wine”
Texas Becomes 27th State to Allow Interstate, Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipments; Free the Grapes! Toasts Legislators' Overwhelming Support for Consumer Choice in Wine
Americans drink more costlier wine
Chateau Montelena to Auction 25-Year Vertical of Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot Fights Back; 120 Merlot Producers Band Together at the 6th Annual Merlot in May at Sterling Vineyards
Is 'Sideways' hero's hatred of merlot justified?
Parker cheerful about new biography
Top History Event Today
1846- Although fighting had begun days earlier, Congress officially declared war on -Mexico on this date. The struggle cost the lives of 11,300 American soldiers and resulted in the annexation by the US of land that became pads of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah and Colorado. The war ended in 1848.
This Day in American History
1607- The first permanent English settlement was established in Jamestown, VA. One hundred and five from Blackwell, England, on three ships. Most of them were 'gentlemen adventurers," gentlemen who did not work and brought servants. quite British, you know. Captains John Smith and Christopher Newport were among the leaders of the group of royally chartered Virginia Company settlers who had traveled from Plymouth, England, in three small ships: Susan Constant, Goodspeed and Discovery. The colony was named after England's King James I on this date.
Sign Near Bleachers Entrance
Written by Dan Zamudio, published in his book