This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Now Email Address* Bank OZK CEO George Gleason (Unsplash; Bank OZK)New York’s commercial real estate market has been pummeled by the pandemic, but one of its biggest condo construction lenders reported almost no write-downs in the third quarter.On its earnings call Friday, Arkansas-based Bank OZK reported that its net charge-off rate, or ratio of loans written-down to total loans originated, was 0.09 percent. That is well below the industry average of 0.52 percent, the bank said.It also has a number of loans that are being deferred, potentially signaling distress down the line.Read moreTrouble in the land of OZK: Why NYC’s most important construction lender may be on shaky groundBank OZK still making condo construction loans despite pandemic Message* Full Name* The company’s net income for the third quarter was $109.3 million, a 5.2 percent increase from $103.9 million last year. It also reported that its overall lending increased 9.2 percent to $19.36 billion this year, up from $17.7 billion in the third quarter of 2019.Since the last recession, Bank OZK, formerly known as Bank of the Ozarks, has become one of the largest issuers of condo loans in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, working with developers like JDS Development, Starwood Capital, and Square Mile Capital. Those include a $558 million loan to Jules Trump’s Estates at Acqualina condo project in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, which it issued in 2018.The bank reported two major write-downs in the third quarter of 2018, causing its stock price to drop 24 percent. Since then, it hasn’t reported any major markdowns of its loans.The bank said it has been getting repaid on its loans even as the broader economy is dealing with fallout from the pandemic. George Gleason, Bank OZK’s CEO and chairman, said that contracts are being signed at condo projects it has lent on in New York City.“We are pretty optimistic on the long-term prognosis of New York,” he said. “It is just going to come back slower.”Based on the bank’s appraisals, valuations of its properties (which include condos, multifamily buildings, hotels and retail) haven’t changed much since the pandemic began. Of the 22 loans it reappraised, 17 saw their loan-to-value ratio remain unchanged. On four loans, it increased more than 5 percent, and decreased more than 5 percent on one loan, according to Bank OZK’s management comments.Bank OZK had a balance of 583 deferred loans totaling $550 million, or about 2.8 percent of the balance of its total loans in the third quarter. With its real estate loans, the bank said it is asking borrowers to put down more payments in its future reserves.“We said we will do three months of extensions, but you’re going to have to put up the other three months and rebalance the reserves so that it’s not a problem,” Gleason said during the call.Prior to the pandemic, the bank’s construction lending slowed down due to increased competition from debt funds and nonbank lenders. But since the pandemic began the bank has kept on lending, including a $59 million construction loan for a condo project in Miami Beach. In its second-quarter earnings call, the bank said it was eyeing lending opportunities in the multifamily sector.The regional bank has attracted its share of detractors and short-sellers who claimed that it was being too aggressive outside of its home market, especially in construction lending, which is generally viewed as risky. The bank also shed its holding company, which allowed it to stop filing quarterly and annual reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and removing its oversight by the Federal Reserve.Contact Keith Larsen
Secretary of State for European Affairs Alexander Chaliy admitted this week that Kiev’s relations with the EU could enter a “grey area” of uncertainty unless Brussels takes the initiative now to signal a new spirit of cooperation with the country.Although Ukraine’s existing partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) with the Union is not due to expire until 2007, Chaliy argues that work on its replacement must start now and that its status should be upgraded to an ‘association’ agreement.This is normally seen as the precursor to a country becoming a formal applicant to join the EU. Chaliy believes Ukraine’s aim to become an associate member of the Union is realistic. He cites moderate enthusiasm expressed recently by Rome and Berlin and is cautiously optimistic about the cross-border implications of enlargement.Whereas it can currently take travellers up to two hours to cross through the heavily-policed checkpoint on the Ukraine-Polish border, “after Poland enforces the Schengen regime [post enlargement], the crossing should take hardly five minutes…provided we adopt the same professional culture which is typical for the present day German-Polish frontier”, said Chaliy.He added: “If Ukraine makes serious headway in adjusting its own legislation and fighting cross-border crime, then it will legitimately expect to enjoy a most favoured regime status.”Ukraine is currently gearing up for its parliamentary elections (half proportional and half direct) on 31 March.The eventual winners are likely to be either the centre-right Our Ukraine party or the far-left Communists. “Any new agreement or major strategy document will have to be ratified by 20 or more member states,” said Chaliy.“This is a lengthy procedure, likely to take at least four years.“If we want to ensure legal continuity, we need to have a new agreement replacing the current PCA already in place by 2004-2005,” he said.The comments reflect a new mood in Ukraine. President Leonid Kuchma declared recently that his strategic goal is full integration into the EU.But the country’s slow pace of reforms and concerns over human rights abuses mean that is an unlikely prospect in the short term.Nevertheless, Brussels has demonstrated that it wants to keep Kiev engaged in EU affairs.
None of the cameras picked up a group of four white men that matched Bernstein’s descriptions, the reports said. “Althea Bernstein and her family appreciate the detailed investigative efforts by all involved this case,” the statement said. “Althea’s injuries are healing and the support of our community has been invaluable in that regard. We continue to maintain our family privacy and will not be granting interviews at this time.” FBI Joins Investigation after WI EMT is Attacked, BurnedProtecting EMS Personnel from AssaultPennsylvania EMTs, Paramedics Push for Stricter Assault Prosecutions But footage does show her in Middleton, a suburb about 15 minutes from downtown Madison, just before 1 a.m. GPS data from her phone corroborates that as her location, the reports said. “She stated, “˜I know what happened to me,’” Harris wrote. Harris told Bernstein’s attorney, Andrea Sumpter, during a meeting Tuesday that no one planned to file any charges against Bernstein, saying there’s no evidence she colluded with anyone to make a false report and there was no evidence she was involved in any of the destruction during the protest. She drove away, put out the flames, and was treated for burns at a hospital, she said. Detectives were unable to find any surveillance video that shows the alleged attack taking place, but they did find footage indicating the woman wasn’t in the city at the time she says she was attacked, according to investigative reports. An arson dog found no trace of a lighter or other incendiary device in her car and investigators found the car wasn’t damaged. Tests did reveal a substance consistent with lighter fluid on her shirt, however, and her medical records indicate she was treated for burns hours after the attack allegedly happened. MADISON, Wis. (AP) – There’s not enough evidence to prove that a group of white men set a young biracial woman on fire during a chaotic night of protests in Wisconsin’s capital city this summer, federal prosecutors said Friday. When confronted by Detective Justine Harris in August, Bernstein said she didn’t understand why there wasn’t any evidence of the attack. She said she was worried about what might happen when the reports were made public, saying she had been threatened on social media and that investigators were treating her like a suspect. Photo/Madison Police The alleged assault came during a night of violence that included the toppling of two statues outside the Capitol and an attack on a state senator. A group of up to 300 people protested the arrest of a Black man after he shouted at restaurant customers through a megaphone while carrying a baseball bat. The statement said investigators conducted extensive interviews as well as an exhaustive review of traffic and surveillance cameras as well as digital and forensic evidence, and couldn’t establish that the attack occurred. According to investigative documents, Bernstein told the responding officer she is Hispanic and Black. Madison police on Friday released more than 150 pages of reports detailing the investigation. Traffic and surveillance camera footage shows Bernstein’s vehicle stopped only once and that no one was around the car. The footage also shows that her window was closed throughout and that she was traveling in the right lane, not the left as she told investigators. Althea Bernstein, 18, told police she was attacked by four white men while driving through a protest in downtown Madison around 1 a.m. on June 24. Bernstein said she was stopped at a red light when she heard someone yell a racial slur and one of the men sprayed her with lighter fluid through her open window and threw a flaming lighter at her, setting her neck and face on fire. Bernstein’s family issued a three-sentence statement through the Madison Police Department saying they appreciate investigators’ work. Someone also threw a Molotov cocktail into a government building and attempted to break into the Capitol, only to be repelled by pepper spray from police stationed inside. The violence prompted Gov. Tony Evers to activate the National Guard to protect state properties. Madison Acting Police Chief Vic Wahl issued his own statement, saying detectives were unable to “locate evidence consistent with what was reported.” Harris told Sumpter that Bernstein had clearly suffered injuries to her face and that detectives were interested in whether someone else had hurt her in a different way than she had alleged. Related Sumpter said she had no alternative information from Bernstein or her family about how she was burned and “acknowledged that there can be many reasons why a victim might not want to be forthcoming about who caused injuries,” Harris wrote. A team of federal, state and local investigators probed the allegations as a possible hate crime. On Friday, the U.S. attorney’s office in Madison issued a statement saying the investigation was closed without charges filed. Sumpter didn’t immediately respond to messages Friday.
ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr I’m a dog guy. I had one growing up. We got one for the family almost four years ago. Since then Mazy has been a big part of our lives. She’s a happy dog, always wants to play, is willing to fetch a tennis ball for as long as my arm holds out throwing it and has been a blessing to our family since we got her as a puppy. She looks like a lab, but is a pure mutt.In my pursuit of interesting blog topics, I started thinking about how a mortgage loan originator could be memberlicious by acting like a dog. Here’s what I came up with…..Mazy is excited every time I come home whether I’ve been gone 30 minutes or 3 days. She jumps on me and wants to give me kisses. Now I’m not suggesting you kiss your borrowers, but be excited every time your borrower contacts you. Never miss the opportunity to show the borrower that you are excited they choose you to help them with their home ownership needs.Mazy is loyal. She follows us around the house and likes to be in the room where we are at. She wants to be a part of the family and her loyalty shows. Be loyal to your borrowers. By this I mean follow up with them promptly, help them understand the process and be helpful along the way. All signs of great loyalty.Mazy is protective. She makes sure our family is safe by barking at strangers, especially ones who walk by the front of the house when she is sunning herself in the front window. Or when she sees a fly in the house she goes crazy, barking until we get rid of the pest. Make sure your borrower is safe during the mortgage process. We do mortgage loans everyday. Your borrower doesn’t. It probably causes them some anxiety. You can be there for them by making them feel comfortable and safe. You don’t need to bark, but make sure you get them a good appraisal, a good inspection and they don’t get taken advantage of during the process. continue reading »
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order approving Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG Stage 3 expansion. Cheniere’s Sabine Pass LNG unit filed an application with FERC for the construction of liquefaction trains 5 and 6 at the Sabine Pass terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana and sought the permission to expand the capacity of the interconnected pipeline.As FERC said in its order, the proposed construction of trains 5 and 6 in Stage 3 would increase the liquefaction project’s total authorized production capacity from approximately 20 mtpa, or 2.76 Bcf per day, to approximately 29 mtpa, or 4.14 Bcf per day.Cheniere said that it has executed sales and purchase agreements with Total Gas & Power North America and Centrica to deliver 101 Bcf and 88.3 Bcf per year of LNG, respectively from the proposed train 5.Negotiations for the sale of LNG from proposed train 6 are currently ongoing.[mappress mapid=”16402″]LNG World News Staff; Image: Cheniere
The comments come as it was revealed that National Museums Scotland (NMS) has been selected ahead of Dumfries and Galloway Council to provide a permanent home for the Galloway Viking hoard. The Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR) announced the find would be allocated to NMS- subject to them making an ex gratia payment of nearly £2m to the finder. Colin Smyth said, “The decision that the Viking hoard won’t be displayed permanently in Dumfries and Galloway is deeply disappointing. While the National Museums Scotland say they want to work with the Council to allow part of the hoard to be housed on occasions in the region, we should be very sceptical over any offer from NMS. When they closed the Museum of Costume at Shambellie House we were promised local exhibitions and that hasn’t materialised. That’s why I am urging the Cabinet Secretary of Culture Fiona Hyslop to make clear to NMS, which is a Government body, that a substantial part of the hoard should be on display in the region on a regular basis. I have also written to NMS asking them to spell out exactly what they plan to do with the hoard and how much will be displayed in our region. The government has to show that we actually have a National Museums Scotland interested in more than museums in Edinburgh. Displaying at least part of hoard in Kirkcudbright would boost the local economy by attracting more visitors. We won’t get that if it’s only on display in Edinburgh, lost among the many other displays”. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInSouth Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has urged the Scottish Government to intervene to ensure that National Museums Scotland hold regular displays in Dumfries and Galloway of internationally acclaimed Viking treasure hoard discovered in the region in 2014. The local MSP Colin Smyth has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Fiona Hyslop, calling on her to ensure that the National Museums Scotland house at least part of the hoard in the new art gallery being built by the council in Kirkcudbright.