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Found 7 results

  1. By Sarah Mulholland April 23 (Bloomberg) -- Loan extensions will likely be insufficient to prevent a wave of commercial real-estate defaults as borrowers struggle to refinance debt amid tighter lending standards and plummeting property values, according to Deutsche Bank AG analysts. As much as $1 trillion in commercial mortgages maturing during the next decade will be unable to secure financing without significant cash injections from property owners, according to the Deutsche analysts. At least two-thirds, or $410 billion, of commercial mortgages bundled and sold as bonds coming due between 2009 and 2018 will need additional cash infusions to refinance, the analysts led by Richard Parkus in New York said in a report yesterday. Many commercial real-estate borrowers will be unwilling or unable to put additional equity into the properties, and will have to negotiate to extend the loan or walk away from the property, the analysts said. The volume of potentially troubled loans and declining real-estate values will make loan extensions harder to obtain. “The scale of this issue is virtually unprecedented in commercial real estate, and its impact is likely to dominate the industry for the better part of a decade,” the analysts said. Many dismiss the seriousness of the problem by assuming lenders will agree to extend maturities, according to the report. That approach might work if the amount of loans that failed to refinance was relatively small, but the percentage is likely to be 60 to 70 percent, the analysts said. The overhang of distressed real estate will hinder price appreciation, making lenders less likely to extend mortgages with the expectation that the value of the property will rise enough to qualify for refinancing, the analysts said. Loans made in 2007 when prices peaked and underwriting standards bottomed will face the biggest hurdles to refinancing. Roughly 80 percent of commercial mortgages packaged into bonds in 2007 wouldn’t qualify for refinancing, according to Deutsche data.
  2. Trump Files Suit Against Lenders Developer Seeks to Extend $640 Million Loan on a Chicago Skyscraper Wsj.com By ALEX FRANGOS Tall Trouble: Donald Trump's Chicago skyscraper project, the Trump International Hotel & Tower, during construction in July. Mr. Trump is suing to extend a $640 million senior construction loan on the 92-story Trump International Hotel & Tower from a group of lenders led by Deutsche Bank AG and including a unit of Merrill Lynch & Co., Union Labor Life Insurance Co., iStar Financial Inc., a publicly traded real-estate investment trust, and Highland Funds, a unit of Highland Capital Management LP. The tower, which contains 339 hotel rooms and 486 condominiums, will be the second-tallest building in the U.S. behind Chicago's Sears Tower and is expected to be completed in mid-2009. The hotel, on the lower floors, opened earlier this year. But sales of both the hotel rooms and the condominiums have come in below original estimates and the project's current projected revenue remains short by nearly $100 million needed to pay off the senior lenders. The lawsuit, filed in New York State supreme court in Queens, is a further indication of the dysfunction in the real-estate lending markets as borrowers and lenders struggle to resolve troubled projects. People familiar with the matter say the lender group, which is made up of more than a dozen institutions, was unable to agree on the extension. The suit demands -- among other things -- that an extension provision in the original loan agreement be triggered because of the "unprecedented financial crisis in the credit markets now prevailing, in part due to acts Deutsche Bank itself participated in." This so-called force majeure provision is common in contracts and can be applied to acts of war and natural disasters. Mr. Trump already extended the loan once in May. From the Archives Mr. Trump asked for $3 billion in damages. The suit won't affect construction of the project, according to people familiar who say there is enough money to complete the $90 million work that is left. The suit says Mr. Trump attempted to resolve the impasse by offering to buy the project's unsold hotel units for $97 million. That money would be used to pay down the construction loan, along with the $204 million in proceeds from closed units and the $353 million that is expected from units that close in the next six months. A Deutsche Bank spokesman declined to comment. Mr. Trump has put $77 million of his own equity into the tower, which he would stand to lose in a potential foreclosure. Other than a $40 million guarantee to complete the project, Mr. Trump has no recourse obligations to the project. A Trump spokesman declined to comment. [Trump, Donald] Deutsche Bank originated the construction loan in 2005 and sold off most of it to others, retaining less than $10 million of exposure on that loan. The suit alleges that Deutsche Bank compromised the senior construction loan by selling pieces off to "so many institutions, banks, junk bond firms, and virtually anybody that seemed to come along," that the lending group is unable to come to a consensus on how to deal with the matter. It also alleges Deutsche Bank created a "serious conflict of interest" by taking a separate stake in the project's so-called mezzanine loan that was originated by private-equity firm Fortress Investment Group. The mezzanine loan, which is junior to the senior construction loan, had an original principal of $130 million but will eventually accrue to $360 million. Deutsche Bank purchased roughly one-quarter of the mezzanine loan, according to people familiar with the matter. The suit names the mezzanine lenders as defendants, including Fortress and its affiliates, Newcastle Investment Corp. and Drawbridge Special Opportunities Fund, as well as Dune Capital Management and Blackacre Institutional Capital Management, the real-estate arm of Cerberus Capital Management. Fortress didn't respond to a request for comment. The other lenders declined to comment. Unless sales of the condo and hotel units restart despite the worst housing market in generations, and quickly generate $400 million in new sales, it will be difficult for the project to pay off the mezzanine loan, which comes due in May 2009.
  3. Ottawa voit grand Mise à jour le lundi 26 avril 2010 à 23 h 49 Photo: La Presse Canadienne /Adrian Wyld Le ministre conservateur, Peter Van Loan. (archives) Le ministre fédéral du Commerce international, Peter Van Loan, a indiqué à la Presse canadienne que les négociations entre le Canada et l'Union européenne (UE) pourraient mener à un pacte plus élaboré encore que l'Accord de libre-échange nord-américain (ALÉNA). Ce que nous recherchons, c'est l'entente commerciale la plus ambitieuse que nous ayons jamais conclue. — Le ministre Peter Van Loan Selon le négociateur en chef du Canada, Steve Verheul, les négociations en vue de conclure l'Accord économique et commercial global (AECG) progressent bien. Les deux parties en sont à la troisième ronde de pourparlers, et deux autres ont été planifiées. Le ministre Van Loan souhaite que l'accord soit entériné d'ici la fin de 2011. La délégation canadienne compte quelque 60 personnes. À la demande de l'UE, des représentants des provinces canadiennes en font partie en tant que partenaires à part entière. Selon Scott Sinclair, un chercheur pour le Centre canadien de politiques alternatives, les délégués européens souhaitent notamment éliminer le système de régulation de l'offre dans les secteurs des produits laitiers et de la volaille, et la Commission canadienne du blé. En retour, croit-il, le Canada pourrait exporter une plus grande quantité de matières premières en Europe. Un marché important L'ancien ministre libéral John Manley, maintenant à la tête du Conseil canadien des chefs d'entreprise, fait observer que le Canada a besoin de diversifier son commerce international et que dans ce contexte, une entente avec l'Union européenne, dont l'économie ressemble à celle du Canada, pourrait générer d'intéressantes retombées. Le gouvernement canadien estime que l'entente ferait bondir le produit intérieur brut (PIB) du Canada de 12 milliards de dollars d'ici 2014. En 2008, les exportations canadiennes en Europe se sont chiffrées à 52 milliards de dollars, un montant plutôt modeste compte tenu de la taille du marché. L'Union européenne, un marché d'un demi-milliard d'habitants répartis dans 27 pays, a un PIB de 19 milliards de dollars. Le premier ministre du Québec, Jean Charest, est un ardent défenseur d'un accord de libre-échange entre le Canada et l'Union européenne. http://www.radio-canada.ca/nouvelles/Economie/2010/04/26/014-canada-ue-pacte.shtml Pour ceux qui ne savent pas ce qu'est le système de régulation de l'offre dans le secteur des produits laitiers, en bref c'est ce qui fait en sorte que vous payez vos produits laitiers beaucoup trop chers, beaucoup plus cher qu'aux USA, puisque les prix sont artificiellement gonflés pour subventionner les producteurs laitiers (qui sont millionnaires soit dit en passant).
  4. Construction loan on hold for Waterview Tower By Alby Gallun, Nov. 05, 2008 (Crain) — About seven months after agreeing to finance the 90-story Waterview Tower and Shangri-La Hotel, the Export-Import Bank of China has gotten cold feet over the stalled Wacker Drive development. The Waterview Tower and Shangri-La Hotel at 111 W. Wacker Drive remains unfinished. The bank’s refusal to approve a $400-million construction loan for the condominium-and-hotel high-rise reduces the already slim chances that the building’s current developer, a group led by Teng & Associates Inc. President and CEO Ivan Dvorak, will be able to finish the luxury project. And it increases the odds that Bank of America Corp. will move to foreclose on the property at 111 W. Wacker Drive. The Export-Import Bank has put the financing on hold until the U.S. economy improves and it sees “signs that there is a market for the condominiums,” says Zac Henson, CEO of the U.S. subsidiary of Beijing Construction Engineering Group Ltd., which was arranging the loan. While that could be a very long time, he stopped short of saying the loan had been denied. “We’re not pushing rewind, we’re not pushing eject, we’re just pushing pause,” Mr. Henson says. “I certainly think that the for-sale condo market in the U.S. needs to rebound” for the bank to reconsider the loan. The bank’s decision leaves Mr. Dvorak in a tough spot. He has been courting equity partners for the $500-million project for some time, and more recently has been trying to sell off its hotel, condo and parking components separately, according to people familiar with the development. Under one scenario, the developer would finish the hotel and sell the rights to build the condos later, when the condo market recovers. But running a luxury hotel while construction is under way on the building’s upper floors would be extremely disruptive and a potential deal-killer. Another option: Convert the current structure, a 26-story concrete shell, into apartments. “They’re looking for anything, any option for a transaction,” says one person aware of Mr. Dvorak’s plans. Mr. Dvorak and Teng executive Sean McMahon did not return phone calls for comment. Unlike most developers, who don’t break ground until they get a construction loan, Mr. Dvorak and his partners financed the early construction of the Waterview project with their own money, betting that they could secure a loan later. They took out a $20-million bridge loan from Chicago-based LaSalle Bank N.A. in February 2007, but financing sources started to dry up several months later as the credit markets froze. With U.S. banks halting most construction lending, Mr. Dvorak looked overseas for a savior and seemed to have found one in April, when the Export-Import Bank said it would finance the project. But as the loan approval process dragged on and panic gripped the financial markets this fall, the financing looked increasingly shaky. LaSalle has already extended its loan once, but the bank’s new owner, Bank of America, probably won’t be as patient given the project’s dimming prospects. The loan has yet to be transferred to Bank of America’s workout group, but it may be only a matter of time before the bank files a foreclosure suit, say the people familiar with the project. A bank spokesman declines to comment. Construction firms walked off the job several months ago, and liens for unpaid bills from them have been piling up. The list of firms that are owed money include Teng, a Chicago-based architecture and engineering firm, and its affiliates, which together have filed liens on the project for more than $32 million. Buyers have signed contracts for 156, or 67%, of the residential condos in the building, according to Chicago-based consulting firm Appraisal Research Counselors. With an average price of more than $800 a square foot, the condos are among the most expensive in new buildings in the city. The tower’s 200 hotel units are also being sold off individually as condos; buyers have signed contracts for 80 of the condo-hotel units, or 40%, according to Appraisal Research. Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, the Hong Kong-based luxury hotel chain that would run the hotel, remains committed to the development, according to an executive. The developer “has fulfilled its obligations to us,” says Shangri-La Regional Vice-president Stephen Darling. “We’re excited about the project and we hope that everything will materialize as it should.”
  5. Article January 14, 2011 By KEITH BRADSHER BEIJING — Aided by at least $43 million in assistance from the government of Massachusetts and an innovative solar energy technology, Evergreen Solar emerged in the last three years as the third-largest maker of solar panels in the United States. But now the company is closing its main American factory, laying off the 800 workers by the end of March and shifting production to a joint venture with a Chinese company in central China. Evergreen cited the much higher government support available in China. The factory closing in Devens, Mass., which Evergreen announced earlier this week, has set off political recriminations and finger-pointing in Massachusetts. And it comes just as President Hu Jintao of China is scheduled for a state visit next week to Washington, where the agenda is likely to include tensions between the United States and China over trade and energy policy. The Obama administration has been investigating whether China has violated the free trade rules of the World Trade Organization with its extensive subsidies to the manufacturers of solar panels and other clean energy products. While a few types of government subsidies are permitted under international trade agreements, they are not supposed to give special advantages to exports — something that China’s critics accuse it of doing. The Chinese government has strongly denied that any of its clean energy policies have violated W.T.O. rules. Although solar energy still accounts for only a tiny fraction of American power production, declining prices and concerns about global warming give solar power a prominent place in United States plans for a clean energy future — even if critics say the federal government is still not doing enough to foster its adoption. Beyond the issues of trade and jobs, solar power experts see broader implications. They say that after many years of relying on unstable governments in the Middle East for oil, the United States now looks likely to rely on China to tap energy from the sun. Evergreen, in announcing its move to China, was unusually candid about its motives. Michael El-Hillow, the chief executive, said in a statement that his company had decided to close the Massachusetts factory in response to plunging prices for solar panels. World prices have fallen as much as two-thirds in the last three years — including a drop of 10 percent during last year’s fourth quarter alone. Chinese manufacturers, Mr. El-Hillow said in the statement, have been able to push prices down sharply because they receive considerable help from the Chinese government and state-owned banks, and because manufacturing costs are generally lower in China. “While the United States and other Western industrial economies are beneficiaries of rapidly declining installation costs of solar energy, we expect the United States will continue to be at a disadvantage from a manufacturing standpoint,” he said. Even though Evergreen opened its Devens plant, with all new equipment, only in 2008, it began talks with Chinese companies in early 2009. In September 2010, the company opened its factory in Wuhan, China, and will now rely on that operation. An Evergreen spokesman said Mr. El-Hillow was not available to comment for this article. Other solar panel manufacturers are also struggling in the United States. Solyndra, a Silicon Valley business, received a visit from President Obama in May and a $535 million federal loan guarantee, only to say in November that it was shutting one of its two American plants and would delay expansion of the other. First Solar, an American company, is one of the world’s largest solar power vendors. But most of its products are made overseas. Chinese solar panel manufacturers accounted for slightly over half the world’s production last year. Their share of the American market has grown nearly sixfold in the last two years, to 23 percent in 2010 and is still rising fast, according to GTM Research, a renewable energy market analysis firm in Cambridge, Mass. In addition to solar energy, China just passed the United States as the world’s largest builder and installer of wind turbines. The closing of the Evergreen factory has prompted finger-pointing in Massachusetts. Ian A. Bowles, the former energy and environment chief for Gov. Deval L. Patrick, a Democrat who pushed for the solar panel factory to be located in Massachusetts, said the federal government had not helped the American industry enough or done enough to challenge Chinese government subsidies for its industry. Evergreen has received no federal money. “The federal government has brought a knife to a gun fight,” Mr. Bowles said. “Its support is completely out of proportion to the support displayed by China — and even to that in Europe.” Stephanie Mueller, the Energy Department press secretary, said the department was committed to supporting renewable energy. “Through our Loan Program Office we have offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees to 16 clean energy projects totaling nearly $16.5 billion,” she said. “We have finalized and closed half of those loan guarantees, and the program has ramped up significantly over the last year to move projects through the process quickly and efficiently while protecting taxpayer interests.” Evergreen did not try to go through the long, costly process of obtaining a federal loan because of what it described last summer as signals from the department that its technology was too far along and not in need of research and development assistance. The Energy Department has a policy of not commenting on companies that do not apply. Evergreen was selling solar panels made in Devens for $3.39 a watt at the end of 2008 and planned to cut its costs to $2 a watt by the end of last year — a target it met. But Evergreen found that by the end of the fourth quarter, it could fetch only $1.90 a watt for its Devens-made solar panels, while Chinese manufacturers were selling them for as little as $1 a watt. Evergreen’s joint-venture factory in Wuhan occupies a long, warehouselike concrete building in an industrial park located in an inauspicious neighborhood. A local employee said the municipal police had used the site for mass executions into the 1980s. When a reporter was given a rare tour inside the building just before it began mass production in September, the operation appeared as modern as any in the world. Row after row of highly automated equipment stretched toward the two-story-high ceiling in an immaculate, brightly lighted white hall. Chinese technicians closely watched the computer screens monitoring each step in the production processes. In a telephone interview in August, Mr. El-Hillow said that he was desperate to avoid layoffs at the Devens factory. But he said Chinese state-owned banks and municipal governments were offering unbeatable assistance to Chinese solar panel companies. Factory labor is cheap in China, where monthly wages average less than $300. That compares to a statewide average of more than $5,400 a month for Massachusetts factory workers. But labor is a tiny share of the cost of running a high-tech solar panel factory, Mr. El-Hillow said. China’s real advantage lies in the ability of solar panel companies to form partnerships with local governments and then obtain loans at very low interest rates from state-owned banks. Evergreen, with help from its partners — the Wuhan municipal government and the Hubei provincial government — borrowed two-thirds of the cost of its Wuhan factory from two Chinese banks, at an interest rate that under certain conditions could go as low as 4.8 percent, Mr. El-Hillow said in August. Best of all, no principal payments or interest payments will be due until the end of the loan in 2015. By contrast, a $21 million grant from Massachusetts covered 5 percent of the cost of the Devens factory, and the company had to borrow the rest from banks, Mr. El-Hillow said. Banks in the United States were reluctant to provide the rest of the money even at double-digit interest rates, partly because of the financial crisis. “Therein lies the hidden advantage of being in China,” Mr. El-Hillow said. Devens, as the site of a former military base, is a designated enterprise zone eligible for state financial support. State Senator Jamie Eldridge, a Democrat whose district includes Devens, said he was initially excited for Evergreen to come to his district, but even before the announced loss of 800 jobs, he had come to oppose such large corporate assistance. “I think there’s been a lot of hurt feelings over these subsidies to companies, while a lot of communities around the former base have not seen development money,” he said. Michael McCarthy, a spokesman for Evergreen, said the company had already met 80 percent of the grant’s job creation target by employing up to 800 factory workers since 2008 and should owe little money to the state. Evergreen also retains about 100 research and administrative jobs in Massachusetts. The company also received about $22 million in tax credits, and it will discuss those with Massachusetts, he said. Evergreen has had two unique problems that made its Devens factory vulnerable to Chinese competition. It specializes in an unusual kind of wafer, making it hard to share research and development costs with other companies. And it was hurt when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in 2008; Evergreen lost one-seventh of its outstanding shares in a complex transaction involving convertible notes. But many other Western solar power companies are also running into trouble, as competition from China coincides with uncertainty about the prices at which Western regulators will let solar farms sell electricity to national grids. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, shares in solar companies fell an average of 26 percent last year. Evergreen’s stock, which traded above $100 in late 2007, closed Friday in New York at $3.03. Tom Zeller Jr. in New York and Katie Zezima in Boston contributed reporting.
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