(Bloomberg) -- A California real estate developer who sold billionaire Mark Zuckerberg rights to buy the house behind his Palo Alto home said the Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) founder didn't keep his end of the bargain.
Developer Mircea Voskerician says he gave the executive a 40 percent discount on the $4.3 million property in 2012 because he was promised introductions and referrals to boost his business that never materialized.
He sued Zuckerberg to get the house back, claiming fraud, breach of contract and misrepresentation.
Zuckerberg's lawyers argued Voskerician’s claim had no basis in law or fact.
But the developer won an early round in the case this week when a state court judge in San Jose provisionally refused Zuckerberg's request to throw out claims in the lawsuit.
Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas said the oral agreement Voskerician claims to have had with Zuckerberg isn't barred and that the developer can proceed with claims that the accord should be rescinded and the property returned, according to a tentative ruling published two days ago.
Voskerician was in contract to buy a house in Palo Alto that he planned to replace with a new one when he learned that Zuckerberg lived on the other side of the property's fence, according to his lawsuit.
In a series of meetings at the property and Facebook's headquarters, Zuckerberg said he wanted to buy the property from Voskerician, who’d already been offered $4.3 million by another developer, according to the complaint.
Zuckerberg said he couldn't pay that sum and wanted a discount, according to the lawsuit.
Voskerician sold him the property for $1.7 million.
In exchange for the discount, “Zuckerberg would introduce Voskerician to his friends, clients and associates and promote Voskerician's real estate development business,” according to the complaint.
The two had a written contract for the sale, and the promise of referrals “was reflected in a writing accepted by the parties as a statement of their written agreement,” according to the lawsuit.
David Draper, an attorney for Voskerician, declined to comment on the ruling. Patrick Gunn, Zuckerberg's attorney, didn’t immediately respond to a voice-mail message seeking comment.
The case is Voskerician v. Zuckerberg, 114CV264667, Superior Court of the California, County of Santa Clara (San Jose).
Athletics lease terms
(AP) -- The City Council has approved a 10-year lease extension that would keep the Oakland Athletics at the Coliseum -- but with several modifications opposed by A's management.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported the amendments approved Wednesday do not impact the economics of the deal.
Among the changes were a clarification of the notice the team must give the city before it would leave, and the definition of practices relating to parking and other matters.
A's president Mike Crowley said the team was disappointed that the council refused to sign off on lease terms that had already been approved by the joint Oakland-Alameda County board that operates O.co Coliseum. He said the team would have to review the amended terms.
Council President Pat Kernighan said she hoped the A's would accept the minor changes sought by the council.
Solar farm capital
(Bloomberg) -- Soltage-Greenwood, a joint venture formed last year between Jersey City-based Soltage LLC and London-based Libra Group's Greenwood Energy, has raised $70 million to build seven solar farms across Massachusetts and North Carolina.
The photovoltaic power plants will have a total capacity of 32 megawatts, the companies said Thursday.
John Hancock Life Insurance Co. arranged the equity financing for the joint venture, created to build and operate solar facilities for commercial customers.
Investors have committed more than $110 million for 13 Soltage-Greenwood projects in five states with a total generating capacity of 45 megawatts, according to the statement.
The plants, which could provide enough electricity for 36,000 U.S. homes, are expected to sell power through long-term agreements with utilities and municipalities.
Offshore NJ wind
(AP) -- The federal government is proposing leases for windmill power projects off the New Jersey coast.
The federal Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Management on Thursday proposed sale of leases for nearly 344,000 acres offshore New Jersey for commercial wind energy projects.
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., said the leases could eventually generate enough electricity to power 1 million homes.
The leases would cover an area about 7 miles off the coast of Atlantic City.
(Bloomberg) -- Bond investors are seeking to be paid more to potentially bear some of the losses on mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae in the biggest sale of a type of risk-sharing debt it began offering last year.
The government-backed mortgage giant may pay a floating rate of 3 percentage points more than a borrowing benchmark on $945 million of unrated notes in the $2.1 billion offering, the high end of an earlier range, according to a person with knowledge of the sale.
Washington-based Fannie sold $644.5 million of similar securities in a May deal at a spread of 2.6 percentage points.
The higher payments being sought and a slump in existing securities may show investor demand becoming sated.
Fannie Mae and competitor Freddie Mac are transferring more of their risk to the private market through bond sales and insurance policies that represent a model for the future of the $9.4 trillion U.S. home finance system envisioned under bipartisan legislation introduced this year.
Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Melvin L. Watt, who oversees the firms' conservatorships, said in May he wanted such risk-sharing transactions in the interim to keep “taxpayers from bearing all of the potential losses” as the companies back about 60 percent of new home loans.
(Bloomberg) -- Yaskawa Electric Corp., a Japanese machinery maker, will acquire Solectria Renewables LLC to expand its clean-energy business in the United States.
Yaskawa, based in Kitakyushu, will buy through a U.S. unit all shares Solectria owns, Yaskawa said Thursday, without giving a price or timeline.
Massachusetts-based Solectria makes inverters, which convert direct current output from solar panels to alternating current electricity.
The acquisition will allow Yaskawa to expand its product lineups, according to the statement.
Yaskawa makes inverters for small solar projects, while Solectria's products are aimed at large-scale solar ventures.
Earlier this month, Yaskawa announced plans to acquire Finnish wind-parts maker The Switch Engineering Oy.
Blackstone bets on Spain
(Bloomberg) -- Blackstone Group LP, stepping up bets on Spain's economic recovery, is buying about 6.4 billion euros ($8.7 billion) of mortgages from CatalunyaCaixa SA for 3.6 billion euros.
Blackstone was the winner in the process known as “Hercules” that began in April, Barcelona-based CatalunyaCaixa said Thursday.
As many as 12 funds participated in the initial round and four groups presented binding offers, the lender said.
FROB, the state bank rescue fund that controls Spanish lenders nationalized in a process that led the country to seek 41 billion euros in European bailout funds in 2012, is now seeking a buyer for CatalunyaCaixa after cleaning up its balance sheet.
Thursday's sale of the mortgage portfolio bolsters the lender’s capital ratios and allows the sale process to go ahead, the bank said.
The transaction includes transferring the mortgage portfolio to a securitization fund for an amount equal to the 4.2 billion-euro book value of the loans.
Blackstone will pay 3.6 billion euros and FROB will contribute 572 million euros, FROB said.
The assets sold to Blackstone (NYSE: BX) consist mostly of residential mortgages concentrated in the region of Catalonia, according to a sale document for the portfolio seen by Bloomberg News.
After the Blackstone deal, the bank's capital ratio known as CET1 is 14.9 percent with a 81.6 percent coverage ratio, CatalunyaCaixa said.
Cerberus Capital Management LP, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Lone Star Funds and Oaktree Capital Group LLC were also among investors that took part in the bidding, people familiar with the sale said July 2.