Daily Briefing


December 03, 2009

General Growth to emerge from Chapter 11

NEW YORK - General Growth Properties Inc. said Wednesday that lenders have agreed to restructure about $9.7 billion in debt under a plan that will allow the nation's second-largest shopping mall operator to emerge from bankruptcy protection by the end of the year. General Growth will pay off loans covering 92 regional shopping centers, offices, community centers and related subsidiaries. The plan will allow the real estate investment trust to retain ownership of the properties, including Harborplace & The Gallery in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. The Chicago-based company expanded aggressively during the real estate boom, amassing $27 billion in debt. As the real estate market imploded and financing dried up, General Growth was unable to refinance its short-term loans and in April became the largest U.S. real estate company to file for bankruptcy.

- Associated Press

Bank of America to repay TARP, raise cash

NEW YORK - Bank of America Corp. said Wednesday it plans to repay its $45 billion in government bailout funds in the next few days, a move that will help the troubled bank recruit a new CEO. The bank said in a statement it would use available cash and raise $18.8 billion in capital to repay the money, which it received during the height of the credit crisis last year and after its purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co. earlier this year. Bank of America has been searching for a successor to CEO Ken Lewis since the bank announced in late September that he planned to retire on Dec. 31.

FOR THE RECORD - An item in the Business daily briefing on Thursday incorrectly noted the number of weeks Maryland residents can collect unemployment benefits. The maximum is 73 weeks, including federal extensions. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

- Associated Press

State's jobless get more unemployment funds

The state said Wednesday that it is mailing letters to unemployed residents eligible for more weeks of unemployment-benefit checks. The 14-week extension went into effect the week of Nov. 8, but the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation needed time to reprogram its computers so residents can claim the additional checks. The agency said eligible Marylanders can get the missed weeks' checks retroactively. The extension took effect immediately after Congress made federal money available, increasing to 47 the number of weeks unemployed Maryland residents can collect.

- Jamie Smith Hopkins

Sources: Comcast to pay $13.75 billion in NBC deal

PHILADELPHIA - Comcast Corp. is expected to pay $13.75 billion in cash and assets to gain control of NBC Universal from General Electric Co., according to the Associated Press. The deal, which was set to be announced this morning, calls for the nation's biggest cable TV provider to spend $6.5 billion in cash and contribute cable channels worth $7.25 billion for a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal, according to people familiar with the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement has not been made public.

- Associated Press

Tribune Co. chooses Michaels as new CEO

Randy Michaels was named chief executive of Tribune Co. on Wednesday, succeeding Sam Zell, who remains chairman of the Chicago-based media concern that has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for nearly a year. Michaels, 57, joined Tribune Co.'s executive ranks when Zell took the company private in a debt-heavy December 2007 transaction, becoming its chief operating officer half a year later. With the elevation to CEO, Michaels also will join the Tribune Co. board. The company owns newspapers including The Baltimore Sun, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

- Chicago Tribune

Baltimore man pleads guilty to tax fraud

Baltimore resident Michael Parker, formerly the chief operating officer of a Virginia firm specializing in tax breaks, pleaded guilty this week to defrauding the Internal Revenue Service of millions of dollars by fashioning phony tax shelters, the Justice Department said. During a hearing Tuesday in a U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, he admitted that he conspired with an accountant and attorney to pull off the scam, the agency said. As an officer with TransCapital Corp., Parker told prosecutors, he helped put together and market a tax shelter from 1998 through 2006.

- Jamie Smith Hopkins

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