Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One Georgia Bank Ranks No. 1

(BUSINESS WIRE)--One Georgia Bank grew its small-business loan volume faster than any other bank in the state as of June 30, processing more than $11 million in loans approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

This places One Georgia Bank firmly in front of the pack, with its nearest competitor behind by more than $1 million in dollar volume.

SBA approved 14 7(a) loans for One Georgia Bank totaling $11.2 million through June 30th for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2008, and ending September 30, 2009.

“It’s the nation’s small businesses that will drive any economic upturn,” said Willard “Chuck” Lewis, President and Chief executive officer of One Georgia Bank. “We’re pleased to provide the gas.”

One Georgia Bank started its SBA lending department in March 2008 and by September 30th of that year had processed more than $6 million in SBA-approved 7(a) loans. By December, the bank was named a Preferred Lender by the SBA, giving One Georgia Bank the ability to process small-business loans faster. This helped the company earn the SBA’s Pacesetter Award for 2008.

One Georgia Bank also participates in the SBA’s Patriot Express program for military families and the SBA CapLines program for homebuilders.

“One Georgia Bank remains committed to small-business lending during this period of economic adversity,” said Kevin L. Clingman, Vice President and Manager of SBA Lending at One Georgia Bank. “Small-business owners can count on us.”

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fidelity Southern Corporation Declares Third Quarter Stock Dividend

/PRNewswire/ -- Fidelity Southern Corporation (NASDAQ:LION) announced that the Board of Directors has approved the distribution on August 13, 2009, of the regular quarterly dividend to be paid in shares of common stock. The Corporation will distribute one new share for every 200 shares held on the record date of August 3, 2009.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Georgia Gulf Announces Additional Debt Forbearances

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Georgia Gulf Corporation (the “Company”) (NYSE: GGC) announced that extensions of its forbearance agreements have now been entered into with the holders of over 79 percent of the Company’s 10.75% Senior Subordinated Notes due 2016 (the “2016 notes”). Earlier today, the Company had announced that it had entered into extensions to its forbearance agreements with holders of 26 percent of the 2016 notes, and that it was continuing to seek extensions of its forbearance agreements with other holders of its notes and from the lenders under its senior secured credit agreement, which forbearance agreements expired July 15, 2009.

The forbearance agreements provide for the Company to continue to withhold the $34.5 million of interest payments due April 15, 2009 on the Company’s 9.5% Senior Notes due 2014 (the “2014 Notes”) and the 2016 notes and the $3.6 million interest payment due June 15, 2009 on the 7.125% Senior Notes due 2013.

The Company has now entered into extensions to the forbearance agreements with a sufficient number of additional holders of its 2016 notes to comprise the requisite percentage thereof to ensure that such indebtedness may not be accelerated under the indentures for such notes by the holders thereof prior to the earlier of and the first day on which (i) the indebtedness under any issue of the notes is accelerated; (ii) any other remedies with respect to any issue of notes are exercised; (iii) the requisite lenders under the senior secured credit agreement accelerate indebtedness thereunder due to the interest payments being withheld by the Company or (iv) July 30, 2009.

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Georgia Gulf Announces Extension of Expiration Date for Private Debt Exchange Offers

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Georgia Gulf Corporation (the “Company”) (NYSE: GGC) today announced it has extended the expiration date for its private offers to exchange its outstanding 7.125 percent Senior Notes due 2013 (the “2013 notes”), 9.5 percent Senior Notes due 2014 (the “2014 notes”) and 10.75 percent Senior Subordinated Notes due 2016 (the “2016 notes” and, collectively with the 2013 notes and 2014 notes, the “notes”) and related consent solicitations (the “exchange offers”) until 12:00 midnight, New York City time July 22, 2009.

The exchange offers provide for the exchange of the three issues of outstanding notes totaling $800 million in aggregate principal amount for an aggregate of 32,050,000 shares of the Company’s convertible preferred stock, which are convertible into shares of its common stock on a one-for-one basis, and an aggregate of 1,430,000 shares of its common stock after giving effect to the previously announced 1-for-25 reverse stock split of the Company’s common stock.

Each exchange offer will expire at 12:00 midnight, New York City time, on July 22, 2009, unless extended. As of 5:00 PM ET July 16, 2009 approximately $ 653.1 million, or 81.6 percent of the aggregate principal amount of the notes had been tendered in the exchange offers, comprised of $ 60.4 million, $434.6 million and $158.1 million of the $100 million, $500 million and $200 million in principal amount outstanding of the 2013, 2014 and 2016 notes, respectively. Full details of the exchange offers and related consent solicitations are included in the offering memorandum for these exchange offers, copies of which are available to Eligible Holders (as defined below) from Global Bondholder Services Corporation, the information agent, by calling (212) 430-3774 or toll free at (866) 873-7700.

The exchange offers have been made, and the shares of convertible preferred stock and shares of common stock are being offered and will be issued, in a private transaction in reliance upon an exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, only to holders of the notes (i) in the United States, that are “qualified institutional buyers,” as that term is defined in Rule 144A under the Securities Act, or (ii) outside the United States, that are persons other than “U.S. persons,” as that term is defined in Rule 902 under the Securities Act, in offshore transactions in reliance upon Regulation S under the Securities Act (collectively, the “Eligible Holders”).

Neither the shares of convertible preferred stock nor the shares of common stock have been registered under the Securities Act of 1933 or any state securities laws and may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration or an applicable exemption from the registration requirements.

This press release does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any security and shall not constitute an offer, solicitation or sale in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

PricewaterhouseCoopers Report: Second Quarter IPO Market Records First Increase in Activity Since 2007

/PRNewswire/ -- The volume of United States (US) initial public offerings (IPOs) continued to remain low in the first half of 2009. For the first six months, there were only 14 IPOs that raised $2.3 billion, a significant drop from the 43 offerings that generated $27.7 billion for the same period in 2008. The first half of 2008 saw the largest US IPO in history, the $ 17.9 billion Visa Inc. IPO, which skewed the amount of proceeds raised during that period. By comparison, the largest IPO in the first half of 2009 was the $720 million Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. IPO.

A quarter-over-quarter comparison saw an increase in IPO activity in the second quarter of 2009 for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2007. The downward trend in IPO volume started in the first quarter of 2008 and reached its lowest point in the first quarter of 2009. That quarter (Q1 2009) saw only two IPOs that raised $722 million, the lowest in terms of volume in recent history. There were 12 IPOs that raised $1.6 billion in the second quarter of 2009 compared with 18 IPOs that raised $5.1 billion in the second quarter of 2008.

"A few select companies were able to take advantage of the capital markets which started to improve in late March," said Scott Gehsmann, a capital markets partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers' Transaction Services practice. "As we move toward the later part of the year, we will see more companies testing the IPO waters."

The first six months of 2009 saw eight financial sponsor-backed IPOs, comprising 57% of the total volume, and raising an aggregate of $1.0 billion or 44% of the total proceeds. This is significantly higher than 26% of the total volume and 6% of the total proceeds during the same period in 2008.

China was the only non-US issuer, and had four offerings that raised $0.3 billion in proceeds during the first half of 2009. There were 11 non-US issuer IPOs during the same period in 2008, raising $1.6 billion in proceeds.

The NYSE continued to lead in 2009 IPO volume with 11 IPOs raising $2.0 billion in proceeds, 88% of the total proceeds raised during the first six months of 2009.

Similar to the US, global IPO activity saw modest growth in the second quarter of 2009. Europe brought 28 companies public in the April to June period raising $0.8 billion, but that paled in comparison to the second quarter of 2008 when there were 133 offerings raising $18.3 billion. The four largest IPOs of the second quarter accounted for 88% of the total money raised. Hong Kong saw 18 IPOs that raised $2.2 billion in the first half of 2009, which was a 66% drop in terms of value from the same period in 2008. Similar to other markets, the majority of the IPOs in Hong Kong in the first half of 2009 occurred during the second quarter. Brazil witnessed Latin America's largest offering with the $4.3 billion Visanet IPO in June 2009. This was also the largest IPO globally in the first half of 2009.

"Stronger second quarter IPO activity bodes well for the second half of the year," noted Gehsmann. "In fact, a number of companies have already begun to assess their IPO-readiness in preparation for the inevitable return of the IPO market."

US IPO Watch is a quarterly survey of all IPOs listed on US exchanges. These include IPOs by domestic and foreign companies, best-efforts, business development companies, filings with the FDIC, and bank demutualizations. IPOs do not include unit investment trusts and fully classified closed-end funds. Visit our website,, for our 2006, 2007 and 2008 US IPO Watch reports.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

PricewaterhouseCoopers Outlook: Merger and Acquisition Environment to Be One of High Risk, High Reward for Remainder of 2009

/PRNewswire/ -- In the current credit market where access to syndicated loans to finance large transactions remains limited, one of the few places that deals are getting done in the U.S. is in the middle market, according to the Transaction Services group of PricewaterhouseCoopers. For the first half of 2009, 135 middle market deals were announced with an aggregate deal value of $39.2 billion. "As in the last recession, it's the smaller transactions that are getting financed because deals of that size don't require assistance from the capital markets or the structuring of highly leveraged loans," said Robert Filek, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers' Transaction Services practice.

Also on the deal horizon for the rest of 2009 will be a few large, bellwether transactions orchestrated by adventurous dealmakers willing to operate in a very high risk, high reward M&A environment, where rigorous due diligence will undoubtedly be integral. "There is no doubt that within the next 18 months, some of the deals that get done will be looked upon as the most lucrative, potentially in the last couple of decades," said Filek. "It's really an era for explorers, who are willing to try and navigate in unchartered territory, and great riches may await for those who venture there. However, as explorers have found for centuries, riches are difficult to find and many explorers never return."

Among the riskiest types of deal activity in this recessionary market are cross-border M&A transactions. In terms of outbound activity, PricewaterhouseCoopers does not expect that CEOs of U.S. companies will be very aggressive in looking outside of the borders. One exception for cross-border M&A will be extremely opportunistic situations or merger of necessity circumstances where a company's key suppliers are going out of business and they need to firm up their supply chain.

Different from previous recessions, PricewaterhouseCoopers believes this one will result in global restructuring, and in the process global economies are in the midst of a long period of slower, more volatile growth. Filek stated, "Because this recession has been global and because all of the government stimulus packages are not created equal, it is likely that emerging markets like China and India will accelerate more quickly than other economies. We would expect that we will see an increase in Chinese acquisitions of U.S. and European companies."

Expanding on acquisition activity in Asia, Greg Peterson, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers' Transaction Services practice observed that developing countries continue to pursue commodities. "If you look at acquisitions coming out of Asia they tend to be very strategic and centered around transport and commodities because both are critical to continued growth. China, in particular has the capital to pursue those areas aggressively," he noted.

As forecast in PricewaterhouseCoopers' initial 2009 M&A outlook release, the deal landscape has seen an uptick in distressed investments across several sectors, which Peterson expects will continue. "A number of private equity funds historically cut their teeth in distressed deals and morphed into private equity funds in previous cycles," he said. "You have a host of private equity players who know how to do distressed, and do it well. Overall the private equity funds have in excess of $1 trillion waiting to be deployed but it will not be done without discipline."

Peterson noted that standalone distressed funds have raised billions in capital that will be deployed by either going after equity or transactions, allocating it to upside down balance sheets or to buying debt as a means of gaining control of a company or a way to be in a lead position through bankruptcy. The number of U.S. businesses filing for bankruptcy totaled 14,319 for the first three months of 2009 compared to 8,713 filings for the first three months of 2008, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. Peterson noted the lack of reliable DIP (Debtor-In-Possession) financing in this recession will lead to more companies and investors negotiating their re-financing packages out of court or, where unsuccessful, perhaps even moving directly to Chapter 7.

According to Thomson Reuters, announced U.S. deal value and volume through May 2009 totaled $248.7 billion and 2,507 deals respectively, down from $428.6 billion and 3,750 deals for the same period in 2008. Private equity accounted 5% of the U.S. deal value and 20% of volume for the first five months of 2009, compared with 26% and 17%, respectively, for the same period in 2008. With regard to new deal activity, Peterson noted from the private equity perspective that deal volume and pipeline will continue to be slow for the balance of 2009 because of uncertainty around leveraged markets assisting private equity in the short term, and a fall off in club deals... "There may be some exceptions such as high-profile opportunities where the government or seller would make financing available or there may be some bolt-on opportunities to existing portfolio companies, but the folks with the checkbooks and the currency right now seem to be the corporates."

Sectors that continue to present opportunities include...

-- Technology -This sector is poised for another wave of consolidation
with mature business models and healthy balance sheets.

-- Energy- The stabilized crude price and great cash flow prospects,
buttressed by continued opportunities to grow these businesses makes
this sector a consolidation hotspot.

-- Pharma/Healthcare-The healthcaresector will continue to be in the
spotlight, most notably pharmaceuticals with drug companies seeking to
fill their pipeline through acquisitions and focus on true core
competencies by selling non strategic divisions/operations. As the
Obama administration realigns the health care system, there are going
to be players who look to basically realign their business model to
take advantage of the emerging environment.

-- Financial services - Consolidation in this space will be rampant,
driven by mergers of necessity where companies combine because the
opportunity is compelling and the sellers have to exit, and in many
cases will be a distressed situation. Specifically in banking, there
will be a flight to quality, referring to banks performing in the
upper quartile and getting out from under TARP and heavy government

Both Peterson and Filek are optimistic about an upturn in the deal market. "There are a growing number of dealmakers, including private equity firms, who want to get on track now for the market's ultimate return," said Peterson.

Similarly, Filek sees opportunities for companies on both ends of the spectrum - those that have been moderately affected by the recession and those that have been hurt badly. "While some companies will be compelled to make acquisitions only if it is key to their survival, others may believe that it is a good time to combine with a partner and prepare for the uptick in the economy. We are seeing early signs of restored confidence needed for the return of a robust M&A market, which can in part be attributed to stimulus activities beginning to take effect." Filek also noted that the "slower pace of deals getting done can be attributed, in part, to increased and more tightly controlled due diligence by both buyers and sellers, which is necessary in this environment."

*The accuracy of our previous forecast does not guarantee future accuracy.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wells Fargo and Wachovia Investment Banking and Capital Markets Businesses Branded as Wells Fargo Securities

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) today announced that its investment banking and capital markets businesses formerly operating under the Wachovia Securities and certain Wells Fargo brands will now operate under the brand Wells Fargo Securities.

The new Wells Fargo Securities brand will bring together the firm’s market-leading businesses in debt and equity underwriting, mergers and acquisitions, loan syndications, debt and equity sales and trading, tax-exempt products, research and economics, and certain hedging products such as equity derivatives.

As part of the brand change, Barrington Associates, Wells Fargo’s middle market mergers and acquisitions advisory division, will begin to operate exclusively under the Wells Fargo Securities brand. Eastdil Secured, Wells Fargo’s provider of real estate capital markets services, will continue to operate under its existing name and will offer securities products through Wells Fargo Securities.

“We have an enormous opportunity to become one of the top customer-focused investment banks in the country by focusing on the basics and on those businesses that directly serve our customers,” said Wells Fargo & Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf. “Clearly one of the great benefits of the Wachovia merger was the strong investment banking and capital markets platform that we gained. We plan to build on those strengths to grow and invest in the business as we continue to satisfy all of our customers’ financial needs.”

Wells Fargo Securities combines strong relationships and industry knowledge with superior capital markets and advisory capabilities. The brand includes two business lines – Investment Banking and Capital Markets, co-led by Rob Engel and Jonathan Weiss, and the Securities and Investment Group, led by John Shrewsberry – which serve both middle market and large U.S. corporate and institutional clients. Both businesses report to Tim Sloan, head of Wholesale Banking’s Commercial, Real Estate and Specialized Financial Services group.

“The Wells Fargo Securities brand brings together Wachovia’s market-leading investment banking businesses and Wells Fargo’s niche expertise to form a powerful investment banking and capital markets platform,” said Sloan. “We’re combining the top-rated customer service of both Wachovia and Wells Fargo with the strength of one of the nation’s largest banks and a set of investment banking products and services that are focused exclusively on the needs of our customers.”

Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $1.3 trillion in assets, providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance through more than 10,400 stores, over 12,000 ATMs, more than 900 corporate and commercial banking offices, and the internet ( across North America and internationally.

Wells Fargo Securities is the trade name for certain capital markets and investment banking services of Wells Fargo & Company and its subsidiaries, including Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, member FINRA and SIPC; Wachovia Bank, National Association; and Wachovia Securities International Limited, a U.K. investment firm authorized and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

As previously announced, retail brokerage products and services formerly marketed as Wachovia Securities are now offered through Wells Fargo Advisors.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

New FDIC Report Shows Rate-Limited Short-Term Loans Are Unprofitable and Unsustainable

/PRNewswire/ -- The FDIC's latest report on its Small-Dollar Loan Pilot Program sheds new light supporting the short-term payday loan industry financial model for those needing short-term financing.

Most of the banks that participated in the FDIC pilot program admit that their goal is not to earn profits, but is instead to "generate goodwill" within their respective communities and to qualify for government Community Reinvestment Act credit. Further, the 446 participating bank branches made a mere 8,346 loans over the course of a year, an average of one loan per branch every 20 days. In contrast, the short-term payday loan industry makes more than 100 million loans per year.

An artificial rate cap makes short-term lending unprofitable, as the FDIC report explains: "[g]iven the small size of SDLs (small-dollar loans)... the interest income and fees generated are often not sufficient to achieve short-term profitability." Instead, banks participating in the FDIC program use their low-priced loans to sell customers on other financial services, including checking accounts with extremely expensive overdraft protection fees.

The Small-Dollar loans in the FDIC's program are not comparable to short-term payday loans, as many participating banks have stringent qualification criteria for borrowers. For example, the FDIC cites Citizens Trust Bank as a case study in its report, but the bank requires borrowers to have been at their current address for at least a year, and to meet a fixed credit score requirement and show six months of income. Other banks require a linked savings account and credit report. In contrast, most short-term payday loans simply require a bank checking account and a paystub to qualify for a low-dollar loan.

"Adults are best served when they can choose among many competing lending options," said Samantha O'Neil, Communications Director at the Center for Consumer Freedom. "When Oregon set an APR rate cap, payday lenders left the state in droves and former payday borrowers increased their dependency on more expensive options, including checking account overdrafts." Other reports from the Federal Reserve Board in New York and university economists have echoed that concern.

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