Daily Report

This Afternoon's Headlines / Tue, July 30, 2013

Perkins Rowe lender going after Spinosa’s ownership in chilled water company

Lenders in the Perkins Rowe case are asking the court to let them seize and sell developer Tommy Spinosa’s ownership interest in Central Facilities, which owns the plant that supplies chilled water for the tenants’ air conditioning system at the mixed-use development. In court documents filed Monday, an attorney for Ohio-based KeyBank National Associates says the bank is entitled to seize the water plant—which observers have characterized as Spinosa’s ace in the hole during his four-year-long foreclosure battle with lenders—because it doesn’t think a foreclosure sale of the property will yield enough to satisfy the $200 million judgment it was awarded in September 2012. That sale is scheduled for Aug. 28. Attorneys for Spinosa are asking the court to give them until Aug. 6 to file written objections to the seizure motion, noting in a filing of their own that "KeyBank seeks overly broad relief to which it is not entitled under the law.” In an unrelated development, oral arguments scheduled for Aug. 6 in the appeal of the Perkins Rowe case will not be held next week. Earlier this month, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals notified attorneys that the three-judge panel to which the case has been assigned has determined that oral argument will not be required and that “counsel need not appear for argument.” A document filed in the court record goes on to state “the case will be decided in due course on the record and briefs on file.” A spokeswoman for KeyBank says the lender agrees with the panel’s decision, though declines to comment further or speculate on what it might mean. —Stephanie Riegel

First Mooyah burger franchise in Louisiana to open in Baton Rouge

Plano, Texas-based fast casual burger chain Mooyah has more than 50 restaurants in nearly a dozen states, but you won't find one in Louisiana. That's about to change, starting on Siegen Lane in Baton Rouge. "We're looking to have it open by the middle to the end of September," says franchisee Chuck Kerr, who is opening the restaurant in a 2,600-square-foot space in the new Siegen Place development at 6555 Siegen Lane with his wife, Denise. It will be the first of potentially many Mooyah restaurants in Louisiana, Kerr says, with other franchisees planning to open in Lafayette, Mandeville, Metairie, Monroe and New Orleans. Kerr and his wife moved to Baton Rouge from the Dallas area earlier this month to open and operate the local franchise. Kerr formerly operated a few Subway franchises in the 1990s and says the Mooyah franchise appealed to him because of its focus on freshness. "Everything is fresh. We bake our own bread. The burgers are never frozen. Our shakes are made with 100% ice cream," he says. "We like Baton Rouge for the first location because the economy is strong here and the city just seems to be growing and growing—and especially along the Siegen Lane area. We think it will be a good fit." —Steve Sanoski

Maginnis: Politics challenges historic lawsuit

"Louisiana politicians, beware, this is what happens when you establish in the constitution an independent and apolitical board of experts empowered to take legal action to protect the lives and property within its jurisdiction, namely, the South Louisiana Flood Protection Authority –East," writes Louisiana political commentator John Maginnis in his weekly column. "The little levee board that could has rattled the crystal in boardrooms around the globe by filing a mammoth, historic lawsuit against 97 oil companies. It demands they repair the damage done from decades of digging, dredging and drilling in the coastal marshes that form the New Orleans region's first line of defense against hurricanes. The suit came as a surprise to the industry that, for all its risk analysis, had to know it was coming, some day. Nonetheless, the flood protection board came under immediate criticism for having worked sub rosa with its lawyers for months without public discussion or collaboration with the Jindal administration, legislators or the West Bank flood authority. The response of Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry could be likened to the drilling rig that blew its top in the Gulf the same week. The firestorm reaction confirmed to authority board members the wisdom of getting to the courthouse before the combined political forces could strike against them." Read the rest of the column.

(John Maginnis publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow on Twitter here.)

'Real Estate Weekly': Land bought for high-end Denham Springs subdivision

Brad Roberts, a Baton Rouge developer and investor, has acquired a 125-acre parcel along scenic 4H Club Road in Denham Springs for $874,000 and plans to sell more than half the property to developers for a high-end subdivision. Roberts—whose Land Hawks LLC acquired the property late Monday from three Livingston Parish families—will keep 61 acres for future development. He plans to sell the other 64 acres to River Ridge Development, a local homebuilding and development group that has plans to build high-end homes starting at around $500,000 on 14 lots ranging in size from 2 to 5 acres each. Roberts says he's not sure yet what he wants to do with his 61-acre parcel, but he feels the area has tremendous potential. "It's a very nice area and long-term could be commercial or more residential," he says. Roberts says Land Hawks owns several other properties and is interested in additional investing and developing in the Capital Region. —Stephanie Riegel Read all of the new Real Estate Weekly e-newsletter.

Louisiana will get nearly one-third of 800 Entergy layoffs

Entergy Corp. says it plans to cut 800 jobs—nearly one-third of them in Louisiana, where the bulk of its employees live. Spokesman Chanel Lagarde says layoffs have begun and should be completed this year, adding Entergy is committed to keeping its headquarters in New Orleans. Lagarde says 240 Louisiana job cuts include about 160 in the New Orleans area. That's about 6% of Entergy's metro-area jobs and 5% statewide. Louisiana layoffs make up 30% of the total. Arkansas would lose about 165 jobs, Texas 115 and New York 110. Most states would lose 4% to 6% of their Entergy workers; Texas would lose about 10%. Mississippi stands to lose 80 jobs, while Massachusetts, Michigan and Vermont will lose about 30 each. Entergy Corp. also announced today that its second-quarter net income of $163.7 million was off 55%, weighed down by higher expenses and absent a favorable tax ruling received during the prior-year period. The job cuts, which amount to roughly 5% of its 15,000 total employees, are part of a reorganziation plan aimed at saving $200 million to $250 million by 2016, Entergy says. —Staff report

New B.R. police chief to be announced Wednesday morning

Mayor Kip Holden has made his choice for Baton Rouge's next police chief and he'll announce who it is at a press conference set for 10 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall. Holden narrowed down the candidates to three finalists last week: Provisional Chief Carl Dabadie, Capt. Carl K. Dunn and Capt. Noel J. Salamoni. Dunn and Salamoni reportedly outscored Dabadie by one point on the civil service exam, but Dabadie—whose father served in the department and was killed in the line of duty—has been widely viewed as the front-runner to succeed former Police Chief Dewayne White. Each finalist has a different approach to law enforcement, Holden said in discussing the finalists last week, "but overall all of them have the betterment of the Police Department and public safety" in mind. The department has more than 600 officers. The three finalists were selected from a list of 11 candidates who passed the civil service exam May 22. In a departure from previous police chief searches, Holden did not rely on an advisory committee to assist in this search. —Staff report

News roundup: Obamacare mandate delay costs $12 billion, cuts insurance coverage … Millions in U.S. subsidies go to dead farmers … Speculation about new Apple products kicks into overdrive

Rising costs: The price tag of Obamacare has just gone up by $12 billion, due to the White House's decision to delay the employer mandate until 2015. The Washington Post reports the vast majority of that increase—$10 billion—reflects a reduction in the penalties that the government would have collected from employers who did not comply with the requirement to provide health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office, which released the new estimate today, also expects more Americans to access federal subsidies purchasing coverage on the new marketplaces.

The check's in the mail: The federal government pays millions of dollars in farm subsidies each year to farmers who have died, because the Agriculture Department lacks the proper controls to make sure the money it sends is going to the right people, a government audit has found. The Natural Resources Conservation Service, which oversees the Agriculture Department's conservation programs, sent out $10.6 million in payments between 2008 and 2012 to more than 1,000 people who had been dead for more than a year, according to the report. Another agency paid $22 million to 3,400 policyholders who had been dead for at least two years. The New York Times has the full story.

At the edge of their seats: For Apple fans and investors, the future can't get here fast enough. As the Los Angeles Times reports, chatter about what revolutionary products the company has cooking in its laboratories is incessant and often overblown. But anticipation that, finally, Apple is about to launch something big this fall has kicked into overdrive in recent days thanks to two separate but possibly related developments. Read the full story.

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