January 25, 2001

 

  Headlines---

   Rodi on "eLease"

    February Meetings Up-Date

     Credit Acceptance reports net auto leasing losses$820,000/$1,489,000 3 months/year

      Trinity Industries, Dallas, Texas,reports net loss of $42.4 million

       Record 4th for CIT/ Reports 13th Consecutive Year of Income Growth

          (The commercial delinquency trend reflected higher past dues in the Equipment

             Financing and Leasing segment, report also states. )

          eFin Enters Internet Fray with Auto and Equipment Lease for Dealers

            People's Bank Declares Dividend of $0.32 Per Share

              Fleet, North Fork Prepare Bids for EAB/American Banker

                      ( sent in by reader Chuck Dixon <cldixon@mindspring.com> , thank you )

 

Last week Finova laid off 90 employees, or about 9 percent of its workforce, in an ongoing

effort to cut costs. The company continues to employ about 300 people in Phoenix and 940     

nationwide. Today the deal for Leucadia National to Invest $350 Million in Finova fell

apart.  They reported a $274 million loss in November.  Stock is down to $1.06

http://www.corporate-ir.net/ireye/ir_site.zhtml?ticker=FNV&script=350

Full Story at end of report

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Odds and Ends

 

http://209.215.98.31/lessors.asp   The site has been upgraded to include recent cases and an

index to cases and articles that answer many common leasing questions. www.leaselawyer.com.

We understand attorney Ken Greene is building a site with such information, and there

are other groups, but to our knowledge, this is the only site on line, maintained

with the most current information from both brokers and lessors.www.leaselawyer.com.

 

   LeasingNews length---sorry for the long newsletter yesterday.  Will try to make

a effort to cut down the financial reports, and length. However, many readers want

to read the entire report, rather than just the "highlights." I will make an

effort to put the "press releases" to the bottom, and if I do a financial report

again, it will be at the end. Maybe I will cease doing them all together. editor

 

  The newspaper Monitor Leasing and Financial Services is going "monthly."  For years,

 they have be every other month, but their new advertising schedule shows they are now a

 monthly newspaper.  Advertising is up, too. There is an old adage in the retail

 trade, in tougher times, advertise more.

 

 Following that thought, it is now more important than ever to attend meetings, symposiums,

 and join a leasing association, if you have not already.  In fact, many of the successful

 brokers, lessors, and leasing companies belong to several associations.  It not only keeps

 them in touch, makes them "smarter," but keeps them successful. Think about it.  Money

 makes money. Get involved. Make more money. Enjoy life. Go for it!!!

 

Here is a revised association meeting schedule.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Association Meetings in February    http://www.leasingnews.org/meetings.htm

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

United Association of Equiment Leasing

January,26, 2001

Funding Retreat

Hilton Hotel Costa Mesa (formerly Doubletree Hotel)

3050 Bristol St.

Costa Mesa, CA. 90626

715.540.7000

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

Equipment Leaisng Association

February 4-6, 2001

Equipment Management

Conference and Exhibition

Westin LaPaloma

Tuscon, Arizona

 

Program available at:

http://www.elaonline.com/Events/2001/EquipMgmt/

 

for complete list of meeting:

http://www.elaonline.com/Events/Year.htm

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

EAEL/NAELB February 5th Joint Meeting

 

One Day, all Business Broker/Funding Meeting, Atlanta Marriott Hotel

February 5th ( actually there is a get acquainted evening available on February 4th ).

To learn more:

http://www.leasingnews.org/4th-annual-gathering.htm

This is a joint meeting of the Eastern Association of Equipment Leasing and the National

Association of Equipment Brokers.

You can also get the registration form on line.

http://www.leasingnews.org/Reg-form.htm

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

United Association of Equipment Leasing

2/9, 2001

Funding Retreat

Sheraton Dallas Brookhollow

1241 W. Mockingbird Lane

Dallas, Tx. 75247

214.630.7000

for further information, go to: http://www.uael.org/events/retreats/

 

 

United Assoication of Equipment Leasing

2/23, 2001

Funding Retreat

Washington Athletic Club

1325 Sixth Ave

Seattle, Wa. 98111

206.464.3050

 

for further information, go to: http://www.uael.org/events/retreats/

 

------------------------------------------------------------------

-----------------------------

Still looking for dates for these companies:

 

Imperial Credit Industries (ICII) ( sold portfolio )

Leasing Solutions , San Jose( bankrupt )

Merit Leasing ( gone )

Prime Leasing, Minnesota ( no longer doing business )

Rockford ( sold to American Express )

USA Capital Leasing ( gone-bk )

The Bancorp Group, Inc. (Southfield, MI) (Not accepting news business. The

BOD of the parent bank is assessing what to do with the leasing

subsidiary.....currently servicing portfolio but not originating. no longer in

business )

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Advanta

 

Kit:   Please delete rcinalli@ advanta.com.  Unfortunately, I did not have a

whole lot of time to say good-bye to a lot of business associates  and  good

friends.  For anyone interested, I can be reached at cinalli@concentric.net.

 

 

Thanks, Ron.

Ron Cinalli

<cinalli@concentric.net>

 

   ( I have been looking for comments, but this is the only one I have received.

     Several brokers have told me Advanta is not living up to their committ to

     fund approved deals, but have not confirmed that, so there may be another

     side to the story. editor ).

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

                Rodi Confirms Yesterday's "e-leasing" Comments

 

Kit,

 

I have an interesting commentary on your "e-leasing" comments.  I had a

recent conversation with Rich Masterson who is firmly entrenched in the

venture captial business at this time.  He had just returned from a venture

capital summit in NYC and he said it was about as cheery as Mother's Day at

an orphanage.

 

It seems that the VC people are suffering from the cruel irony of their

success.  They have money coming into their funds from some of their past

investment successes. You would guess that would be good news, wouldn't you?

The bottom line is that it's bad news because the IPO market has dried up so

there is no place to put the venture money and get a quick exit strategy

through an IPO.  The runaway train that was the NASDAQ for the past couple

of years, has pulled into the proverbial station--and nobody can tell when

it's pulling out again.  The Vulture Capitalists actually have to consider

investing in a company until it's actually successful in the traditional

sense of the word-meaning that it at least has to be throwing off positive

cash flow, or possibly even showing a profit.  The venture capital community

is beside itself over this unanticipated pothole in the information super

highway and $8.00 and hour at Burger King is a lot more attractive to a

Stanford Grad with a Business Plan than it was a year ago at this time.

 

In the last year we have seen the rise and fall of the on line broker.

Perhaps the shortest run I have ever seen for any business model in my 20

year association with this industry.  It was the "gold rush" and some of the

miners struck it rich.  Most of them, however, will end up having to work for

a living and for years they will be able to tell stories about how close

they came.

 

When you think about this business in the last five years it has been

absolutely wild.  Starting with First Sierra raiding the Colonial Pegasus

program, T&W, Greentree, NewCourt, AT&T, Linc, Bankvest, Advanta and

countless others the last five years have been unbelievable.  It looks like

things are about to come full circle.  All the turmoil of the past few years

has prompted people to start focusing on good solid business, honest

operations and sound portfolio management.  If we leverage automation and

the internet to accomplish these things and stay focused on the needs of our

customers and vendors, equipment leasing will rise again to favorable status

in the financial services industry.

 

Bob Rodi

LeaseNOW, Inc.

www.leasenow.com

drlease@leasenow.com

www.leasenow.com

1-800-321-LEAS (5327)

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        Trinity Industries Reports Results for Third Fiscal Quarter

 

( This is not to be confused with Trinity Capital Corporation, San Francisco, California.

  They are not related at all. Trinity Industries is primarily in the railroad car

  and tanker leasing business.editor )

 

DALLAS, Jan. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Trinity Industries Inc., (NYSE: TRN) today reported results for

the third quarter of fiscal 2001.

 

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2000, the Company reported a net loss of $42.4 million, or $1.14

a diluted share, on revenues of $401.2 million.  This compares with net income of $40.3 million, or $1.02 a diluted share, on revenues of $700.8 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2000. 

Results for the third quarter of fiscal 2001 include pre tax charges of $65.6 million ($42.0

million after tax), or $1.13 per share primarily related to write-downs of equity investments

and wholly owned businesses, environmental liabilities, and other charges.  The $65.6 million is net of a gain on sale of real estate of $3.8 million.

 

For the nine months ended Dec. 31, 2000, net loss was $34.7 million, or $.92 a diluted share, on revenues of $1.49 billion.  The nine month period ending December 31, 2000 includes the unusual

charges mentioned above plus charges recorded in the second quarter related primarily to

restructuring the Company's railcar operations, exiting the flange and valve businesses, writing down certain inventory, curtailing international barge operations, disposing of excess assets,

staff reduction of corporate employees, and writing down an equity investment.  Total unusual

pre tax charges included in the nine month period for fiscal 2001 are $117.5 million ($75.2

million after tax), or $2.01 per share.  For the nine months ended December 31, 1999, the

Company reported net income of $131.6 million, or $3.29 a diluted share, on revenues of $2.09

billion for the same period one year ago.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  Credit Acceptance

 

 

 The Company reported net losses on its automobile leasing operations of ($820,000) and

($1,489,000) for the three months and year ended December 31, 2000 compared with net losses of

($198,000) and ($488,000) for the same periods in 1999

 

Credit Acceptance Corporation Reports 2000 Earnings of $23,650,000 or $0.53 Per Diluted Share

Fourth Quarter Earnings of $5,667,000 or $0.13 Per Diluted Share

 

 

SOUTHFIELD, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 24, 2001--Credit Acceptance Corporation (Nasdaq:CACC)

announced today that consolidated net income for the quarter ended December 31, 2000 was

$5,667,000 or $0.13 per diluted share compared to $3,805,000 or $0.08 per diluted share for the

same period in 1999. 

 

For the year ended December 31, 2000, consolidated net income was $23,650,000 or $0.53 per

diluted share compared to a loss of

 

($10,686,000) or ($0.23) per diluted share for the same period in 1999.

 

Earnings for the quarter ended December 31, 1999 include after tax charges totaling $800,000

resulting from the settlement of consumer litigation and $400,000 from the acceleration of

amortization of certain deferred debt issuance costs in connection with the repurchase of senior notes. Results for fiscal 1999 include an after tax non-cash charge of $39.2 million in the

third quarter relating to dealer advance losses and the write down of a portion of the retained

interest in the July 1998 securitization which was partially offset by a $9.0 million after tax

gain relating to the sale of a subsidiary. Excluding the impact of the non-recurring items

discussed above, annual earnings per diluted share increased 20.5% from $0.44 in 1999 to $0.53

in 2000.

 

Cash collections on installment contracts receivable, as a percent of average gross installment

contracts receivable, were 57.8% for the year ended December 31, 2000 compared with 57.3% for

1999. The Company's average annualized yield on its installment contract portfolio improved to

13.9% for the year ended December 31, 2000 from 12.7% for 1999. The improvement in the average

yield resulted from a decrease in the percentage of installment contracts which were in

non-accrual status to 21.6% as of December 31, 2000 from 23.0% as of December 31, 1999.

 

The Company's consolidated originations totaled $127,457,000 and $587,324,000 for the three

months and year ended December 31, 2000 compared with $136,637,000 and $541,649,000 for the same periods in 1999, representing a decrease of 6.7% and an increase of 8.4% for the three months

and year ended, respectively.

 

The Company's North American operations originated $85,518,000 and $403,078,000 in new

installment contracts for the three months and year ended December 31, 2000 compared with

$90,957,000 and $408,545,000 for the same periods in 1999, representing decreases of 6.0% and

1.3% for the three months and year ended, respectively.

 

The Company's United Kingdom operations originated $34,246,000 and $144,992,000 in new

installment contracts for the three months and year ended December 31, 2000 compared to

$40,816,000 and $124,566,000 for the same periods in 1999, representing a decrease of 16.1% for

the three month period and an increase of 16.4% for the year ended.

 

Originations for the Company's automobile leasing operations were $7,693,000 and $39,254,000 for the three months and year ended December 31, 2000 compared with $4,864,000 and $8,538,000 for

the same periods in 1999. The Company reported net losses on its automobile leasing operations

of ($820,000) and ($1,489,000) for the three months and year ended December 31, 2000 compared

with net losses of

 

($198,000) and ($488,000) for the same periods in 1999. The Company began originating leases of

used vehicles during the first quarter of 1999.

 

The increase in the automobile leasing operations net loss for the quarter was primarily due to

a $1.2 million increase in the provision for credit losses for the quarter ended December 31,

2000 compared to the same period in 1999.

 

The increase in the size of the Company's lease portfolio accounts for the largest portion of

the increase in the provision for credit losses. However, additional amounts were provided

during the year based upon the Company's evaluation of portfolio performance data, which caused

the Company to increase its forecasted repossession rate for the portfolio of leases and

increase the reserve against leased vehicle residual values.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

        CIT is a leading, global source of financing and leasing capital for companies in more

than 30 industries. Managing more than $50 billion in assets across a diversified portfolio, CIT is the trusted financial engine empowering many of today's industry leaders and emerging

businesses, offering vendor, equipment, commercial, factoring, consumer and structured financing capabilities. Founded in 1908, CIT operates extensively in the United States and Canada with

strategic locations in Europe, Latin and South America, and the Pacific Rim. For more

information on CIT, visit the Web site at www.cit.com.

 

 (The commercial delinquency trend reflected higher past dues in the Equipment

             Financing and Leasing segment, report also states. )

 

Here is there press release, without the financial numbers, as many readers

are complaining that we are including them in the reports and making them

too long. To see the numbers, go to their web site www.cit.com

 

 

CIT Reports 13th Consecutive Year of Income Growth; Record 4th Quarter Results Reflect Improved

Margins, Stable Charge-offs and Decreased Leverage

 

 

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 25, 2001--Delivering its 13th consecutive year of earnings

growth, The CIT Group, Inc. (NYSE: CIT, TSE - CIT.U and Exchangeable Shares: TSE - CGX.U) today

announced record fourth quarter 2000 net income of $160.1 million, or $0.61 per share on a fully diluted basis, compared to $104.3 million, or $0.49 per diluted share, in the prior year.

 

For the twelve months ending December 31, 2000, net income totaled a record $611.6 million, an

increase of 57.1 percent from the prior year. The earnings improvement over the prior year

reflects growth from our 1999 acquisition activities, solid fee and other income generation as

well as considerable expense savings related to operational integrations. On a diluted per share basis, earnings for 2000 were $2.33 compared to $2.22 in 1999.

 

Fourth quarter 2000 earnings per diluted share, before the amortization of goodwill, was $0.69,

improved from $0.54 in 1999. For the year, earnings per diluted share before the amortization of goodwill increased 12.4 percent from 1999 to $2.62.

 

"Despite a softening economy, CIT produced record net income for the quarter and the year,

driven by strong performances from its diversified franchises. For well over a decade, in both

favorable and tough economies, CIT has consistently produced earnings growth while maintaining a strong balance sheet," said Albert R. Gamper, Jr., CIT Chairman, President and CEO. "With

leadership positions in key industry sectors, a highly diversified revenue stream, and strong

operating platforms, we are positioned for continued success. In the months ahead, we will

continue to focus on the fundamentals of credit quality and operating efficiencies while

progressing toward our goals with respect to improving balance sheet leverage and returns."

 

Financial Highlights:

 

Business Volume. Fourth quarter business volume, excluding factoring, was $6.3 billion, up from

$6.1 billion for the third quarter and $5.3 billion for the same period last year. This is

indicative of the continued improvement in business generation and boosted CIT's Year 2000

commercial and consumer business volume to $25.3 billion.

 

Margins. Fourth quarter 2000 net finance margin improved to $390.6 million from $370.5 million

in the third quarter and $272.7 million in the fourth quarter last year. Fourth quarter 2000 net finance margin as a percentage of average earning assets was 3.75 percent, up from 3.61 percent

for the third quarter and from 3.51 percent in the fourth quarter of 1999. This improvement

reflects the benefit of pricing initiatives and business mix.

 

Credit Quality. Fourth quarter 2000 net charge-offs were $60.1 million, 0.70 percent of average

finance receivables, compared to $61.9 million or 0.74 percent in the third quarter. Commercial

net charge-offs for the fourth quarter were 0.62 percent compared to 0.67 percent for the third

quarter, while consumer net charge-offs were 1.25 percent compared to 1.21 percent for the third quarter. At December 31, 2000, total past dues as a percentage of finance receivables, were 2.98 percent, up from 2.67 percent at September 30, 2000, as both commercial and consumer

delinquencies increased during the quarter. The commercial delinquency trend reflected higher

past dues in the Equipment Financing and Leasing segment, in part offset by a decrease in the

Vendor Technology Finance segment. Consumer delinquencies increased seasonally in the quarter.

 

Efficiency and Expenses. The efficiency ratio was 43.0 percent in the fourth quarter, improved

from 48.3 percent for the fourth quarter 1999. The efficiency ratio was 43.8 percent and 41.3

percent for the full year 2000 and 1999, respectively, reflecting the Newcourt acquisition late

in 1999.

 

Balance Sheet Leverage. Debt to tangible equity ratio closed the year at 8.78 times, an

improvement from 9.09 times last quarter, reflecting management's ongoing initiatives to

liquidate lower yielding assets and maintain pricing discipline. Similarly, the ratio of

tangible stockholders' equity to managed assets improved to 7.82 percent from 7.55 percent last

quarter.

 

Segment Performance. Net income for the fourth quarter was highlighted by a strong performance

across all business units, particularly in the Equipment Financing and Leasing segment,

mitigated by modest losses in our Equity Investment portfolio. Fourth quarter volume was strong

in Structured Finance, Vendor Technology Finance and Business Credit.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 e-fin Credit Transactions Fully Integrated into ERA2, Leading DMS System of Reynolds and

Reynolds

 

 

HICKORY, N.C., Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Reynolds and Reynolds ERA2 system is the market leader in dealer management systems.  Built on a foundation of Total Integration, ERA2 has added new

meaning to the concept.  Through Reynolds' strategic partnership with e-fin, ERA2 users are

assured integration capabilities well beyond the customary departmental linkage such as sales,

accounting, and service.  ERA2 incorporates the power of e-fin to provide a seamless link to

electronic credit application transactions.

 

Integrating the e-fin module into dealer management systems benefits retail clients in many

ways.  Principally, they now have a single process with which to bi-directionally communicate

digital finance transaction data with any lender they have, or want, a relationship with.  Until now, there has been either broadcast faxes or multiple electronic processes to deal with on a

per application basis; this integration technology creates a single data entry process and makes

F&I much more efficient and elegant for dealerships.

 

e-fin, ( www.e-fin.com ), is the first and most comprehensive full-service online indirect auto

finance channel of its kind.  Through e-fin, F&I managers in franchised and independent

automotive dealerships are able to choose financial products offered by their preferred

financial institutions, quickly and without the previous limitations imposed by time, money, and geography. This is done by utilizing powerful, secure Internet communications and transaction

processing technology that is managed through the e-fin site.

 

"We designed the e-fin system for precisely this kind of integrated application.  Incorporating

e-fin into the Reynold's dealer management system completely eliminates the errors and efforts

associated with double data entry and provides all the streamlining efficacy of bi-directional

integration. This is how the industry wants to do these transactions.  We're very excited that

more than 8000 Reynolds dealers have access to this powerful functionality," states David

Sinclair, e-fin CEO.

 

In addition to its role as minority equity investor in e-fin, Reynolds and Reynolds also works

with e-fin as a strategic partner, providing an array of strategic and tactical services.

 

Reynolds and Reynolds, headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, is the leading provider of integrated

information management solutions to the automotive retailing marketplace. The company's services

include a full range of retail and enterprise management systems, networking and support,

e-business applications, Web services, learning and consulting services, customer relationship

management solutions and leasing services. To find out more about the company, its vision,

products and services, visit www.reyrey.com .

 

More than 350 dealers nationwide have chosen e-fin as their source for electronic credit

transactions, as well as a variety of lending sources, prime to subprime.  The first and most

comprehensive service of its kind, e-fin provides dealers with access to their preferred

financing resources while decreasing application approval time and providing direct access to

pertinent lender documents and other lender communications.

 

To find out more about e-fin, visit the e-fin website at www.e-fin.com , or contact: David A.

Sinclair, CEO or Pamela E. Morrison, VP Operations at e- fin LLC, P.O. Box 1823, Hickory, NC,

28603; Tel: 828-267-0001 / Fax: 828-267-0211; Email: das@e-fin.com .

 

SOURCE  e-fin LLC  

 

CO:  e-fin LLC; Reynolds and Reynolds

çü[1]

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Fleet, North Fork Prepare Bids for EAB

By Liz Moyer, American Banker

North Fork Bancorp and FleetBoston Financial are preparing bids for ABN Amro Holding NV's

European American Bank, a Uniondale, NY, company that could fetch about $1.3 billion, sources

said.

Bids are due Monday (1/29/01), the sources said, and North Fork and Fleet are seen as the only

companies to have interest so far.

ABN Amro, the Dutch financial services company, is said to be desperate for cash to fund its

$2.75 billion deal to buy Michigan National, announced in November. In addition, the company is

reportedly close to agreeing on a deal for the U.S. investment banking operations of ING

Barings.

Spokesmen for ABN Amro, North Fork, and Fleet declined to comment.

ABN Amro, which is conducting the bidding with the help of J.P. Morgan Chase wants $2 billion

for European American, the sources said. However, leverage on the bank's balance sheet,

including about $3.5 billion in leases, is expected to keep bids lower, in the range of $1.2

billion to $1.4 billion, according to a source familiar with the bidding.

European American Bank has $11 billion of deposits and 96 branches in the New York metropolitan

market, mostly on Long Island. It has 29 branches in New York City, 13 of them in Manhattan.

Bankers said the company has expertise in commercial lending as well as gathering commercial

deposits.

Analysts said European American would be a logical fit for Melville, NY-based North Fork, which

has made no secret of its desire to expand in the New York area - particularly in Manhattan,

where it has been opening branches for the past year.

The companies have significant overlap on Long Island. Well known for its cost-cutting, North

Fork would be able to reap substantial savings from a combination, analysts said.

North Fork chairman John Adam Kanas said last March that he wanted to "dramatically grow" the

company's commercial banking business in the city by taking advantage of a vacuum in

small-business and middle-market lending that was created from mergers initiated by Citigroup

and by what was then Chase Manhattan.

Kanas initiated a $1.9 billion hostile takeover of rival Dime Bancorp, securing the support of

Fleet, no less. Fleet agreed to put up $250 million to help North Fork's chances in exchange for

the option to buy choice branches after the deal closed.

North Fork and Dime sparred for most of the summer, Kanas withdrew his bid in September. An

inveterate dealmaker who has built North Fork through acquisition since the early 1990s, Kanas

has been quiet ever since.

Fleet has been actively pursuing growth in the New York market. It is finalizing the $7 billion

purchase of Princeton, NJ-based Summit Bancorp, announced in October. And Fleet has made no

secret of its intention to build its branch network as well as its middle-market and

small-business lending in the New York region.

The price for European American may be easier for Fleet to swallow. "That's small change," said

Nancy Bush, an analyst at Prudential Securities.

Other area banking companies are seen as less likely to bid. HSBC USA, for example, bought

Republic National last year and has said it wants to complete that integration before taking on

new deals. Likewise, M&T Bank in Buffalo, NY, is absorbing its $1 billion deal for

Pennsylvania's Keystone Financial, which executives said would keep it out of the merger game

for at least a year.

It appears that ABN Amro wants to concentrate its U.S. commercial banking operations in the

Midwest, where it already has a sizeable presence. In addition to its deal for $11.6

billion-asset Michigan National, ABN Amro's holdings include LaSalle Bank in Chicago and

Standard Federal in Troy, MI.

Standard Federal would merge with Michigan National to become second in market share in

Michigan.

European American Bank's competitors in New York said that it makes sense that ABN Amro would

exit the market. "Their New York presence is represented by a small bank, and that doesn't seem

to fall into the category of what a big bank like that would want," one banker said.

January 25, 2001

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

           Finova Left Scrambling After Collapse of Leucadia Deal

                        By Eileen Kinsella, TheStreet.com

 

Flagging financial company Finova will likely be swimming upstream in the wake of the collapse

of a deal for new capital.

Commercial lender Finova and its would-be savior Leucadia National ended their investment

agreement after it became clear they couldn't hammer out a restructuring agreement with Finova's bank lenders and public debt holders.

Last November, Leucadia had proposed investing at least $350 million - and possibly as much as

$400 million - in troubled Finova. The circuitous deal involved, among other things, Leucadia

buying 10 million new convertible preferred Finova shares that would be convertible into 100

million common Finova shares in June 2006. Analysts roundly criticized the deal when it was

announced, claiming that Finova had given away the store. One analyst said the cost to Finova

was too high and would essentially give away 75% of the company in exchange for the short-term

support.

Yet despite the dim view that many observers took of the original deal, Leucadia's disappearance as a source of capital will leave Finova in a difficult position as it tries to put together an

alternative restructuring plan.

This is not the first time Leucadia has backed out of a white knight-type agreement. In July of

last year, the company called off a proposed $293 million purchase of cash-strapped insurer

Reliance Group Holdings a move that has left Reliance in a tight spot as it seeks to avoid a

bankruptcy filing. (In late December, Reliance was still involved in restructuring talks.)

Finova said it plans to continue working with its creditors in an attempt to come up with an

alternative restructuring plan as soon as possible. Finova said it will need the support of

almost all of its shareholders for a restructuring in order to avoid a reorganization under

court protection.

The commercial lender has been hit with a string of problems since March, when a $70 million

write down for a loan to a computer distributor made investors skittish. Soon after, CEO Samuel

Eichenfield resigned abruptly. After hiring an adviser to explore a possible sale, Finova

started exploring the possibility of selling business lines after it became apparent that no one wanted to buy the company whole. Several debt downgrades and a dividend cut later, the picture

is looking increasingly dark at Finova.

Related Story

Finova Group's shares tumbled and the company moved a step closer to a possible bankruptcy as it and Leucadia National said they ended an agreement in which Leucadia was to invest up to $350

million in the troubled lender.

The termination, coming eight months after Finova first said it was exploring "strategic

alternatives," may also affect billionaire Warren Buffett, who reportedly in the fall bought

several hundred million dollars of Scottsdale, AZ-based Finova's distressed bonds.

Finova shares closed Wednesday (1/24/01) on the New York Stock Exchange at $1-1/8, down 1/8, or

10 percent, after trading up during the day as much as 40 percent. Their 52-week high is $34.

"My initial impression is that this has to be viewed negatively" for Finova, said Michael

Vinciquerra, an equity research analyst for Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, FL.

"To me, Leucadia's backing out takes away Finova's best lifeline."

Finova, which lends mainly to small- and medium-sized businesses, said it intends to keep

working with creditors and present a restructuring plan in the "very near future."

Leucadia shares closed on the Big Board at $33-5/8, down 13/16. Shares of Berkshire Hathaway,

Buffett's investment vehicle, closed at $67,000, down $300.

Finova's "distressed" notes showed little movement after the announcement.

Traders bid its 7.25 percent notes maturing on Nov. 2004 at 71 cents on the dollar and offered

them at 73 cents on the dollar. about 13 cents higher than immediately before reports of an

investment by Buffett first surfaced.

Finova and Leucadia declined further comment. Berkshire Hathaway were not immediately available

for comment.

In a joint statement, Finova and Leucadia said Finova's bank lenders and bondholders were the

main roadblocks to any planned restructuring. In a recent filing with the Securities and

Exchange Commission, Finova said it had about $4.7 billion of bank debt and $6.6 billion of

bonds.

"The termination was agreed to after it became evident that the parties would not likely

conclude a restructuring agreement with Finova's bank lenders and public debt holders on terms

deemed mutually acceptable to Finova and Leucadia," the companies said.

When the companies first announced the investment on Dec. 21, Finova said substantially all of

its lenders would have to agree to any restructuring for Finova to avoid having to seek a

bankruptcy reorganization.

Leucadia's withdrawal, Vinciquerra said, "indicates to me there is a significant problem in

(Finova) renegotiating its bank lines. It would take someone with a very highly rated balance

sheet to better negotiate with the banks."

New York-based Leucadia last July 19 pulled out of a deal to buy Reliance Group Holdings, the

troubled insurance company run by the family of financier Saul Steinberg.

In another securities filing, Finova said it has $1.6 billion of credit lines maturing on May

15.

"The bank lines start expiring in May, so that seems to be the drop dead date," said

Vinciquerra.

Finova Capital, a unit of Finova, carries a senior debt rating of "Caa1," a low junk grade, from credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service, and a rating of "B," a medium junk grade roughly two notches higher, from Standard & Poor's.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

            People's Bank Declares Dividend of $0.32 Per Share

 

 

BRIDGEPORT, Conn., Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- People's Bank (Nasdaq: PBCT), a $14 billion

diversified financial services company, today announced its Board of Directors voted to declare

a quarterly dividend on its common stock of $0.32 per share.  The dividend is payable February

15, 2001, to stockholders of record on February 1, 2001.  People's Mutual Holdings, which owns

36.5 million shares of People's Bank common stock, will accept $375,000 in dividends,

representing payment on 3 percent of its shares.

 

John Klein, president and chief executive officer, stated, "We are pleased to reward our

shareholders with our 30th consecutive quarterly dividend since 1993, which reflects the Board's confidence in the value generated by our growing franchise."  Based on the closing stock price

on January 24, 2001, the dividend yield on People's common stock is 4.9 percent.

 

People's Bank is a diversified financial services company providing consumer, commercial,

insurance and investment services.  The bank is a leader in supermarket banking, with 53 of its

146 branches located in Super Stop & Shop stores.  Through its subsidiaries, People's provides

brokerage services, money management, equipment leasing and insurance.  Nationally, People's is

the 17th largest issuer of MasterCard and Visa credit cards.  The bank also has an international

credit card operation headquartered in Northampton, England.

 

SOURCE  People's Bank  

 

CO:  People's Bank; People's Mutual Holdings

 

ST:  Connecticut

 

 

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