05/23/13 Personal Finance
Here's one more sign Florida's jobs market is reviving: The state has paid back the $3.5 billion loan it needed to pay weekly unemployment benefits during the economic crisis.
The final payment of $9.2 million was made Tuesday and went toward interest, according to the Florida Department of Revenue. Total interest paid on the loan was $99.5 million.
The state's Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund was intended to be self-sustaining, with employers taxed quarterly on employee wages. During the recession, however, the fund went insolvent as Florida was squeezed from both sides: more people were applying for unemployment benefits while Florida had fewer and smaller companies putting income into the fund....
Florida's troubled property insurance market shouldn't feel any ripple effects with higher rates because of the devastating Oklahoma tornado, insurance experts say.
"This is a tornado that occurred in Oklahoma," said Bob Hartwig, an economist and president of the Insurance Information Institute. "This doesn't have any impact on the cost of homeowners insurance in Florida … in the same way that a hurricane in Florida has no impact on the rates in Oklahoma."...
05/22/13 Personal Finance
Tampa-based financial adviser J.W. Cole Financial said Wednesday it has closed on the acquisition of San Diego-based Financial Advisers of America, a deal that unites about 450 independent advisers nationwide.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, together the companies are projected to have about $100 million in revenues this year.
The combined firm, with about $10 billion in client assets under management, will maintain home offices in both Tampa and San Diego. Beyond its adviser network, the firm has 47 employees....
TAMPA — National media who cover the financial markets' epicenter in New York descended on JPMorgan Chase's annual meeting Tuesday in Tampa in search of a great shareholder showdown. A dozen security officers checked and rechecked cars entering the company's east Tampa office park.
It was billed as a pivotal moment in corporate governance, one that could set a precedent for going toe-to-toe with the most powerful chieftains on Wall Street. ...
TAMPA— The head of the country's biggest bank finds out today whether he gets to keep both of his top titles.
And the drama will unfold right here in Tampa.
Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, faces a shareholder push to relinquish the title of board chairman during the New York banking conglomerate's annual meeting. Slated to begin at 10 a.m. at the bank's Highland Oaks campus in East Tampa, the meeting is expected to draw a vocal and potentially large group of protesters outside as well as anxious investors inside. ...
Just in time for hurricane season, one of the fastest growing property insurers in the state is opening its new, three-story headquarters in St. Petersburg.
American Strategic Insurance is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony for 3 p.m. Tuesday for its 110,000-square foot headquarters at the newly named 1 ASI Way, located near the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N and Gandy Boulevard. The complex is part of a 13-acre, $42 million project....
A dozen years ago, lawyer Chris Cutler was among a small group of Securities and Exchange Commission staffers examining the books of relatively unknown Texas energy company Enron Corp.
"When the SEC opened its investigation, three of us started going at it and then we realized it would take a lot more people," Cutler said. "It grew to eight people (at the SEC). Then criminal authorities got interested and soon you had all these U.S. attorney offices vying for who was going to take (the lead) on this."...
Hancock Bank and Whitney Bank are closing between 40 and 45 branches starting in August in a five-state area, including Florida, parent Hancock Holding Co. confirmed Friday.
Hancock/Whitney has 13 bay area branches, along with multiple locations in Bradenton, according to its Web site.
Hancock spokesman R. Paul Maxwell said the company will likely disclose locations of some of the affected branches within 10 days after clients are notified. Most of the closings will take place Aug. 30, followed by "a handful of possible additional closures" by the end of the year, the bank said....
05/17/13 Personal Finance
TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott was all smiles during a stop in Tampa on Friday morning, his only complication being which of two economic victories deserved the bigger celebration: a big drop in Florida's unemployment rate or a sales tax cut for manufacturers.
In tandem with signing the tax cut bill, Scott touted the state's jobs report, which included an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent, an almost five-year low. Among the other highlights: Florida added 9,000 construction jobs from March to April, more than any other state and a sharp reversal from the years it led the country in shedding construction workers....
Florida homeowners are grappling with a familiar nightmare this time of year, and it's not fear of a major hurricane.
Once more, property owners enter hurricane season threatened with paying higher insurance rates — particularly if they're with state-run Citizens Property Insurance — even though Florida has been spared major storm damage for eight years.
The argument over higher rates is sharply divided....
St. Petersburg-based Priority One Financial Services is investigating "several material misstatements" in its revenues.
Executives with the specialty finance company did not return calls for comments Thursday.
However, in an email to staffers obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, Priority One president Heather Mariscal said the misstated revenues were reported by Jason Kendall, who ran the company's Veritas insurance unit. She told employees Kendall is no longer with the company and should not be granted access to the building under any circumstances. ...
Tampa Bay is still clustered among the most financially distressed major metros in the country. But cheer up: Consumers here are healing at a faster pace than anywhere else.
In fact, out of the country's 30 biggest metros, Tampa Bay was one of just three to post better scores than last time in the Consumer Distress Index being released today by credit counseling agency CredAbility. And the other two metros on an upward swing, Orlando and Detroit, improved only marginally compared with a noticeable boost for Tampa Bay....
ST. PETERSBURG — As head of high-flying Medicare insurer Universal Health Care, Dr. Akshay Desai was a prominent member of many boards and organizations. Among them: the Parents Council of Wake Forest University.
Desai and his wife, Seema, whose two oldest children attended the North Carolina school, joined dozens of other parents selected in part for their ability to make an "annual contribution'' to the Wake Forest Fund. ...
05/10/13 Working Life
Florida's economy added 9,570 private sector jobs in April, the second-biggest jump behind Texas, according to estimates released Friday by payroll and employee benefits company ADP.
The report — the first time ADP has released a regional breakdown for its oft-cited monthly report — may be a sneak preview for Florida's unemployment and jobs report coming from government estimates May 17....
05/09/13 Real Estate
TAMPA — It has been a rough spring for Jeff Vinik, at least by multimillionaire standards.
His hockey team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, missed the playoffs. He decided to close his multibillion-dollar hedge fund, Vinik Asset Management LP. And he is no longer involved in the restoration of Channelside Bay Plaza.
But Vinik still has grand plans for his hockey team, his charitable foundation and, particularly, his considerable downtown real estate holdings....