CELEBRATION TOWN CENTER SOLD: The Walt Disney Co. has sold the town center of Celebration, the city it created, to Lexin Capital, a private real estate investment firm, for an undisclosed price. The sale ends the entertainment giant's most visible connection to an experiment with urban planning. Lexin Capital's purchase encompasses 18 acres containing 16 retail shops, six full-service restaurants, more than 94,000 square feet of commercial office space, 105 private apartments and three land parcels. Disney will maintain a presence in the town of 8,000 people over the next several years, focusing on selling its remaining commercial land.
YELLOW PAGES COMPETITORS CLASH: Verizon Directories Corp., the publisher of Verizon's SuperPages yellow pages directory, said it has sued competitor Yellow Book USA Inc. for claiming that more people use its yellow pages than the SuperPages. Verizon accused Yellow Book of false TV advertising for its claim and alleged that Yellow Book has instructed its sales force to use false statistics to sell advertising. In the suit filed in U.S. District Court in New York, Verizon is seeking damages, court costs and a court order forcing Yellow Book to retract and correct its claims. In a statement, Yellow Book rejected the charges, saying it has never received complaints from Verizon about its current TV ad campaign, which it said has been running for nearly two years.
NEW STRATEGY PLANNED FOR SAVANE BRAND: Tropical Sportswear Int'l Corp. has hired Bolt Group, a Charlotte, N.C., ad agency, to develop a new marketing strategy for Savane. Savane is the Tampa apparelmaker's fashion department store brand. Bolt has done work in the apparel industry for Phillips-Van Heusen, Izod and Ecko Unltd.
SOUTH FINANCIAL ADDS TO FLORIDA HOLDINGS: South Financial Group of Greenville, S.C., continues its push into Florida, saying it has agreed to buy CNB Florida Bancshares Inc. for about $157-million in stock. CNB, of Jacksonville, has 16 branches in northeast Florida. South Financial has made five acquisitions in Florida, including last year's purchase of Central Bank of Tampa and Gulf West Banks of St. Petersburg, the parent of Mercantile Bank.
"JOHN DOE' MUSIC DOWNLOADERS SUED: The recording industry sued 532 computer users it said were illegally distributing songs over the Internet. Music lawyers filed the newest cases against "John Doe" defendants, identified only by their numeric Internet protocol addresses, and expected to work through the courts to learn their names and where they live. Each person is accused of illegally distributing an average of more than 800 songs online and faces potential civil penalties or settlements that could cost them thousands of dollars. The lawsuits are the first since a federal appeals court blocked the use of special copyright subpoenas to identify those being targeted.
FPL LAWSUIT SURVIVES: A Miami judge examining the independence of FPL Group's board members, executives and lawyers is keeping alive a shareholder lawsuit seeking the return of $62-million in management bonuses for a failed merger. U.S. District Judge Alan Gold questioned the roles of corporate insiders and outside lawyers in FPL's refusal to seek refunds after shareholders approved but management backed out of a merger with Entergy Corp. of New Orleans in 2002. Calls to FPL and its attorneys were not immediately returned. FPL is the parent company of Florida Power & Light.