Cursed with a persistent real estate glut, Florida's economic recovery is still "a couple years away," said Ray Torto, chief economist with the real estate firm CB Richard Ellis, who is speaking today at the University of Florida. "You partied too much," Torto said of Floridians' real estate speculation through 2006. "You've got to pay for it Sunday morning." But with homes and offices losing as much as half of their value in Florida, it's probably time to dip into the market again, Torto said. Just don't expect to make an immediate killing.
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Rumors return of Busch parks sale
News that British theme park operator Merlin Entertainments Group is close to becoming a publicly traded company has rekindled speculation it might try to buy Busch Entertainment Corp., including SeaWorld in Orlando and Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa, according to the Independent, a London newspaper. Merlin, which is looking for a spot to put a Legoland theme park in Orlando, has previously expressed interest in the Busch parks. Anheuser-Busch InBev plans to sell the Busch parks if it can get the right price. Busch Entertainment declined to comment.
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State bank picture is ugly, FDIC says
Florida's banking industry scored poor marks in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s quarterly state profiles released Thursday. The rate of net loan losses doubled from the first to second quarter statewide while the assets held by Florida banks shrank from $170 billion to $166 billion. Two years ago, Florida had 317 banks; now the total is 301. The report also showed the percentage of past-due and nonaccrual loans had doubled from a year ago and the number of nonbusiness bankruptcy filings had risen 62 percent. To read the report, visit blogs.tampabay.com/venture.
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Mall hairdo promo now an iPhone app
After its Yearbook Yourself Web site attracted 20 million potential shoppers to upload photos and doctor them in high school hairstyles and getups popular over the past 50 years, Taubman Centers Inc. has come up with an application for iPhones. Downloadable from iTunes or the App Store, the 99-cent app makes it easier to access the site from smart phones to see how you or friends look in a 1960s beehive or 1980s mullet. The manager of International Plaza in Tampa, Taubman created yearbookyourself.com as part of a viral marketing campaign to sign up volunteers willing to accept a link promoting current deals and events at its malls.
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MarineMax set to issue more stock
MarineMax Inc., the nation's biggest recreational boat retailer, is selling 2.6 million more shares of stock to raise about $20.5 million for corporate purposes and possibly to reduce debt. Part of the deal is an agreement with the Clearwater company's lenders to lower its revolving credit line from $300 million to $250 million by the end of this month, then to $175 million a year from now. As underwriter, Raymond James & Associates was granted an option to buy 390,000 more shares.
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Alabama business recruiter Jim Searcy works for the Birmingham Business Alliance. The name of his employer was misidentified Thursday in Robert Trigaux's column.