Archive for July, 2012

Dealmaking down in Georgia in first half

Merger and acquisition activity declined in Georgia in the first half of 2012, although the value of deals increased.

The independent mergers and acquisitions intelligence service, mergermarket, said there were 47 deals in Georgia from January through June, a 20.3 percent decrease from the first half of 2011 when there were 59 deals.

However, the value of those deals was $5.8 billion, representing a 26.4 percent increase over the same period last year when the value totaled $4.6 billion.

“Although Georgia saw M&A announcements fall off in the first half of the year, the state’s dealmakers are hopeful for a more active second half,” said Chris Marr, of mergermarket. “M&A advisors tell me they’re seeing a good flow of companies coming up for sale, partly motivated by the threat of a capital gains tax increase in January.”

Marr said that, “Business owners who had been thinking about selling now see a looming deadline, even though Washington could opt to extend the tax cuts again, …

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How’d you like unlimited vacation days?

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

What would you do if you had an unlimited number of vacation days?

While some would call this unemployment, there are companies that embrace this radical approach giving employees a break – Netflix among them.

According to an MSNBC.com report on the practice, companies offering unlimited vacations don’t have to worry about the hassles of violating HR policies and keeping track of accrued time off.

The key, however, is accountability.

“Organizations that have had success with unlimited vacation, such as Netflix and Red Frog Events, rely strongly on accountability,” management consultant Matthew Stegmeier told MSNBC. “Employees must make sure all their responsibilities are covered prior to leaving, which often means counting on a colleague to pick up the slack.”

The work environment also must be big on self-motivation and self-discipline, and companies must have “mature high-performance employees,” according to Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed …

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Georgia Gulf finds a chemical business partner

Earlier this year, Atlanta-headquartered Georgia Gulf Corp. beat back a takeover effort by industry rival Westlake Chemical.

Thursday, the company announced it had a deal more to its liking.

PPG Industries will spin off its commodity chemicals business and merge it with Georgia Gulf in a new company.

Georgia Gulf shareholders will get 49.5 percent of the stock in the entity, while PPG’s will get 50.5 percent. PPG will get $900 million in cash and $1 billion in Georgia Gulf stock. The deal is expected to be done by late 2012 or early 2013.

Georgia Gulf president and CEO Paul Carrico, who will lead the new company, said it would be “a leading integrated chemicals and building products company …”

Georgia Gulf makes two chemical lines, chlorovinyls and aromatics, and vinyl-based building and home improvement products.

The company has 3,600 employees in the U.S. and Canada, although only 60 work at its Atlanta headquarters. The company was founded in 1985 through the acquisition …

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Georgia’s jobless rate rises to 9 percent in June

Georgia’s unemployment rate rose to 9 percent in June from 8.9 percent in May, representing the first increase in almost a year, the state labor department said Thursday.

The jobless rate was 9.9 percent a year ago.

“The unemployment rate traditionally inches up in June because new graduates and people hunting summer jobs enter the job market at the same time the private and public schools are laying off for the summer,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement.

The number of jobs dropped by 8,200 in June to total 3,933,300.

“The June job loss is a lot less than we anticipated, based on recent trends,” Butler said. “Despite the overall loss, we gained 1,500 manufacturing jobs and 900 in construction.”

The number of jobs in June was 45,200 more than in June 2011. The annual growth was in professional and business services, 23,900; trade, transportation, and warehousing, 15,200; education and health care, 7,300; manufacturing, 4,300; and leisure and hospitality, …

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Capital One to refund millions

Capital One Bank must pay $210 million in customer refunds and penalties for pressuring and misleading credit card customers into buying payment protection plans and credit monitoring services.

The sum includes $150 million in refunds and $60 in penalties, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The refunds to 2.5 million customers, who had to endure call center sales pitches while waiting to activate new cards, should be issued later this year, the federal agencies said.

“These marketing calls were inconsistent with the explicit instructions we provided to agents for how these products should be sold,” Ryan Schneider, president of Capital One’s card business, said in a statement. He said the credit card company fully cooperated with regulators.

Capital One, however, isn’t the only credit card company using deceptive marketing tactics to lure customers into the protection plans, and announcements …

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AT&T joins Verizon in offering ’shared data plans’

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

AT&T is joining the “shared data plan” bandwagon.

The company is following Verizon’s lead, announced in June, in allowing customers to bundle devices under one data plan. The cost benefit, however, will depend on the number of devices.

Sometime in August, new AT&T customers will have to choose a shared plan, but existing customers can keep their current plan, even if they upgrade their phones. Verizon customers who currently have an unlimited data plan and who want to upgrade to a new device must switch to the company’s Shared Everything or tiered data plans unless they buy the new device at full price.

AT&T’s Mobile Share plans – there are six -  will allow customers with a smartphone to add up to nine other devices, including tablets, gaming devices, feature phones, laptops, netbooks and external broadband cards. You’ll pay a monthly data fee, a monthly smartphone fee and monthly fees for every extra connected device.

The bottom line from …

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Retirement for the unemployed: a cracked nest egg

The title of a new study on the retirement outlook for unemployed Americans says it all: The Cracked Nest Egg.

And, no surprise, the report from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies paints a disturbing picture.

From the non-profit’s report:

– The majority (61 percent) of displaced workers reported having a retirement savings account of some kind. Yet, while 87 percent were familiar with the severe taxes and penalties that may apply when they withdraw funds from those accounts, 35 percent had done so.

– Of those who were in a 401(k) plan at their last  full-time employer, 45 percent had taken a withdrawal from these accounts. Notably, 63 percent of the unemployed had taken a withdrawal, compared to 34 percent of workers considered underemployed.

Among the displaced workers, including those with or without retirement accounts of their own, the estimated median household savings in retirement accounts was approximately $5,800.

“The Great Recession has led to a …

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Yahoo’s new CEO Mayer to work through maternity leave

Yahoo-CEO

(Associated Press)

Most expectant mothers who hold down a 9-to-5er welcome maternity leave as a period of recuperation and bonding with the new arrival.

This might be a challenge, however, for Marissa Mayer, a former Google executive and now the new chief executive officer of Yahoo. After the Monday announcement that she will take over  at Yahoo, Mayer disclosed that she and her husband, investor and entrepreneur Zack Bogue, are expecting a child in October.

Mayer, however, plans to do something many new moms on leave probably don’t even think about, or do they?

“My maternity leave will be a few weeks long, and I’ll work throughout it,” Mayer told the Yahoo board of trustees while interviewing for the job, according to NBCnews.com. In a tweet, she said she was expecting a baby boy.

Mayer, a 37-year-old expert in artificial intelligence, was a Google vice president in charge of Google Maps, Google Earth and Street View. According to CNN.com, she is responsible …

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg refinances home at 1.05 percent

Feeling pretty good about snagging a refi rate in the 3s, aren’t you?

Think you got a deal, don’t you?

Then listen to this, from Bloomberg: Mark Zuckerberg (you know, the guy in that movie who founded something called Facebook … worth a few mill, er, billion) just landed a 30-year adjustable rate mortgage at the rate of … 1.05 percent.

1.05 percent!

Now this begs a question or two. The first of which may be why a guy with such a stash of cash doesn’t just pull out his wallet and start peeling off hundreds, or whatever, and pay the thing off right then and there.

All right, so his manse in Palo Alto, Calif. cost $5.95 million … still, the guy’s worth nearly $16 billion.

The reason is basic economics. Getting to borrow that much at that low a rate _ sub-inflation _ is like getting the money for free. And the Big Z can get it because he’s a high net worther who is willing to pay a higher rate if the ARM spikes upward. Lots of folks wouldn’t want to take such a chance …

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Manufacturing lags in Georgia, U.S., but one good sign

There’s some troubling news out this morning about the manufacturing sector.

While more than 70 percent of jobs lost in service industries nationwide have returned three years after the recession’s end, only 15 percent of jobs lost in manufacturing, construction and other industries that produce goods have come back, USA Today reports, citing U.S. Labor Department data from January 2008 (that’s when total employment peaked)  through last month.

Every state in the nation lost manufacturing jobs from May 2007 to May of this year, reports WSB Radio, but Georgia was among the worst, it  notes, having lost 78,000 manufacturing jobs in that five-year period, making it one of the ten biggest losers.

“That did happen, no doubt about it. Georgia had a very large manufacturing base and a big part of that was textiles, which were directly related to construction,”  labor commissioner Mark Butler told WSB.

When the construction industry collapsed, manufacturing followed, Butler …

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