Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Movement Mortgage names Laura Bowles as CFO

Laura Bowles, daughter-in-law of former University of North Carolina system president Erskine Bowles, has been named chief financial officer of Movement Mortgage.

The company made the announcement Wednesday, although Bowles' first day was March 1.

Bowles becomes the first CFO for the company, which was co-founded in Charlotte in 2008 by ex-Carolina Panther Casey Crawford. Before her hire, Crawford, the company's CEO, said he had been handling CFO duties.

Bowles is a former executive for Citibank, where she was director and head of consumer and small business lending products. She has also worked as a risk manager for Bank of America and as a chief financial officer for Wachovia.

Bowles' hire comes as Crawford is pushing for the company to become the largest privately held mortgage lender in the U.S. Over the next 10 years, Crawford expects Movement Mortgage to be closing one out of every 10 loans for home purchases, he said.

The company is now headquartered in Virginia Beach, Va., and has roughly 1,200 employees. Approximately 250 are in Charlotte, Crawford said.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bank of Commerce earnings hit by preferred stock repricing

Charlotte-based Bank of Commerce's net income to shareholders fell in the first quarter despite loan and deposit growth as preferred stock originally stemming from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program became more expensive.

The bank's net income to shareholders fell to $62,000, down 10 percent from the year before. Before the impact of Bank of Commerce's preferred stock payments, however, net income rose 15 percent to $135,000.

The preferred stock became more expensive as a function of how the U.S. Treasury structured the federal bank bailout program in 2008 and 2009. The government required an annual interest payment that would jump from 5 percent to 9 percent after five years. That time period has now arrived for most of the community banks who still have the investments on their books.

The price change remains in effect even if the bank's preferred stock has been sold to private investors. Bank of Commerce's TARP investment was auctioned off in 2012.

Last month, Bank of Commerce agreed to be sold to Asheville's HomeTrust Bancshares. CEO Wes Sturges cited regulatory pressure and the impending repricing of the preferred stock as factors.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Richmond Fed has new Charlotte board member

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System named a new member to its Charlotte board of directors on Monday.

Laura Clark will serve a term that runs until Dec. 31, 2015. Clark is executive director of Renaissance West Community Initiative, a Charlotte-based nonprofit revitalizing the old Boulevard Homes on the west side of Charlotte.

Clark fills the seat that had been held by David Zimmerman, president of Charlotte-based Southern Shows Inc., a trade and exposition management company. Zimmerman's term expired Dec. 31.

The Charlotte board of directors falls under the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, which also has a Baltimore branch and board of directors.

The boards of the Baltimore and Charlotte branches each have seven members, three of whom are appointed by the Board of Governors and four by the directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

U.S. attorney presses on with BofA case

Two weeks after a magistrate judge recommended dismissal of a U.S. mortgage securities case against Bank of America, federal prosecutors in Charlotte filed a motion asking for the recommendation to be set aside.

The case involves a pool of prime mortgages Bank of America packaged and sold to investors. The U.S. Attorneys Office for the Western District of North Carolina filed suit in August claiming the Charlotte bank misled its clients on how risky the loans really were.

A magistrate judge ruled in late March that the laws the government sued under didn't apply in the case. In Thursday's filing, prosecutors argue that the judge's decision contains errors. The U.S. attorney's office also points out that the merits of the case haven't been ruled on.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Chanticleer Holdings to buy building for 6th South African Hooters

Charlotte investment company Chanticleer Holdings said it has entered into an agreement to buy a building that will become its sixth Hooters location in South Africa.

The company made the disclosure in a regulatory filing this week.

Chanticleer said its subsidiary, Hooters SA, entered into the agreement to buy the 15,446 building from Leverage Trust. The purchase price is 5 million rand, the currency in South Africa. As of Wednesday, that amounted to about $481,025.

Closing of the purchase is expected to occur in eight to 10 weeks.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Report: On percentage basis, BofA dividend growth leads

Bank of America's dividend is a far cry from what it was before the financial crisis.

But the bank's announcement last month that it is raising the quarterly payout from a meager 1 cent to 5 cents puts it among stocks that will see the largest dividend jumps on a percentage basis this year, says Forbes, citing a report from financial information firm Markit.

The Charlotte-based bank, Starwood Hotels and construction material producer Vulcan Materials are among stocks poised to hike their dividends by 200 percent or more.

Of course, with Bank of America's dividend starting so low, it doesn't take much of an increase to equate to a large percentage growth.  

Last month, Bank of America announced plans to increase its dividend for the first time since the financial crisis. The news came after the bank won approval for the dividend increase from the Federal Reserve.

Like other major banks in the wake of the crisis, Bank of America must receive approval each year from the Fed before raising its dividend or buying back stocks. The Fed in 2011 rejected the bank’s plan for a dividend increase in the second half of that year. Until this year's request, that was the only time since the crisis that the bank asked the Fed for a dividend hike.

Even at 5 cents per quarter, Bank of America's dividend is small when compared with that of its peer banks. For example, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo said last month the Fed has OK'd its plan to raise its quarterly dividend from 30 cents a share to 35 cents.

Many longtime Bank of America shareholders remain frustrated that the bank's dividend has been so low since the crisis. As recently as 2008, the quarterly dividend was 64 cents per share.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Chanticleer Holdings' settlement with investors in federal court's hands

An $850,000 class-action settlement agreement involving Chanticleer Holdings and investors who claimed the company misled them has been filed in federal court, according to documents released Friday

The Charlotte-based investment company, which owns and operates restaurants, including Hooters, said a motion seeking preliminary approval for the cash settlement was filed Monday in U.S. district court in south Florida.

The accord would resolve claims stemming from an investor lawsuit filed over a June 2012 offering of 2.4 million Chanticleer shares. The suit says Chanticleer misled investors in offering documents for the securities by claiming that financial statements for its South African Hooters operations had been audited.

Three months later, in September 2012, Chanticleer informed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that financial statements for the South African operations had not been audited. Nasdaq then halted trading of the Chanticleer's stock, “rendering it nearly worthless,” the lawsuit says.

Settlement negotiations began in December, according to securities filings. Under the settlement's terms, Chanticleer’s insurer, XL Specialty Insurance Co., will pay $837,500. Chanticleer's accounting firm, Creason & Associates, which audited financial statements used in the 2012 stock offering, will pay $12,500.

“We are pleased with this agreement, which will put this matter behind us, so that we may focus our attention on growth,” Mike Pruitt, CEO of Chanticleer Holdings, said in a statement.