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Broker for Escondido

ESCONDIDO – Cassidy Turley San Diego announced that it has been selected as the exclusive marketing, leasing and sales representation firm for a 10-plus property portfolio for the city of Escondido.

Andrew Peterson, Bruce Schiff and Phil Lyons will represent the city in the leasing and sale of its retail properties and land parcels.

Don Grant and Jim Benson will handle the industrial properties, while Mark Avilla, Matty Sundberg and Bob Cowan will handle the office properties.

“The city of Escondido will be bringing their portfolio of properties to the market in phases,” Peterson said.

The goal is to raise capital by disposing of its unused properties as well as re-tenant the centers that are being utilized to increase revenue to the city and revitalize the surrounding areas.

Simon renovation

INDIANAPOLIS -- Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG) announced the renovation of the 2.3-million-square-foot Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, Calif., in the South Bay market of greater Los Angeles.

In conjunction with Simon's redevelopment plans for the enclosed mall, Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN) Monday also announced its intention to relocate its full-line store at South Bay Galleria to Del Amo.

The new Nordstrom store will be 138,000 square-feet on two levels, and is expected to open in 2015.

Del Amo Fashion Center is owned by Simon Property and institutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

The two-year redevelopment will begin in spring 2013 by replacing the existing food court with a garden-inspired dining area and renovating the interior of a portion of the north mall, which will be completed by holiday 2013.

Starting in early 2014, the redevelopment will include the demolition of the remaining portion of the original north mall, replacing it with a new two-level mall to connect the existing Macy's women's store with the new Nordstrom store.

The redevelopment will also include the addition of a 1,800 car parking garage, landscaping, upgraded parking throughout, new signage, and improvements to circulation in and around the property.

Completion of this work will be timed with the grand opening of Nordstrom in 2015.

UNLV stadium

(AP) -- Plans for a stadium on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus have moved a giant step closer to reality.

The Nevada Board of Regents unanimously voted Friday in favor of a campus master plan that includes the 60,000-seat stadium.

The action paves the way for UNLV and its private partner Majestic Realty Co. to move ahead with plans to build the stadium.

According to a study released Friday, the stadium could pump $393 million a year into the Las Vegas economy, and draw at least 15 new, major events to the city.

In addition to luring outside events such as an NFL exhibition game or the Electric Daisy Carnival, the stadium also would replace aging Sam Boyd Stadium as the site for UNLV football games.

Acquisition in Mexico

(Bloomberg) -- Servicios Corporativos Javer SAPI, a Mexican homebuilder, acquired most of Empresas ICA SAB's housing assets.

ICA, Mexico's largest construction company, said it sold 20 housing developments to Javer in exchange for a 23 percent stake in the Mexican homebuilder.

Javer, which is backed by Southern Cross Group and an affiliate of Evercore Partners Inc., is also in the process of securing a term loan to help refinance 600 million pesos ($46.4 million) in associated project debt as part of the deal.

The transaction gives Javer the scale it needs to execute its strategy over the next three years while freeing up ICA to focus on infrastructure projects, the companies said.

As Mexico City-based ICA has expanded its civil construction business, the company's homebuilding arm had an operating margin of 2.2 percent during the first nine months of the year, down from 7.8 percent in the same period last year.

Javer, based in Monterrey, will expand into six new cities in five states by acquiring the ICA assets. The deal could contribute 7,000 units per year to Javer's output.

Pro forma annualized sales will be about 7.6 billion pesos, with volume of 25,000 housing units and land reserves equivalent to approximately 160,000 units, according to the statement.

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2013.

FDIC sues bank founder

(Bloomberg) -- R. Charles Loudermilk, the founder of furniture rental company Aaron's Inc., was sued by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) over $21.8 million in bad real estate loans made by the failed Buckhead Community Bank.

Loudermilk, 85, the bank's founder and former chairman, and other directors and officers “knowingly or recklessly” approved commercial real estate loans that violated the bank’s underwriting policies, the FDIC said in a complaint filed Nov. 30 in federal court in Atlanta.

Buckhead Community Bank was started by Loudermilk in 1998 and failed on Dec. 4, 2009, the FDIC said. The Atlanta-based bank's directors and executives “failed to follow the fundamental tenets of banking” in managing the loan portfolio, the FDIC said.

The FDIC is seeking $21.8 million in compensatory damages from the defendants. Losses to the Deposit Insurance Fund total $372.4 million, according to David Barr, a spokesman for the agency. Loudermilk was the largest shareholder of the bank's parent company, Buckhead Community Bancorp, the FDIC said.

Loudermilk founded Aaron's (NYSE: AAN) in 1958 and remains chairman emeritus.

In 2008, a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A), Cort Business Services, bought Aaron’s corporate furniture division for $72 million.

The case is Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. v. Loudermilk, 12-cv-04156, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta).

Reducing potency

(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William C. Dudley said a wider gap between yields on mortgage-backed securities and home loans is reducing the potency of the central bank's monetary stimulus.

While there is “solid evidence” that the Fed's monthly purchases of $40 billion in housing debt have been effective in lowering yields, “the impact of monetary easing on the economy through housing and mortgage finance has been impeded to some degree,” Dudley said Monday.

For the Fed's stimulus to achieve its “full impact,” he said, lower yields on mortgage-backed securities must pass through to interest rates on home loans.

“To the extent that the primary-secondary rate spread widens, the reduction in pass-through limits the full impact of the policy actions,” he said.

R.I. turbines

(AP) – Providence, R.I., is getting three new wind turbines that will be used to power a city wastewater plant.

The turbine project is at the Field's Point Wastewater Treatment Facility near the city's waterfront.

The Narragansett Bay Commission built the turbines at a cost of $14 million. Federal clean water funds were used for the project.

Florida waterways

(AP) -- The EPA late Friday said it was approving rules drafted by the state for only about 15 percent of Florida's 100,000 miles of waterways while adopting its own rules for the rest.

Earlier Friday -- the deadline for implementing a settlement with environmental groups -- Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson filed a federal court notice in Tallahassee saying EPA would comply with the agreement.

The environmental groups that sued the agency, alleging it was dragging its heels on the issue, favor the EPA rules and contend the state's alternative proposal is too weak to halt pollution that's causing toxic algae blooms choking the state's waters, killing fish and making people sick.

Agriculture, business and utility interests as well as Florida officials and political leaders favor the state's proposal, arguing the EPA rules would be too expensive to implement.

Green buys apartments

(Bloomberg) -- SL Green Realty Corp., New York City's largest office landlord, agreed to buy a recently completed apartment building in Brooklyn for its first residential investment in the borough.

The 84-unit property in the Williamsburg section is atop a commercial condominium that the New York-based real estate investment trust bought in 2010, SL Green said Monday. The price, seller and address weren't disclosed.

SL Green has been seeking to expand into New York residential property and tap into the rising market for apartments.

In January, it joined Stonehenge Partners in a $193 million deal to acquire seven retail and multifamily properties in Manhattan's Midtown and Upper East Side neighborhoods.

The Williamsburg property includes 72 apartments and 12 townhouses, according to the statement.

The three-bedroom townhouses each have 1,850 square feet, a ground-level garden and rooftop terrace.

The property's retail portion includes a drugstore, a bank branch, and a 142-car garage.

The statement didn't make clear whether the units would be rented or sold.

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of March, the company said.

Rents for one-bedroom apartments in Williamsburg rose 11 percent in the 12 months through October to $3,332 a month, according to the brokerage MNS.

MGIC advances

(Bloomberg) -- MGIC Investment Corp., the mortgage insurer that breached regulators' capital limits, advanced the most on the KBW Insurance Index after saying Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC) will allow the company to continue selling coverage.

MGIC (NYSE: MGC) shares have retreated 49 percent this year.

The insurer is transferring $100 million to a subsidiary to maintain approval from government mortgage buyer Freddie Mac, Milwaukee-based MGIC said Nov. 30.

MGIC will also pay $100 million to Freddie Mac by next week and $167.5 million more in 48 installments, beginning in January.

The payments help resolve a coverage dispute, over which the companies reached a preliminary agreement in October.

MGIC said it will record a $267.5 million charge in the current quarter.

Loews' hotel deal

(Bloomberg) -- Loews Corp.'s hotel division agreed to buy the 356-room Madison Hotel in Washington, entering the city as part of an expansion in major markets and resort areas.

The seller was Jamestown Properties, which oversaw a $23 million renovation of the property this year, according to New York-based Loews, a holding company. The price of the transaction wasn't disclosed.

“The hotel's quality, coupled with the addition of the Loews (NYSE: L) brand, will give us a strong competitive position in the D.C. market,” Loews said in the statement.

Loews Hotels & Resorts is “aggressively” seeking to buy properties and plans to add substantially to its portfolio in the next five years, according to the statement.

It wants to be similar in size to Four Seasons Hotels Inc. and Marriott International Inc.'s (NYSE: MAR) Ritz-Carlton brand, with about 60 to 70 properties, Paul Whetsell, president and chief executive officer said earlier this year.

The company currently has 18 hotels and resorts, according to its website.

Host acquisitions

(Bloomberg) -- A Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. joint venture acquired five hotels in Paris and Amsterdam for about 440 million euros ($574 million).

The hotels, which total 1,733 rooms, were purchased from Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s (NYSE: GS) Whitehall Real Estate Funds, according to a statement Monday by Bethesda, Md.-based Host (NYSE: HST).

The company, the largest U.S. lodging real estate investment trust, holds a 33.4 percent stake in the joint venture.

The deal will be funded in part by a 250 million-euro loan, secured by the properties, at a 4.4 percent interest rate, according to the statement.

The hotels in the deal are the 757-room Paris Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center, the 402-room Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel, the 327-room Renaissance Paris La Defense Hotel, the 97-room Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel, and the 150-room Courtyard Paris La Defense West-Colombes, according to the statement.

Kansas wind farm

(Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co., MetLife Inc. and UnionBanCal Corp. invested almost $247 million in a 201-megawatt wind farm in central Kansas owned by NTR Plc.

The wind farm 80 miles northwest of Wichita uses 134 1.5-megawatt GE (NYSE: GE) turbines, the Fairfield, Conn.-based power-equipment supplier's GE Energy Financial Services unit said Monday.

UK high-speed

(Bloomberg) -- Opponents of a proposed 33 billion-pound ($53 billion) high-speed rail line to run through England said the U.K. government hadn't properly consulted people living on the route or weighed the environmental damage.

The government approved the line, known as High Speed 2, with “no information about the environmental impact of more than half the scheme,” said Nathalie Lieven, a lawyer for local authorities, to a court charged with reviewing the decision.

High Speed 2 trains could reach speeds as high as 225 miles per hour and would run between London and Northern England via Birmingham.

The line would run through the Chiltern hills, designated a so-called area of natural beauty. Local governments, residents and a golf club near the route oppose the project as noisy, intrusive and ugly.

U.K. lawmakers approved the project in January, saying it would improve rail infrastructure, reduce journey times, ease overcrowding on existing lines and improve northern cities' access to London’s economy.

Tunnel ceiling falls

(AP) -- Japanese officials ordered the immediate inspection of 49 tunnels across the country Monday after nine people were killed when concrete ceiling slabs fell from the roof of a highway tunnel onto moving vehicles below.

Those killed in Sunday's accident were in three vehicles in the 3-mile long Sasago Tunnel about 50 miles west of Tokyo.

The tunnel, on a highway that links the capital to central Japan, opened in 1977 and is one of many in the mountainous country.

An estimated 270 concrete slabs, each weighing 1.4 metric tons (1.54 short tons), suspended from the arched roof of the tunnel fell over a stretch of about 120 yards, Noguchi said.

The operator was exploring the possibility that bolts holding a metal piece suspending the panels above the road had become aged, he said.

The panels, measuring about 16 feet by 4 feet, and 3 inches thick, were installed when the tunnel was constructed in 1977.

An inspection of the tunnel's roof in September found nothing amiss, according to Satoshi Noguchi, a company official.

3,000 homes

(AP) -- The French and British governments have summoned the Israeli ambassadors to protest the decision to approve 3,000 new homes on Israeli-occupied territory.

The Israeli envoy to Paris was called to a meeting late Monday morning, according to a statement from the French foreign ministry spokesman, Philippe Lalliot.

France, which was the first country to announce its support for the Palestinian effort to win U.N. recognition for their state, also sent a letter to the Israeli government, calling the decision “a considerable obstacle to the two-state solution.”

Britain, which abstained in the U.N. vote, called on Israel to reverse the decision as it summoned Israel's ambassador Daniel Taub to the Foreign Office.

Record Japanese ARMs

(Bloomberg) -- Homebuyers are taking out the most floating-rate loans on record just as the front-runner to become Japan's next leader calls for steps to fuel inflation, raising concern over potential defaults.

Variable-cost mortgages rose to 57.3 percent of new lending, the most on record, the latest figures from government-affiliated Japan Housing Finance Agency show.

Demand was fueled by average adjustable-rate mortgage costs at 2.475 percent last month, near the record-low reached in 2001. That compared with the average U.S. one-year ARM of 2.56 percent.

An increase in lower-income households applying for the adjustable mortgages has magnified the chances of a surge in defaults should borrowing costs rise, according to Daiwa Institute of Research Holdings Ltd.

“Once the rates go up, it could cause Japan's version of the subprime loan crisis,” said Yasuo Sugeno, the director of Financial & Capital Market Research Department of Daiwa Institute, a unit of Japan’s second-largest brokerage.

French-Italian tunnel

(Bloomberg) -- The French and Italian governments Monday signed an accord saying the building of a 57-kilometer rail tunnel under the Alps to connect Lyon and Turin is “an absolute priority” and that they will ask the European Union to foot 40 percent of the 8.5-billion euro cost.

Irish mansion tax

(Bloomberg) -- Ireland's government plans to levy a so-called mansion tax on homes worth in excess of 1 million euros ($1.3 million), a person familiar with the matter said.

The rate on such homes may be set at 0.25 percent of the value, compared with a 0.18 percent rate for properties below the 1 million-euro threshold, according to the person, who declined to be identified, as the matter is private until the nation's budget is announced on Dec. 5.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said Sunday the government may allow lower-income households to defer paying the tax until the asset is sold.

Some elderly people may be able to postpone payment until their estate is split up after death, Burton said.

Restrictions lifted

(Bloomberg) -- France lifted water-use restrictions for industries, farmers and domestic users across most of the country after rain in the past two months replenished soils and ground-water reservoirs, government data show.

Limits on water use remain in place in two of France's 96 administrative departments, down from seven last week and 50 in the middle of September, online data from the Environment Ministry show.

France had a relatively wet October, with rainfall 31 percent more than normal for the period, improving soil humidity levels in the east and north of the country, the Agriculture Ministry reported last month.

Restrictions remain some regions due to low levels of the Champigny aquifer southeast of Paris, according to a Nov. 26 government decree.

The aquifer covers about 1,656 square miles, and is the main underground source of drinking water for the Ile-de-France region, according to Aqui'brie, which monitors the reservoir.

The aquifer's levels have been falling for the past 20 years, and mathematical models show the reservoir is being over-used, according to Aqui’brie, a government-funded association of water users, institutions, consumers and environmental groups.

Wafer firm cuts

(Bloomberg) -- LDK Solar Co., the second-largest maker of wafers for solar panels, cut its full-year forecasts for sales and shipments due to lower demand in the industry.

The company expects revenue of $950 million to $1 billion for the 2012 fiscal year, down from $1.1 billion to $1.5 billion in September.

LDK sees 2012 wafer shipments of 910 to 960 megawatts, compared with an earlier forecast of 900 to 1,200 megawatts.

It also anticipates 500 to 530 megawatts in cells and modules, down from 550 to 750 megawatts.

Solar manufacturers are contending with a global glut that's driving down prices and cutting into margins as governments from Europe to the U.S. reduce support.

LDK received a bailout in July for part of its more than $3.5 billion in debt from the local authority of Xinyu, the Chinese city where it's based.

Last month it also sold a 19.9 percent stake to Heng Rui Xin Energy Co., a company that's partly owned by the authority.

LDK's net loss for the third quarter widened to $136.9 million from $114.5 million in the year-earlier period as revenue dropped.

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