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BofA Countrywide break

(Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) may limit its exposure to claims by Countrywide Financial mortgage-backed securities investors after a federal judge said she may have erred two years ago by allowing some claims to proceed.

U.S. District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer in Los Angeles, who presides over the consolidated mortgage-backed securities cases against Bank of America's Countrywide, said in a Nov. 21 order that she is no longer convinced that a California state court case extended the statute of limitation of claims brought in federal court.

Pfaelzer in 2010 had allowed a federal class-action case to proceed for mortgage bonds that were owned by investors who filed the first securities lawsuits against Countrywide in state court in 2007 and 2008.

In her decision at the time, the judge had agreed with the investors that the statute of limitations hadn't run out for those claims based on the earlier suits.

In her new ruling, the judge said that since state lawsuits don't have to meet the same requirements as class-action lawsuits filed in federal court, the federal rules that would have preserved the plaintiffs’ standing to pursue the claims couldn’t be applied to the state lawsuit.

The case is FDIC v. Countrywide Financial, 12-4354, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles.)
NM property taxes

(AP) -- County officials are asking the Legislature to require the disclosure of more property sales prices to help with tax assessments in New Mexico.

Currently, assessors are provided prices of residential property that's sold.

They want to expand the disclosure requirement to vacant land as well as commercial property and agricultural land.

The information would go to assessors but not be publicly disclosed.

New Mexico Association of Counties Executive Director Paul Gutierrez told a legislative committee last week that sales prices would help in accurately determining the valuation of commercial buildings and other property for tax purposes.

Property valuations are to reflect market prices.

Sen. Mark Boitano, an Albuquerque Republican, said taxes could increase for some property owners if valuations are boosted because of reassessments using sales information.
REIT sale in Mexico

(Bloomberg) -- Macquarie Group Ltd., Australia's biggest investment bank, plans to raise as much as 16.1 billion pesos ($1.2 billion) in a record initial public offering for Mexico’s real estate investment trust market.

The trust plans to sell shares for 25 pesos to 29 pesos each on Dec. 6, according to a prospectus filed Monday with the Mexican stock exchange.

The deal would raise a maximum of 14 billion pesos before the so-called greenshoe option for underwriters to buy additional shares.

With similar trusts lining up to sell shares in Mexico, Macquarie said it plans to use the funds to acquire industrial properties, including assets from a unit of General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), known as GE Capital Real Estate Mexico.

The trust's initial portfolio was appraised at $1.41 billion to $1.51 billion by Colliers International UK Plc, according to a separate presentation also posted on the bourse’s website.

Bank of America Corp., Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are helping manage the deal, according to the prospectus.

Fibra Uno Administracion SA, Mexico's first real estate investment trust, has soared 72 percent since selling shares in its March 2011 IPO.

Concentradora Fibra Hotelera Mexicana SA, which would be Mexico's second such publicly listed real estate trust, will seek to raise as much as 4.36 billion pesos in an IPO scheduled to price on Nov. 29.

Trustee Asesor de Activos Prisma SAPI has also filed to carry out an IPO of its real estate investment trust known as Fibra Inn, according to a preliminary prospectus.
NY Superstorm delegation

(AP) -- An official in the New York governor's administration said Superstorm Sandy ran up a $42 billion bill on New York and the state and New York City are making big requests for disaster aid from the federal government.

The official provided the new, higher total on the condition of anonymity because an announcement was scheduled for later Monday.

The cost includes $32 billion for repairs and restoration and $9 billion for mitigation of damage and for preventive measures for the next disastrous storm.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York's congressional delegation will now draw up a request for federal disaster aid. Bloomberg estimates the city's cost alone at $19 billion.
Sandy costs rising

(Bloomberg) -- Sandy, the superstorm that made landfall in New Jersey last month, may cost insurers between $16 billion and $22 billion, modeling firm AIR Worldwide said.

The figures compare with an estimate of between $7 billion and $15 billion made on Oct. 30, the day after the storm struck, and reflects higher-than-predicted losses from storm surge, the modeler said.
NY aid approved

(AP) -- More than $664 million in federal aid has been approved for New York's victims of Superstorm Sandy by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA said Sunday that more than 230,000 New Yorkers have requested assistance since the storm hit.

The hardest hit areas of the state include Nassau County, which has received about $224 million. Queens County, which includes the hard-hit Rockaways, has received $170 million.

Richmond County, the home of battered Staten Island, has received about $70 million.

Officials have conducted more than 131,000 home inspections.

FEMA said workers are going door-to-door explaining the types of disaster assistance available and how to register.
Hiring New Yorkers

(AP) -- More than 5,000 New Yorkers will be hired for temporary government jobs cleaning up after Superstorm Sandy, officials said Sunday.

About $27 million in federal Labor Department money will finance the cleanup and rebuilding positions in New York City and eight nearby counties, paying about $15 per hour and generally lasting about six months, state and federal officials said.

Separately, the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are working to put New Yorkers into more than 700 temporary FEMA jobs, some as administrative assistants and community relations workers.
No Four Seasons sale

(Bloomberg) -- Four Seasons Hotel New York owner H. Ty Warner decided not to sell the luxury Manhattan property after receiving an unsolicited bid of about $900 million.

“Due to the continued strength in the New York real estate market and impending fiscal cliff, he does not feel that this is an advantageous time to sell this iconic property,” Donna Snopek, chief financial officer of Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts LLC, said Monday.

The fiscal cliff refers to federal spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to take effect if Congress doesn't act by the end of the year.

Warner, the Beanie Babies creator, received the offer from an unidentified Asian buyer, a person close to the situation said three weeks ago.

Warner bought the 368-room hotel, located on East 57th Street in Midtown, for $275 million in 1999.

A deal for $900 million would have been one of the priciest in Manhattan.

A recent hotel transaction in the area was Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc.'s September purchase of the luxury Essex House, on Central Park South, for $362.3 million.

Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts also owns the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, Calif., and Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos, Mexico, according to the company's website.
Nebraska bank honored

(AP) -- A Kearney, Neb. bank has been honored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its support of rural home ownership.

The USDA's Rural Development office called Farmers & Merchants Bank one of its top ten lenders in 2012.

The bank provided nearly $3.5 million for 35 home loans through the USDA program.

This year, 71 Nebraska lenders participated in the rural development housing programs.

More than $115.7 million was lent to 1,206 rural Nebraska households.

The federal government guarantees loans in the program to encourage home ownership in rural areas with populations of less than 20,000.
MBIA foils BofA

(Bloomberg) -- MBIA Inc. bought back $170 million of notes and got enough support from other bondholders to complete a debt amendment that shields itself from being dragged into bankruptcy by a cash-strapped unit.

MBIA (NYSE: MBI) said a majority of investors holding almost $900 million of bonds approved changes to indentures that would have accelerated payments if its MBIA Insurance Corp. subsidiary were to be seized by regulators.

To gain enough bondholder support, MBIA repurchased about 52 percent of its outstanding 5.7 percent bonds due in December 2034, which Bank of America Corp. had offered to buy on Nov. 13 in an effort to block the changes.

BofA, which bought products from the MBIA Insurance unit protecting the lender from losses on more than $6 billion of debt, sued the insurer over a 2009 restructuring that it claims was based on misleading information.

Armonk, N.Y.- based MBIA is separately suing the bank, seeking to force it to buy back faulty loans in insured mortgage-backed securities, and claims the bank is delaying that case to starve it of cash.
Dominican water deal

(Bloomberg) -- About 330,000 residents of the second-largest city in the Dominican Republic will gain improved drinking water and reduce leak losses with a $25 million Inter-American Development Bank project loan.

The Santiago de los Caballeros project is expected to provide water service for at least 12 continuous hours a day for more than 200,000 people, the development bank said in a statement.

The funds will help finance improvements in service for 60 percent of the households in the Santiago metropolitan area, the IDB said.

The 25-year loan with an interest rate based on Libor will replace pipes and renovate pumping systems.
Selling bureaucrat housing

(Bloomberg) -- Japan's government plans to raise 170 billion yen ($2.1 billion) by selling 56,000 houses and units that are currently lent cheaply to officials.

The proceeds from the sale will be spent on reconstruction after last year's earthquake and tsunami, Vice Finance Minister Koichi Takemasa said Monday.

The sale will be completed over the next four years and covers about 26 percent of the government's housing stock for civil servants, according to a statement from the Ministry of Finance.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's government is selling assets and cutting administrative spending as it plans to double the sales tax.

The sale was originally announced last December as Japan struggles with the world's largest public debt.

The government will also double the rent that bureaucrats pay for the remaining housing, starting in April 2014, according to the statement.

An unmarried official living in central Tokyo would pay as much as 19,000 yen a month after the increase, up from the current 9,000 yen to 13,000 yen.
Living near the Tower

(Bloomberg) -- CPC Group, the developer owned by Christian Candy, asked for planning permission to build 165 apartments near the Tower of London.

CPC bought the Sugar Quay site in the City of London financial district in February and is seeking to develop an 11-story building with apartments and a shop on the bank of the River Thames near Tower Bridge, the closely-held company said Monday.

Developers are turning obsolete commercial buildings into apartments in the City of London as non-prime offices on the fringes of the financial district become difficult to lease.

Architects Foster + Partners have been working with CPC on the development proposal, according to the statement.

The site already had planning permission for an office building when it was bought by Guernsey, Channel Islands-based CPC, according to the company.
Irish prices fall

(Bloomberg) -- Irish residential property prices fell for the first time in four months in October, as home prices declined by 0.2 percent in Dublin, the Irish capital, the country's Central Statistics Office (CSO) said.

Home prices nationally declined 0.6 percent in October compared with a gain of 0.9 percent in September, according to the CSO Monday.

Prices nationally fell 8.1 percent compared to the same month a year earlier.

Residential property prices in Dublin are 56 percent lower than their peak in 2007, while nationally prices are down 50 percent.

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