Archive for February 2014

W.Va. college savings plan tops $2 billion

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The states college savings plan hit a milestone recently when it surpassed $2 billion in financial assets.

Reaching $2 billion in investments is a significant achievement for the SMART529 program, state Treasurer John Perdue said Friday. It is evidence that more and more West Virginians are investing in the future of their children and preparing for life after high school.

Saving for college has never been more important, with tuition costs rising and student debt climbing, said Perdue, chairman of the SMART529s governing board.

Perdue helped create the SMART529 program 11 years ago. Today, the program has more than 120,000 account owners.

Based on todays rates, the average cost of college is more than $18,000 a year, he said. Even if your child receives a Promise scholarship, it may not be enough to cover all the expenses associated with costs of higher education.

Parents need to act now, to make sure their child isnt left behind, Perdue said.

Benefits from the SMART529 program equal the costs of tuition and fees paid for by Promise scholarships in West Virginia.

Last week, CNBC, on its website, ranked West Virginias SMART529 program as one of the nations 10 best college savings plans.

Students can use SMART529 accounts to pay for higher education expenses at most colleges, universities, vocational, technical and trade schools around the nation.

Account owners also receive tax deductions based on their contributions to the program, which is administered by Hartford Life.

Hitting $2 billion is a milestone, Perdue said. We never dreamed wed ever have a program like that. It will continue to get bigger and bigger. It is one of the best in the country.

We have had 27,000 West Virginians in our program. Over 10,000 of them have already received benefits going to colleges and universities, he said.

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When Borrowing Isn’t Saving: The Complications of Credit Card Debt for the Poor

There is nobody like a mom in the low-wage service sector to demonstrate the day-to-day meaning of financial responsibility. But for the large number of households facing stagnant incomes, erratic schedules, and a rising cost of living, making a monthly budget doesn’t guarantee meeting it. When paychecks and savings don’t cover the bills, low- and middle-income households with credit cards often turn to plastic just to get by. Credit cards thus provide a critical service for American families as they are increasingly underserved by labor standards and social supports.

Here at Demos, we’ve documented the cost of that plastic safety net when credit takes the place of adequate incomes, affordable medical care, and opportunities to build assets for households, the unemployed, older Americans, African Americans, and students and their families.

And that’s why the conflation of borrowing and saving in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine misses the mark. In that article, How Credit Card Debt Can Help the Poor, Shaila Dewan highlights Twin Accounts–a savings and credit-building vehicle offered by community development organizations and banks that match deposits made into a savings account and simultaneously establish credit history. Twin Accounts address some of the more damaging financial problems that accompany income instability–high costs and exclusion from even non-financial opportunities.

As Dewan correctly notes:

Life without credit is not only expensive; it’s also potentially ruinous. The most desirable apartments are off-limits, because their landlords run credit checks. Without credit, you have to make large deposits to turn on your electricity or gas or to put your phone bill in someone else’s name. If you want to buy a car, and you have good credit, a $10,000 loan might cost you $1,300 in interest. With bad credit, you’ll pay $7,600. If that car breaks down, a $500 expense might mean a crushing payday loan, or even a lost job.

She then makes the case that the extension of credit history into access to basic services, employment, and low cost financial products, means that responsible borrowing and a good credit history are just like assets for America’s poor.

Dewan characterizes a Twin Accounts lender with the following epiphany: “Saving and responsible borrowing, Lowitz realized, amount to the same thing: putting aside small sums to reach a goal.” Given the preceding account of the mission creep of the credit reporting industry, the suggested goal of responsible borrowing is access to the same basic opportunities as every other consumer in the market.

But saving and borrowing are not the same thing, though Twin Accounts, with an explicit goal of credit-building for the financially underserved, offers an opportunity for both. The generalization of this statement to credit cards (attempted only tenuously in the article) requires attention to a few important facts.

First is that 40 percent of low- and middle-income households who carry credit card debt do so because they do not make enough money in their paychecks to meet their basic needs. The actual credit card usage of these households reflects basic income insecurity and the growing schism between an expanding economy and the typical American household. Access to credit cards, then, is important because America’s economic growth isn’t benefiting Americans broadly–but credit cards are just a superficial and short-term means of dealing with that problem, rather than a real opportunity for families to get their finances on track.

Secondly, the use of credit history to determine more and more aspects of our economic lives is an inappropriate application of a tool that is demonstrably inaccurate, unfair and unsuitable for many of the uses to which it is applied. Rather than indicating trustworthiness or responsibility, credit reports often simply reproduce the racial and economic inequalities that already exist in other markets. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 1 in 5 Americans has a material error on a credit report. African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately likely to have lower scores, an outcome that is associated with historical exclusion from wealth accumulation and labor market opportunities. Twin Accounts provide a means to surmount the barriers established by the mission creep of the credit reporting industry. These are barriers that in many instances (employment decisions, for example) should be eliminated altogether.

Finally, families should not have to rely on credit cards to supplement poverty-level wages and a lack of social support. But since they do, it is especially important to ensure that credit markets are fair and transparent. The 2008 CARD Act showed that consumer protections from onerous practices can benefit households without subverting the credit industry. This success can be extended to ensure fair, non-predatory practices in credit card lending and to establish appropriate financial services guidelines in other markets for debt.

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Lazard Ltd Reports Full-Year and Fourth-Quarter 2013 Results

Note: Endnotes are on page 13 of this release. A reconciliation of
adjusted GAAP to US GAAP is on page 21.

Lazard Ltd (NYSE:LAZ) today reported operating revenue1 of
$2,034 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. Net income, as
adjusted1, was $269 million, or $2.01 per share (diluted) for
the full year. These results exclude pre-tax charges of $54 million in
the 2013 fourth quarter relating to a debt refinancing and $64 million
in the first half of 2013 relating to cost saving initiatives2,4.

Fourth-quarter 2013 operating revenue1 was $620 million. Net
income, as adjusted1, was $110 million, or $0.81 per share
(diluted), excluding the pre-tax charge relating to the fourth-quarter
debt refinancing2,4.

Full-year 2013 net income on a US GAAP basis was $160 million, or
$1.21 per share (diluted). Fourth-quarter 2013 net income on a US GAAP
basis was $53 million, or $0.40 per share (diluted). A reconciliation of
our US GAAP results to the adjusted results is presented on page 21 of
this press release.

“Lazard achieved record annual operating revenue in 2013, driven by a
strong second half in Financial Advisory and a record year in Asset
Management,” said Kenneth M. Jacobs, Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer of Lazard. “Our earnings growth reflects the increased operating
leverage we have built into the business.”

“In Financial Advisory, we are poised to benefit from an upturn in the
Mamp;A market,” said Mr. Jacobs. “In Asset Management, our continued strong
pattern of performance and record level of assets under management
position us well for further organic growth.”

“Lazard continues to generate substantial cash flow,” said Matthieu
Bucaille, Chief Financial Officer of Lazard. “Consistent with our
capital management objectives, we are increasing our quarterly dividend
by 20%.”

“We are successfully executing our strategy for profitable growth while
continuing to invest in our business,” said Mr. Bucaille. “We have
achieved our operating margin goal for 2013, creating a path toward
achieving our 2014 financial targets5.”

OPERATING REVENUE

Financial Advisory

In the text portion of this press release, we present our Financial
Advisory results as Strategic Advisory and Restructuring. Strategic
Advisory includes 1) Mamp;A and Other Advisory (Other includes Capital
Structure Advisory and Sovereign Advisory) and 2) Capital Raising
(includes Capital Markets Advisory and Private Fund Advisory).

Full Year

Financial Advisory operating revenue was $981 million for 2013, 7% lower
than 2012, primarily due to lower Restructuring revenue.

Strategic Advisory operating revenue was $848 million for 2013, 2% lower
than 2012, with the 2013 second half up 26% over the first half, driven
by a 27% increase in Mamp;A and Other Advisory revenue in the second half
of 2013.

During 2013, Lazard remained engaged in highly visible, complex Mamp;A
transactions and other advisory assignments, including cross-border
transactions, spin-offs, distressed asset sales, capital advisory and
sovereign advisory in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia.

Lazard advised on a number of the largest global Mamp;A transactions
announced in 2013, including the following: Berkshire Hathaway and 3G
Capital’s $28 billion acquisition of HJ Heinz; Microsoft in its
role in Dell’s $24.9 billion going-private transaction; Amgen’s $10.4
billion acquisition of Onyx Pharmaceuticals; NV Energy’s $10 billion
sale to MidAmerican Energy; and D.E Master Blenders 1753 in its
€7.8 billion sale to an investor group led by Joh. A. Benckiser.

Our Sovereign Advisory business remained active in worldwide
assignments, including: acting as financial agent to the US
Department of the Treasury with respect to General Motors and Ally
Financial; advising on certain privatizations in Greece; advising the Hellenic
Financial Stability Fund on the disposal of its participation in the
Greek systemic banks; and advising BTA Bank on its divestiture by
Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna.

In Capital Advisory, we continued to provide advice regarding balance
sheet issues to public, private and sovereign clients globally,
including: UK Financial Investments on its £3.2 billion disposal
of part of Her Majesty’s Treasury’s shareholding in Lloyds Banking
Group; Siemens’ €2.5 billion spin-off of Osram; ENI Group
on its €1.5 billion sale of shares in Snam and its €678 million sale of
shares in Galp Energia; the New Zealand Government on the NZ$1.9
billion IPO of Meridian Energy and the NZ$1.6 billion IPO of Mighty
River Power; Ingersoll-Rand on its $1.6 billion senior notes
offering; Bertelsmann on the €1.3 billion public offering of
shares of RTL Group; Merlin Entertainments on its £1.1 billion
IPO; and Moncler on its €784 million IPO.

Restructuring operating revenue was $133 million for 2013, 27% lower
than in 2012, primarily reflecting the low levels of corporate defaults.
Lazard remains the leading firm in global announced and completed
restructurings. (Source: Thomson Reuters)

During 2013 we were involved in many of the most notable restructuring
and debt advisory assignments, including: Allied Pilots Association with
respect to American Airlines; Cengage Learning; the Official
Committee of Retirees with respect to the City of Detroit; Eastman
Kodak; Exide Technologies; OGX Petróleo e Gás
Participações; and Sorgenia.

Please see a more complete list of Strategic Advisory transactions on
which Lazard advised in the fourth quarter, or continued to advise or
completed since December 31, 2013, as well as Capital Advisory,
Sovereign Advisory and Restructuring assignments, on pages 9 – 12 of
this release.

Fourth Quarter

Financial Advisory operating revenue was $315 million for the fourth
quarter of 2013, 2% higher than the strong fourth quarter of 2012,
primarily driven by an 8% increase in Mamp;A and Other Advisory, partially
offset by a 28% decrease in Restructuring operating revenue.

Strategic Advisory operating revenue was $281 million for the fourth
quarter of 2013, 7% higher than the fourth quarter of 2012.

Restructuring operating revenue was $34 million for the fourth quarter
of 2013, compared to $48 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Asset Management

Full Year

Asset Management operating revenue was a record $1,024 million for 2013,
16% higher than 2012.

Management fees were a record $904 million for 2013, 12% higher than
2012, primarily reflecting an increase in assets under management (AUM).
Incentive fees were $78 million for 2013, compared to $44 million for
2012, reflecting strong performance in both our traditional and
alternative investment strategies.

AUM was a record $187 billion as of December 31, 2013, up 12% from
December 31, 2012, primarily reflecting market appreciation,
particularly in global and international equities. Average AUM of $174
billion in 2013 was 12% higher than average AUM in 2012.

Net outflows were $1.9 billion, primarily driven by outflows in one
strategy in our global equity platform and in our local equity platform.

In 2013, Lazard Asset Management opened an office in Singapore,
increasing our distribution and investment capabilities.

Fourth Quarter

Asset Management operating revenue was a quarterly record of $293
million for the fourth quarter of 2013, 20% higher than the fourth
quarter of 2012.

Management fees were $238 million for the fourth quarter of 2013, 14%
higher than the fourth quarter of 2012, and 4% higher than the third
quarter of 2013, primarily reflecting an increase in AUM. Incentive fees
were $44 million in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared to $27 million
in the fourth quarter of 2012, primarily reflecting strong performance
in both our traditional and alternative investment strategies.

Average AUM for the fourth quarter of 2013 was $184 billion, 12% higher
than average AUM for the fourth quarter of 2012 and 7% higher than the
third quarter of 2013. AUM as of December 31, 2013, was up 6% from
September 30, 2013.

Net inflows were $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, primarily
reflecting client investment in our international and European equity
strategies as well as in our emerging markets fixed-income strategies.

OPERATING EXPENSES

Compensation and Benefits

In managing compensation and benefits expense, we focus on annual
awarded compensation (cash compensation and benefits plus deferred
incentive compensation with respect to the applicable year, net of
estimated future forfeitures and excluding charges). We believe annual
awarded compensation reflects the actual annual compensation cost more
accurately than the GAAP measure of compensation cost, which includes
applicable-year cash compensation and the amortization of deferred
incentive compensation principally attributable to previous years’
deferred compensation. We believe that by managing our business using
awarded compensation with a consistent deferral policy, we can better
manage our compensation costs, increase our flexibility in the future
and build shareholder value over time.

Adjusted GAAP compensation and benefits expense1 for 2013 was
$1,197 million, excluding related 2013 charges2, compared to
$1,218 million for 2012, excluding related 2012 charges2. The
corresponding adjusted GAAP compensation ratio1 was 58.8% for
2013, down from 61.8% for 2012.

Awarded compensation expense1 was $1,187 million for 2013,
compared to $1,172 million for 2012. The corresponding awarded
compensation ratio1 was 58.3% for 2013, down from 59.4% for
2012.

Our goal remains to grow annual awarded compensation expense at a slower
rate than operating revenue growth, and to achieve a
compensation-to-revenue ratio over the cycle in the mid- to high-50s
percentage range on both an awarded and adjusted GAAP basis1,
with consistent deferral policies.

Non-Compensation Expense

Adjusted non-compensation expense1 was $409 million for 2013,
excluding related 2013 charges2, 3% lower than 2012,
excluding related 2012 charges2. The decrease was driven
primarily by the results of our cost saving initiatives. The ratio of
non-compensation expense to operating revenue1 was 20.1% for
2013, compared to 21.4% for 2012.

Adjusted non-compensation expense1 for the fourth quarter of
2013, excluding related 2013 charges2, was $109 million, 5%
lower than the fourth quarter of 2012, excluding related 2012 charges2.
The ratio of non-compensation expense to operating revenue1
was 17.5% for the fourth quarter of 2013, compared to 20.0% for the
fourth quarter of 2012.

Our goal remains to achieve a non-compensation expense-to-revenue ratio
over the cycle of 16% to 20%.

TAXES

The provision for taxes, on an adjusted basis1, was $77
million for full-year 2013 and $32 million for the fourth quarter of
2013. The effective tax rate on the same basis was 22.2% for full-year
2013, compared to 21.3% for full-year 2012.

CAPITAL MANAGEMENT AND BALANCE SHEET

Our primary capital management goals include managing debt, and
returning capital to shareholders through dividends and share
repurchases.

In 2013, Lazard returned $416 million to shareholders, which included:
$123 million in dividends, $161 million in share repurchases of our
Class A common stock; and $132 million in satisfaction of employee tax
obligations in lieu of share issuances upon vesting of equity grants.
The $123 million in dividends included $30 million in a special dividend
of $0.25 per share on outstanding Class A common stock, declared and
paid in the fourth quarter of 2013.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, we repurchased 1.3 million shares of our
Class A common stock for $55 million, at an average price of $42.40 per
share. This brought total share repurchases in 2013 to $161 million, at
an average price of $36.23 per share. These share repurchases more than
offset the potential dilution from our 2012 year-end equity-based
compensation awards. As of December 31, 2013, our remaining share
repurchase authorization was $122 million.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, we refinanced a portion of Lazard Group
LLC’s outstanding debt in order to reduce both our total annual interest
expense and our total debt level. As a result of the refinancing, we
expect interest expense savings of approximately $16 million in 20144.

On January 29, 2014, our Board of Directors voted to increase the
quarterly dividend on Lazard’s outstanding Class A common stock by 20%,
to $0.30 per share. The dividend is payable on February 21, 2014, to
stockholders of record on February 10, 2014.

Lazard’s financial position remains strong. Our cash and cash
equivalents were $841 million, and stockholders’ equity related to
Lazard’s interests was $560 million, as of December 31, 2013.

COST SAVING INITIATIVES

In October 2012, Lazard announced cost saving initiatives2,
which are expected to result in total annual savings of approximately
$160 million, partially offset by investment in our business.

Approximately $120 million of the expected total savings relate to
compensation expense associated with the firm’s headcount, and
approximately $40 million to non-compensation expense.

Expenses associated with implementation of the cost saving initiatives
were completed at the end of the 2013 second quarter and were reflected
in our first-half 2013 financial results.

The cost saving initiatives are intended to improve the firm’s
profitability with minimal impact on revenue growth. The initiatives
include: streamlining our corporate structure and consolidating support
functions; realigning the firm’s investments into areas with potential
for the greatest long-term return; renegotiating certain contracts; and
creating greater flexibility to retain and attract the best people and
invest in new growth areas.

OPERATING MARGIN

In April 2012, we communicated our goal of achieving a 2014 operating
margin of 25%, assuming a similar level of activity in both our
businesses as in 2012. We established this goal by targeting an awarded
compensation ratio in the mid- to high-50s percentage range, and a
non-compensation ratio of between 16% and 20%.

Lazard continues to make progress toward these financial targets. In
2013, our adjusted GAAP operating margin5 was approximately
21%, up from 17% for both 2012 and 2011. The 2013 awarded operating
margin5 was approximately 22%, up from 19% for 2012 and 17%
for 2011.

Factors that could cause us to fall short of our operating margin
goal include, but are not limited to, those described on page eight of
this release.

CONFERENCE CALL

Lazard will host a conference call at 8:00 am EST on Wednesday,
February 5, 2014, to discuss the company’s financial results for the
full year and fourth quarter of 2013. The conference call can be
accessed via a live audio webcast available through Lazard’s Investor
Relations website at www.lazard.com,
or by dialing 1 (888) 262-8943 (US and Canada) or +1 (913) 312-1303
(outside of the US and Canada), 15 minutes prior to the start of the
call.

A replay of the conference call will be available by 10:00 am EST on
Wednesday, February 5, 2014, via the Lazard Investor Relations website,
or by dialing 1 (888) 203-1112 (US and Canada) or +1 (719) 457-0820
(outside of the US and Canada). The replay access code is 8889237.

ABOUT LAZARD

Lazard, one of the worlds preeminent financial advisory and asset
management firms, operates from 40 cities across 26 countries in North
America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Central and South America. With
origins dating to 1848, the firm provides advice on mergers and
acquisitions, strategic matters, restructuring and capital structure,
capital raising and corporate finance, as well as asset management
services to corporations, partnerships, institutions, governments and
individuals. For more information on Lazard, please visit www.lazard.com.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements:

This press release contains “forward-looking statements.” In some
cases, you can identify these statements by forward-looking words such
as “may”, “might”, “will”, “should”, “expect”, “plan”, “anticipate”,
“believe”, “estimate”, “predict”, “potential”, “target,” “goal”, or
“continue”, and the negative of these terms and other comparable
terminology. These forward-looking statements are not historical facts
but instead represent only our belief regarding future results or
events, many of which, by their nature, are inherently uncertain and
outside of our control. Although we believe the expectations reflected
in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee
future results, level of activity, performance or achievements. There
are important factors that could cause our actual results, level of
activity, performance or achievements to differ materially from the
results, level of activity, performance or achievements expressed or
implied by these forward-looking statements.

These factors include, but are not limited to, those discussed in our
Annual Report on Form 10-K under Item 1A “Risk Factors,” and also
disclosed from time to time in our reports on Forms 10-Q and 8-K,
including the following:

  • A decline in general economic conditions or the global financial
    markets;
  • A decline in our revenues, for example due to a decline in overall
    mergers and acquisitions (Mamp;A) activity, our share of the Mamp;A market
    or our assets under management (AUM);
  • Losses caused by financial or other problems experienced by third
    parties;
  • Losses due to unidentified or unanticipated risks;
  • A lack of liquidity, ie, ready access to funds, for use in our
    businesses; and
  • Competitive pressure on our businesses and on our ability to retain
    and attract employees at current compensation levels.

Neither we nor any other person assumes responsibility for the
accuracy or completeness of any of these forward-looking statements. You
should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future
events. We are under no duty to update any of these forward-looking
statements after the date of this release to conform our prior
statements to actual results or revised expectations and we do not
intend to do so.

Lazard Ltd is committed to providing timely and accurate information
to the investing public, consistent with our legal and regulatory
obligations. To that end, Lazard and its operating companies use their
websites to convey information about their businesses, including the
anticipated release of quarterly financial results, quarterly financial,
statistical and business-related information, and the posting of updates
of assets under management in various hedge funds and mutual funds and
other investment products managed by Lazard Asset Management LLC and its
subsidiaries. Investors can link to Lazard and its operating company
websites through www.lazard.com.

LlSTS OF FINANCIAL ADVISORY ASSIGNMENTS

Mergers and Acquisitions (Completed in the fourth
quarter of 2013)

Among the large, publicly announced Mamp;A Advisory transactions or
assignments completed during the fourth quarter of 2013 on which Lazard
advised were the following:

  • Microsoft in its role in Dell’s $24.9 billion going-private
    transaction
  • IntercontinentalExchange’s $11.0 billion acquisition of NYSE
    Euronext
  • Amgen’s $10.4 billion acquisition of Onyx Pharmaceuticals
  • NV Energy’s $10 billion sale to MidAmerican Energy
  • Independent Committee of Independent Non-Executive Directors of
    Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation in relation to the offer
    for the remaining 44.59% of ENRC not already owned by Eurasian
    Resources Group, valuing ENRC at approximately £3 billion
  • Tenet Healthcare’s $4.3 billion acquisition of Vanguard Health
    Systems
  • MacDermid’s $1.8 billion sale to Platform Acquisition Holdings
  • Athene Holding in its $1.6 billion acquisition of Aviva’s US
    annuity and life insurance operations, and its simultaneous sale of
    the newly acquired Aviva’s US life insurance operations to Global
    Atlantic through a reinsurance agreement
  • The Special Committee of Dole Food in Dole’s $1.6 billion
    going-private transaction
  • EQT in the exchange of its natural gas distribution business
    with SteelRiver Infrastructure Partners for $740 million and the
    receipt of assets and other consideration
  • Banco Popular Español’s €815 million sale of a 51% stake in its
    property business to Värde and Kennedy Wilson
  • FSI’s €657 million acquisition of an 84.6% stake in Ansaldo
    Energia from First Reserve and Finmeccanica
  • Marco Tronchetti Provera in Lauro Sessantuno’s €610
    million acquisition of a 60.99% stake in Camfin
  • Veolia Environnement’s €590 million sale of its 24.95% stake in
    Berlinwasser Holding to the City State of Berlin
  • Homesite Group’s $660 million sale to American Family Insurance
  • Rockwood’s $635 million sale of its Clay Based Additives
    business to ALTANA
  • Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s €321 million acquisition
    of a 15% stake in ORPEA and underwriting of a €100 million capital
    increase
  • Bridgepoint’s $600 million sale of Permaswage to Precision
    Castparts
  • Derichebourg’s €450 million sale of Servisair to Swissport
  • Avista Capital Partners’ and Nordic Capital’s CHF 544
    million joint public tender offer to acquire Acino
  • Dynegy’s $599 million acquisition of Ameren Energy Resources
  • Oceana Offshore’s acquisition of Companhia Brasileira de
    Offshore
  • Royal Bank of Scotland’s sale of European rolling stock assets
    to Alpha Trains
  • First Investment Bank’s acquisition of MKB Unionbank
  • Air Liquide’s sale of its stake in Laboratoires Anios to the
    Letartre Family and Ardian
  • Internazionale Holding’s sale of a 70% stake in FC
    Internazionale Milano to International Sports Capital
  • ING’s sale of stakes in SulAmÃrica to the Larragoiti Family and
    Swiss Re

Mergers and Acquisitions (Announced)

Among the ongoing, large, publicly announced Mamp;A transactions and
assignments on which Lazard advised in the 2013 fourth quarter, or
continued to advise or completed since December 31, 2013, are the
following:

  • Health Management Associates’ $7.6 billion sale to Community
    Health Systems*
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev’s $5.8 billion acquisition of Oriental
    Brewery
  • Vivendi’s €4.2 billion sale of its 53% interest in Maroc Telecom
  • UNS Energy’s $4.3 billion sale to Fortis
  • Shire’s $4.2 billion acquisition of ViroPharma*
  • Leap Wireless’ $4.1 billion sale to ATamp;T
  • Fiat’s $3.7 billion acquisition of the remaining 41.5% of
    Chrysler from the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust*
  • Carrefour’s creation of a company valued at €2.7 billion
    through the contribution of 45 of its shopping malls and the
    acquisition of 127 malls from KlÃpierre
  • Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs
  • Google’s $2.9 billion sale of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo
  • Independent Directors of KKR in KKR’s $2.6 billion acquisition
    of KKR Financial Holdings
  • Independent Directors of Frontier Communications in Frontier’s
    $2.0 billion acquisition of ATamp;T’s wireline business in Connecticut
  • Edwards’ $1.6 billion sale to Atlas Copco*
  • Shapell Industries’ $1.6 billion sale of its home building
    business to Toll Brothers
  • ArcelorMittal’s and Nippon Steel amp; Sumitomo Metal’s $1.6
    billion acquisition of ThyssenKrupp Steel USA through a 50/50 joint
    venture
  • Altice’s €1.1 billion acquisition of Orange Dominicana
  • Rockwood’s $1.3 billion sale of its Titanium Dioxide Pigments
    and other non-strategic businesses to Huntsman
  • Rockwood’s acquisition of a 49% interest in Talison Lithium
    through a joint venture with Chengdu Tianqi, valuing Talison at $1.1
    billion
  • Telefónica’s €783 million acquisition of a 23.8% stake
    in Telco SpA.
  • Saudi Telecom’s sale of its 83.8% stake in PT AXIS Telekom
    Indonesia (“AXIS”), valuing AXIS at $865 million
  • Kraton Performance Polymers’ $705 million combination with the
    styrenic block copolymer business of LCY Chemical
  • BarrierSafe Solutions’ $615 million sale to Ansell Limited*
  • Solstas Lab Partners Groups $570 million sale to Quest
    Diagnostics
  • Domtar’s €400 million acquisition of Indas*
  • Cia Providências R$1.1 billion sale of a 71.2% stake to
    Polymer Group
  • Vivendi’s demerger of SFR
  • Oil States International’s proposed spin-off of its
    Accommodations business
  • Singapore Power’s sale of a 60% interest in SPI (Australia)
    Assets and a 19.9% interest in SP AusNet to State Grid Corporation of
    China*
  • Silver Lake and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment’s acquisition
    of IMG Worldwide
  • KKR’s acquisition of SBB/Telemach Group
  • Forethought Financial Group’s sale to Global Atlantic Financial
    Group*
  • The Hershey Companys acquisition of an 80% stake in Shanghai
    Golden Monkey
  • Altice’s acquisition of Tricom

* Transaction completed since December 31, 2013

Capital Advisory

Among the publicly announced Capital Advisory transactions or
assignments on which Lazard completed or advised during or since the
fourth quarter of 2013 were the following:

  • US Department of the Treasury in connection with Ally
    Financial’s agreement to repurchase all of the Mandatorily Convertible
    Preferred securities and the termination of the existing share
    adjustment right held by Treasury for a combined $5.9 billion as well
    as Treasurys sale of $3.0 billion of Ally Financial common stock in a
    private offering
  • Her Majesty’s Government on the £2.0 billion initial public
    offering of Royal Mail
  • The New Zealand Government on the NZ$1.9 billion initial
    public offering of Meridian Energy
  • Merlin Entertainments on its £1.1 billion initial public
    offering
  • Moncler on its €784 million initial public offering
  • Micron Technology on its $1.0 billion convertible debt exchange
  • SociÃtà d’Investissement Deconinck on the €531 million initial
    public offering of Tarkett
  • TNT Express on the sale of €507 million of its stock held by
    PostNL
  • HealthSouth on its $320 million convertible debt exchange
  • The New Zealand Government on the NZ$365 million sale of
    a 20% stake in Air New Zealand

Sovereign Advisory

Among the publicly announced Sovereign Advisory assignments on which
Lazard completed or advised during or since the fourth quarter of 2013
were the following:

  • US Department of the Treasury with respect to General Motors
    and Ally Financial
  • Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) on
    the disposal of its participation in the Greek systemic banks
  • The Islamic Republic of Mauritania on various strategic
    sovereign financial issues
  • BTA Bank on its divestiture by Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth
    fund Samruk-Kazyna
  • The Gabonese Republic on its sovereign credit rating and $1.5
    billion bond offering
  • The Republic of Congo on securing its initial sovereign credit
    ratings
  • The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on securing its
    initial sovereign credit rating

Restructuring and Debt Advisory Assignments

Restructuring and debtor or creditor advisory assignments completed
during the fourth quarter of 2013 on which Lazard advised include: Allied
Pilots Association with respect to American Airlines; lenders of
Mednav SpA. on its recapitalization and debt restructuring; Munshaat
on its debt restructuring; Peabody Energy in connection with the
bankruptcy of Patriot Coal; and Rural/Metro and Maxcom
Telecomunicaciones in connection with their Chapter 11 financial
restructurings.

Notable Chapter 11 or similar bankruptcies, on which Lazard advised
debtors or creditors, or related parties, during or since the fourth
quarter of 2013, are the following:

  • Industrials/Automotive: Exide Technologies
  • Government: Official Committee of Retirees of the City of
    Detroit
  • Healthcare: Savient Pharmaceuticals*
  • Power amp; Energy: Edison Mission Energy; Longview Power;
    OGX Petróleo e Gás Participações
  • Technology/Media/Telecom: Cengage Learning; LightSquared

Among other publicly announced restructuring and debt advisory
assignments on which Lazard has advised debtors or creditors during or
since the fourth quarter of 2013, are the following:

  • ATU – strategic options in relation to its debt restructuring*
  • Capita Asset Services – financial advisor to the Master
    Servicer for Theatre (Hospitals) No.1 and Theatre (Hospitals) No.2
  • Cinven – in connection with the reorganization of its
    shareholding in Frans Bonhomme and the company’s debt reduction*
  • CityLife – on its debt restructuring
  • Dubai Group – on its debt restructuring
  • Mercator – on its debt restructuring
  • National Association of Letter Carriers – in connection with
    the USPS’s restructuring efforts
  • Pescanova – on its debt restructuring
  • PMI – advisor to the receiver of PMI on certain asset
    dispositions*
  • Premuda – on its debt restructuring
  • Saudi Cable Company – on its debt restructuring
  • Sinergia/Imco – advisor to creditors in connection with the
    company’s in-court restructuring
  • Sorgenia – on its debt restructuring
  • USEC – on its balance sheet restructuring

* Transaction completed since December 31, 2013

ENDNOTES

1 A non-US GAAP measure. See attached financial schedules
and related notes for a detailed explanation of adjustments to
corresponding US GAAP results. We believe that presenting our results
on an adjusted basis, in addition to the US GAAP results, is the most
meaningful and useful way to compare our operating results across
periods.

2 Results for the full year and fourth quarter of 2013
exclude charges relating to previously announced cost saving initiatives
and the refinancing of debt4. These charges include: a
fourth-quarter pre-tax charge of $54 million relating to the debt
refinancing; a second-quarter pre-tax charge of $38 million, of which
$27 million was compensation expense and $11 million was
non-compensation expense; and a first-quarter pre-tax charge of $26
million, of which $24 million was compensation expense and $2 million
was non-compensation expense. Results for 2012 exclude: a fourth-quarter
pre-tax charge of $103 million, of which $100 million was compensation
expense and $3 million was non-compensation expense; and a first-quarter
pre-tax charge of $25 million, of which $22 million was compensation
expense and $3 million was non-compensation expense.

3 In 2013, Lazard returned $416 million to shareholders,
which included: $123 million in dividends; $161 million in share
repurchases of our Class A common stock; and $132 million in
satisfaction of employee tax obligations in lieu of share issuances upon
vesting of equity grants. The share repurchases more than offset the
potential dilution from our 2012 year-end equity-based compensation
awards.

4 During the fourth quarter of 2013, Lazard Ltd’s subsidiary
Lazard Group LLC completed a refinancing of the outstanding $528.5
million of 7.125% senior notes maturing on May 15, 2015, (the “2015
Notes”) by issuing a tender and redemption notice for the 2015 Notes and
by issuing $500 million of 4.25% notes maturing on November 14, 2020.
Charges of $54 million related to the debt refinancing are comprised
primarily of an extinguishment loss of $50 million and other related
costs.

5 Adjusted GAAP operating margin is a non-US GAAP measure
and is defined as operating revenue minus adjusted GAAP compensation
expense minus adjusted GAAP non-compensation expense, divided by
operating revenue. Awarded operating margin is a non-US GAAP measure
and is defined as operating revenue minus awarded compensation expense
minus adjusted GAAP non-compensation expense, divided by operating
revenue.

LAZ-EPE

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How can I manage my money and set up a budget plan?

Frank says: For most people, there are four things which provide most of the information they need to manage their money better.

They are: an income statement, which outlines all the income you get in a given month, including salary, child benefit payments, pension; bank statements; credit and debit card statements; and receipts.

You will need a budgeting tool, such as a personal budget planner, to manage this information. The Central Banks free Standard Financial Statement is a good tool. It helps you track your monthly income, monthly loan repayments, household expenditure, including electricity and gas bills, transport costs, medical expenses and so on.

There is also a free budgeting tool on the Irish Financial Reviews website.

Receipts are one of those areas of personal budgeting that warrant attention. If you dont do so currently, get a receipt for everything you spend money on. Keep those receipts in a set place, and add them up once a month to find out exactly how much you are spending. Your bank and credit card statements will also provide a lot of this information but receipts offer far more granular detail, such as spending on cigarettes. It is important that you can trace what you spend money on.

Now you are ready to begin budgeting. In your budgeting tool, record all income that comes into your household in a given month – as well as all money that goes out.

Your final task is to add everything up, at which point you will see if you are in the red (spending more than you earn) or black (a smart budgeter). If you are in the red, you need to identify the expenses which are not priorities and which can afford to be cut out. Repeat this exercise every month and within three months, you should be an expert at personal budgeting.

Q My electricity bills have gone sky-high over the last few months and Im considering switching to a pre-pay meter as a way of controlling my run-away electricity bills. Would that be a good move?

Frank says: The concept of pre-paid electricity meters has been around for a long time. They have seen a resurgence because of tough economic conditions and rising electricity costs.

Modern pre-paid electricity meters work in a similar way to prepaid mobile phones – you buy credit and top up pre-installed meters in your home. When youve enough credit in your meter, the electricity keeps on flowing.

You might be tempted to sign up to a pre-paid electricity meter because by doing so, you will no longer get electricity bills through the door. However, even if you no longer get electricity bills, this does not mean you will cut back on your electricity costs or use electricity more efficiently.

Pre-paid electricity companies charge customers 37.5c per day to rent their meters. This is in addition to the cost of the electricity. Over the course of a full year, the cost of renting such meters works out at EUR137. For a family that uses EUR1,000 worth of electricity, the cost of renting the meter is 14 per cent of their electricity costs. To put it another way, that family would need to reduce their electricity use by 14 per cent just to cover the cost of renting the meter.

Having a Building Energy Rating (BER) assessment on a home could be a more effective way of using that money. A BER will show you if there are simple steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient. If you shop around, you could get a BER for EUR135 – almost exactly the cost of the pre-paid meter.

Frank Conway is co-author of Cents amp; Sensibility, A Financial Guide for Young Adults. He also founded the Irish Financial Review site www.irishfinancialreview.com

Irish Independent

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Loans For Bad Credit @ badcreditloansatoz.co.uk

Payday loan is a little, short-term loan that is intended to cover a borrowers costs until his or her next payday. The loans are furthermore sometimes referred to as money advances. There are a allotment of Payday loan businesses around, both offline and online. Find below some of the issues you need to consider before deciding to take out a payday loan.

The Pros

1. Payday loans are the fastest and most effortlessly accepted loans today. A payday loan is a way to get some cash rapidly just when you need it. They offer instant economic respite. For demonstration lets state you are faced with some economic responsibility and you have no money to use. It could be an unexpected vehicle fix bill that you need money to resolve rapidly. A payday loan could be the response because it is cash that you can apply for and can be consigned into your account inside 24 hours.

2. There are no credit tests, which means that even if you have awful borrowing, no borrowing or are bankrupt , you are likely to be adept to get a payday loan. The loan obligations are that, you display verification of a steady job and that you own a bank account.

3. The application method is easy and straight ahead different other financial institutions that can take days just to look at your application. If your payday loan submission is successful, the cash can be moved into your account instantly.

The Cons

1. Even though the cost of scrounging differs from one loaner to another, the cost of taking out a payday loan can be very costly. usually, Interest rates ascribed on fast money is extremely high. This is because, the loaners take a high risk by not undertaking credit tests. therefore, they reimburse these risks with high interest rate.

2. The timeline for paying back the loan is short. It could variety from 7 to 28 days..

3. If you are unable to pay back at your next pay day, you can improve or extend the loan. This method is called roll over. The risk is that, the extension to this timeline can make you end up giving a much larger amount than what you primarily owed to your loaner. There have been examples where people have been apprehended in a cycle of debt as a result of expanding the repayment time some times.

Payday loan Hints and Tips

If you do conclude to take a payday loan, here are some matters to keep in mind.

1. If you need a large allowance of cash then a payday loan may not be the response. This is because, you may not be able to pay back such an allowance in a short time.

2. There are many payday loans for bad credit companies, both online and offline. Shop round and choose the loaner with the best comparable interest rate.

3. Dont make it a custom of scrounging every month, double-check that it is just a one off for provisional crises.

Instant bad credit payday loans are fast, very simple to get, and, in most situations, funds will be accessible instantly. You should keep in brain that the loan will need to be repaid on time to bypass getting apprehended into liability.

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Protecting Assets During Divorce: A Guide for Baby Boomers

Protecting Assets During Divorce: A Guide for Baby Boomers

Article provided by Law Office of Benjamin T. Hodas, LLC
Visit us at http://www.hodaslaw.com

The divorce rate among couples over the age of 50 (termed a gray divorce) has nearly doubled in recent years, even though the divorce rate in the country has declined overall.

A different set of financial challenges

The gray divorce trend has been said to emanate from:
-The rise in life expectancy.
-The increasing financial independence of women.
-Changing cultural values which have made getting divorced more socially acceptable than in the past.

Divorce for older couples comes with a different set of challenges than would have been encountered if the divorce had occurred earlier in their marriage. For example, since it costs more to maintain a certain level of post-divorce lifestyle as a single person, this economic reality is even more difficult as the parties approach retirement age and thus potentially are subject to a fixed or maximized source of income. The inevitable result is that many older divorcees find they have to delay retirement for a few more years than they would have otherwise intended.

How to protect your financial well-being

In addition to their role in planning for retirement, Social Security benefits and pension plans should be considered when an older couple is seeking divorce. Accordingly, it is essential that baby boomers are diligent about protecting their assets and financial well-being during a divorce.

The amount of alimony, or spousal support, paid to an ex-spouse is determined by numerous factors, including not only the earning potential of the intended recipient and the parties lifestyle during the marriage, but also the needs of the parties going forward and their ability to pay heading into retirement. If you are on the receiving end of the support, it is essential to build a case which ensures payments made to you will protect the lifestyle and standard of living which you have enjoyed and been accustomed to during the intact marriage and to the extent possible within the financial realities of your case.

If you were not the breadwinner or majority income earner in your household during the marriage, it is important that you are able to establish credit post-divorce. When you are in the process of divorce but still married, it may be in your best interests to obtain a credit card in your name and pay bills using this account. This is especially important if you and your spouse have a joint account and your spouse is not maintaining the financial status quo or otherwise being fiscally responsible.

Working with an experienced, knowledgeable and qualified attorney throughout your divorce will protect your financial well-being and ensure stability in the future. If you are considering divorce, contact an attorney in your area to protect your rights.

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Bad Credit Loans UK @ www.badcreditpaydayloansyou.co.uk

A tricky emergency situation can happen any time in the middle of the month that is required to be came to instantly. What makes such hectic situations all the more poorer is the detail that one can not delay for the next payday to solve these matters. therefore, this is the time when the option of payday loans online can stand as a sigh of respite. These payday loans offer good monetary funds are efficient in management all mid month urgent obligations that crop up when you least anticipate them. furthermore, these loans are free from the toiling task of collateral proposal and borrowing check which further facilitates its very simple and fast processing means.

Let us now talk about some significant figurative details about payday loans online. Under this loan range, an applicant is allowed to place a demand of an allowance extending between pound;100 and pound;1500, where the repayment length is repaired for 14 to 30 days. These loans are open to all kinds of borrowers including the category of awful borrowing holders, who have faced sufficient loan submission rejections because of their reduced borrowing rating. In supplement to this, the loan allowance you obtain under this economic aid is free from the limits prepared by the loaner and thus, can be utilised for any kind of reason such as paying your childs higher education fees or managing the supplemented costs of your direct enterprise trip. although, to get payday loans online, it is absolutely vital for the borrower to be an adult and should also posses a decisive source of earnings.

In alignment to gain more information on payday loans online and loaners dealing in this option, you can effortlessly use the sources of loan directories and good investment consultancies as they are actively affiliated with reliable loaners of the investment market. You can furthermore take the assistance of internet, where some economic websites are available. These websites brandish each and every minutia about this loan and its services. Moreover, one time you get the register of loaners available in your district, you can conveniently ask for quotations on these loans by loading up a easy requisition form that is accessible on the website of your favoured loaners. This service is offered to the borrowers at free of cost. The quotations will let you have a clear idea about the market rates and you can bypass getting trapped in the cycle of non-profitable loan agreements.

It is very easy to request for bad credit loans online. You just have to load up up an online submission pattern with appropriate details about your individual and paid work rank. As shortly as your form gets submitted on the loaners location, the bosses from his business will get in touch with you to carry out the procedure of persona verification and documentation. Make certain that you read all clauses, periods and situation of the loan deal very mindfully before signing on the final deal documents. In detail, you can furthermore take the aid of an skilled financial advisor who can address the deal from your issue of view.

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NAACP Releases Report on Banking Industry; Finds ‘Room For Improvement’

“Equal opportunity for people of color in the United States remains an unrealized goal,” stated Interim NAACP President and CEO Lorraine Miller. “The banking industry will add nearly 1 million jobs with a living wage and wealth generating opportunities over the next decade and more people of color are graduating with degrees in accounting, finance, IT, MBAs than ever before. We look forward to working with leading banks in strengthening their diversity and inclusion efforts and connecting more members of our communities to these opportunities.”

The report card, which is based on 2011 data, reveals top management positions remain firmly dominated by white employees, despite the development of programs to increase diversity and inclusion and dramatic increases in the number of minority college graduates entering the workforce over the past 20 years. Information submitted by banks during the survey period indicates that they continue to struggle with diversification in their supplier purchasing. 1.6 percent of banks’ supplier budget is the most any bank spent on African American suppliers and 5.3 percent is the most any bank spent on firms owned by people of color.

“During this period of high unemployment and declining wealth, which is even more pronounced for African Americans and other people of color, Americans need living wage jobs with long-term career tracks,” stated Dedrick Asante Muhammad, NAACP Senior Director of Economic Department.

Information submitted by banks during the survey period also indicates many banks continue to create products which feature high cost credit or fee-based services. These high-cost products hurt the grades of several banks in this report.

“This thorough and accurate report could apply to many other industries as it illustrates the nation’s slowly evolving progress on race,” states Gary Bledsoe, NAACP Board Member and Chair of Housing Committee. “However, we are pleased to acknowledge that 4 of the 5 institutions have adopted the NAACP’s Fair Lending Principles and have committed to work with us to ensure further progress.”

The NAACP’s Report Card graded the five largest banks (Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and US Bank) on three main criteria: 1) workforce and job advancement, 2) contracting and procurement, and 3) small dollar products.

Bank of America and Citibank both received an overall C+ grade–the highest ratings out of all the banks.

The release of this report card comes months before a new federal rule requires banks to set metrics and percentages for diversifying their workforces and supplier pools. The federal rule will also advise banks on how to collect data detailing how much they spend on minority- and women-owned businesses.

“Both this report card and the federal rule are major steps in encouraging the banking industry to strengthen job creation and wealth building opportunities for minorities,” stated Leonard James, NAACP Board Member and Economic Development Chair. “The NAACP views the Opportunity amp; Diversity Report Card as a vehicle to provide baseline data in each industry surveyed and looks forwards to collaborating with these corporate leaders and diversity advocates over the next several years to advance industry diversity and inclusion, at all levels.”

The five banks surveyed and other leading banks will be invited to participate in an Opportunity amp; Diversity Summit in the next few months to discuss industry strategies for diversity and inclusion moving forward.

The Opportunity amp; Diversity Report Card: The Consumer Banking Industry is the second in a series of NAACP’s economic report cards on corporate diversity and inclusion. The focus of the Opportunity and Diversity Report Card is to examine and grade the largest companies on their representation of African Americans and people of color as a whole with respect to workforce, supplier diversity and wealth building. In addition to grading corporations on their diversity, the report cards highlight opportunities in the industry and the specific programs designed to strengthen people of color’s full participation in the industry.

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Call 12: Work-at-home deal puts widow in debt

Work-at-home scams often appear obvious. Right up there with the Nigerian letter. People often say, Who would fall for that?

The victims are surprisingly ordinary. Many are retired or jobless, looking for an opportunity and willing to take a chance.

Want to see the face of a victim? Dianne Cavaness is a 66-year-old widow who sunk $27,000 into an Arizona company that authorities say preyed on people around country with promises of instant income from a Web-based business.

Cavaness, a former home-health nurse who retired from the Fremont County Department of Family Services in Wyoming, still was grieving over the death of her husband when she answered a call from E-Biz-Services, LLC.

The representative named Mike was friendly and cordial, she said. He talked about running a business from her living room. She thought it might be a way to take her mind off her husbands death. All she needed was a computer and a small amount of startup capital.

Cavaness said she wasnt hooked on the first call, more like intrigued. She looked up the company on the Internet, asked for a prospectus describing the operation, requested some time to think. The company sent her a brochure and followed up with calls. No pressure, just making sure she didnt have questions.

The business model sounded reasonable. She would be part of a credit-card-processing company. E-Biz had relations with merchants and she said she would receive a commission each time somebody slid their card through a designated processing machine. The company established a Web page where she would be able to track her income and the number of people using her processing device.

Her page was called Riverton Merchant Services.

After losing my husband, I wanted to start an online business, make some money working from home, Cavaness said. I had a website, they called it my back office.

She said E-biz representatives asked her to establish credit cards of her own where they could bill business expenses. She said she authorized charges that were not supposed to exceed a few hundred dollars.

Cavaness said her first inkling of trouble came when her weekly commission checks never arrived. She said the representatives who at first were so helpful wouldnt give her an answer. Then she discovered three of her credit cards had been charged to their limit of $27,000.

Its my own stupid fault, she said in an interview last week. I should have an S stamped on my forehead.

What Cavaness did not know is that E-Biz was just one of a number of companies operated out of a Phoenix mailbox drop near Central Avenue and Camelback Road.

Records show its operator, Scott Shocklee of Phoenix, has a history of civil liens and judgments and a criminal record for trafficking in stolen property, drugs, domestic violence and theft.

Shocklee, 36, on Friday said he had nothing to say about the company. He then said Arizona authorities put out a lot of misinformation about his company and his conduct.

Yeah, I have an attorney and Im gonna have him put out a press release, Shocklee said in a brief phone interview. Most of the stuff said was wrong.

Asked about Cavaness and other people who lost money on his business, Shocklee said the claims are just allegations. He said the company operated ethically.

We did everything we were supposed to do, he said. They are making it so we are guilty until we prove that we are innocent.

Shocklee would not discuss his convictions or past lawsuits filed against him, saying that was his private business.

Shocklee is one of several individuals named in a recent suit by filed by the Arizona Attorney Generals Office against a network of telemarketing companies.

The companies named are: JST Merchant Services LLC, JSTEBIZSERVICES LLC, J and S Productions LLC, Top Choice Merchants LLC, BBS Merchant Group LLC, E-Biz-Services LLC, North Star Billing LLC, United Billing Services LLC and United Online Merchants LLC.

Individuals named in the suit are Jeffrey Alan Hankins, Thomas C. Mikla, Vyacheslav Steve Yagudayev, Veronica Cabrales and Brooke Marcus.

Marcus, in a telephone interview Friday, said she was just a manager of one of the companies. She described herself as a recovering drug addict. She indicated that she didnt think it was fair to include her name in stories about the telemarketing companies.

The attorney generals lawsuit accuses Shocklee, Marcus and other operators of violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, the Arizona Telephone Solicitations statute and the Arizona Organized Crime, Fraud and Terrorism Act (racketeering).

The suit alleges operators defrauded consumers out of millions of dollars by selling them programs they claimed would earn lucrative returns. Telemarketers falsely claimed they would advertise credit-card-processing services via the Web that would generate commissions for the consumer, according to the lawsuit.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge has frozen the defendants personal and business assets and is prohibiting them from doing business while the case is ongoing.

Cavaness, meanwhile, is trying to pick up the pieces. She had to enroll with a financial-service company to help pay the credit-card debts. She lives on a fixed retirement income and said she will continue struggling to pay her bills.

She said she isnt looking for sympathy but hopes her story will make others realize it can happen to anybody.

I got myself into this pickle, she said.

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The Best Bad Credit Credit Cards of 2014, Ranked by CreditCardChaser.com

New York, NY (PRWEB) January 15, 2014

CreditCardChaser.com, a leading website on credit card comparisons and reviews, announced their ranking of the best bad credit credit cards today. Bad credit credit cards are credit cards specifically available for those who have bad credit to rebuild their credit rating. These cards give consumers the opportunity to get out of debt and reestablish credit by showing creditors that they can use credit responsibly.

Credit Card Chaser experts focused on several factors, including minimum credit needed, introductory offers, interest rates, balance transfer terms, rewards programs, customer reviews, and expert opinions. According to Credit Card Chaser’s findings, here are the best bad credit credit cards of 2014:

First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard Secured Credit Card

The First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard Secured Credit Card is a full-feature Platinum MasterCard; however, the credit line is based on a security deposit rather than on a credit score. There is no credit history or minimum credit score required for approval, and this card reports monthly to all 3 major credit bureaus to help reestablish credit history. This card includes a low annual fee, and it can be completed with a quick and easy online application. The First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard Secured Credit Card’s secured credit line and easy reporting makes it Credit Card Chaser’s top pick of bad credit credit cards.

First Progress Platinum Prestige Secured MasterCard

Like the First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard Secured Credit Card, this credit card is a full-feature Platinum MasterCard that uses a security deposit to establish credit history. The minimum deposit is $300; however, you can set your credit limit up to $2000. This card has a quick and easy application, and it will also report to all 3 major credit bureaus each month to rebuild your history. With its easy use and approval, First Progress Platinum Prestige Secured MasterCard is one of the best credit cards to use for those with bad credit.

American Express Serve

Although not a credit card, this prepaid option allows cardholders to link their card with a bank account. They can then add money by email or text to their prepaid service free of charge. There are no credit checks, no minimum balances, and no hidden fees. Furthermore, card members can enjoy American Express service and security 24/7 and get free cash withdrawals at over 23,000 MoneyPass ATMs nationwide. Cardholders also get a $50 credit after receiving $250+ twice via Direct Deposit in a certain period of time. With their great programs, American Express Serve is an excellent choice for those with bad credit who want to use a prepaid credit card.

For consumers with bad credit who are looking to reestablish their credit history with a good credit card, these are the best bad credit credit cards of 2014. To access more information on credit cards, credit reviews, and credit reports, please click here: http://www.creditcardchaser.com/bad-credit-credit-cards/.

About Credit Card Chaser:

Credit Card Chaser is an authority credit card site that offers innovative comparison tools, reviews, calculators, and reports to help consumers find the best credit card for them.

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