Archive for February 2016

Premier Cru: FBI probing Ponzi scheme claims, owner files for bankruptcy

BERKELEY — The FBI has confirmed it is investigating claims of a Ponzi scheme involving Berkeley-based fine wine purveyor Premier Cru, and the owner of the disgraced company has also filed for personal bankruptcy.

Owner John Fox, who already sold his home to pay off the bank that held its mortgage, filed for bankruptcy Monday claiming he had between zero and $50,000 in assets, while owing $50 million to $100 million. The wine entrepreneur, who former customers say was known to drive expensive cars, is renting a 1,500-square-foot Concord tract home near the citys BART station for a listed price of $2,700 a month, according to his court petition. He has two weeks to provide the court an itemized list of his debts and assets.

Foxs fall from grace follows the bankruptcy of Premier Cru last month, which listed $70 million in debts, owed largely to more than 9,000 customers, and only $7 million in assets. More than one dozen disgruntled customers have sued the company for millions of dollars claiming it was a wine pyramid scheme.

The FBI is now asking customers with complaints about the company to email the agency at

Due to the wide scope and high number of complaints from people who claim to have been impacted by Premier Crus bankruptcy, the FBI has established an email address for individuals to notify us with complaints, concerns and tips, FBI spokeswoman Michele Ernst said.

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Commissioners: Refinancing Debt Could Save $15M

Commissioner OMalley said refinancing the debt will give the county financial flexibility. So, if theres anything that we need in the near future, were always going to get a great rate and were going to get a great savings on the citizens investment because its their money.

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The incredible story of CNET’s founder: He beat bankruptcy, now he wants to beat the banks

He discovered that his father had killed himself 30 miles from San Francisco after battling depression, just a month after Minor had moved to the city.

The biggest setback to his career, though, followed his divorce in 2006.

“I, around 2007, went into depression and basically sort of disappeared,” he explains.

As Minor was battling a six-year period of depression, the great recession of 2008 occurred and eventually he went into personal bankruptcy. It’s a combination understandably he found difficult to deal with.

“I didn’t talk to anyone. Often, I didn’t even show up in (bankruptcy) court, because I was basically in my house all the time.”

An addiction to the finer things in life?

This silence on Minor’s part led others to fill in the gaps in the story. In May 2013, Bloomberg speculated that “a fascination with houses, hotels, horses and art” was at the root of his money problems, due to the list of extravagant assets listed in his bankruptcy filing that spring.

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UPDATE 1-LPC-Senior lenders back Glencore’s loan refinancing

(Updates Glencore declined to comment)

By Alasdair Reilly

LONDON Feb 9 Global diversified natural
resource company Glencore is expected to wrap up senior
syndication of a one-year revolving credit that refinances
existing debt by the end of next week after a strong market
response, bankers said on Tuesday.

Glencore is refinancing a US$8.45bn loan that supports the
companys trading activities, and was agreed in May 2015.

The refinancing raised around US$8.5bn from Glencores top
lenders. The company may reduce the facility slightly but the
deal is unlikely to be below US$8bn, bankers said.

Glencores core relationship banks backed the deal despite
commodity markets volatility and 34 banks committed US$250m each
to the loan.

Glencore declined to comment.

The loan is expected to be launched to a wider general
syndication in April after Glencore releases its results by
active bookrunners ABN AMRO, HSBC, ING, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi
UFJ and Santander.

The existing loan was part of a bigger US$15.25bn financing
that was arranged in May 2015, which also included a US$6.8bn,
five-year revolving credit facility that will stay in place.

Pricing on the new loan is very competitive, a banker said.
Last years financing paid margins of 40-45bp over Libor, but
the market has moved against mining companies in the interim.

Glencore is rated Baa3/BBB- after recent credit rating
downgrades from Moodys and Standard Poors (SP) in December
2015 and February 2016 respectively.

Moodys said that the pricing environment in the mining
industry would remain unfavourable in 2016-17 as a reason for
its downgrade and SP cited material challenges to the mining

Other recent loans for similarly rated European companies
have paid around 50bp over Libor.

(Additional reporting by IFRs Gareth Gore; Editing by Tessa

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Tampa bank CEO files for bankruptcy tied to Michigan horse track deal gone bad

Veteran Michigan banker and horse racing investor Jerry Campbell burst on the Tampa Bay financial scene nearly a decade ago, leading a Tampa bank that would become known as HomeBanc. Last month, Campbell declared personal bankruptcy, citing his inability to pay $9 million in debt.

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Plan Ahead to Ease the Pain of Major Medical Expenses

By Eric Toya
Learn more about Eric on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor

Major medical expenses can cause tremendous financial hardship. In fact, a 2013 NerdWallet study found that medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.

All medical bills can potentially be overwhelming, but the difference between emergency and anticipated expenses is your ability to plan for the latter.

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Huntley School District 158 OKs refinancing, tax abatements

District 158 paid an outside graphic designer $1,500 to create a new district logo, as part of a re-branding effort.

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NATRA: debt restructuring and refinancing

Cuatrecasas, Gonrcalves Pereira has advised one of the coordinating institutions on the process for the acquisition of NATRA debt and on the design and implementation of the refinancing, including the execution of a lock-up agreement.

The refinancing has entailed the corporate restructuring of the NATRA GROUP, in which a Midco company was established (fully-owned by NATRA, SA) to which all material subsidiaries were contributed. In this manner, the financial debt was split into (i) Midco debt, which included(a) the most sustainable debt in its Tranche A (which grouped the bridge financing granted as of the 2013 refinancing and any additional liquidity requirements) and (b) part of the debt deriving from the 2013 refinancing in its Tranche B; and (ii) Holdco debt or NATRA, SA debt.

The original NATRA creditors accepted the cancellation of their guarantees prior to the 2015 refinancing (including the foreign guarantees in Belgium, France and Canada) so that the Midco debt could benefit from first-ranking guarantees, while the Holdco debt and hedges benefited from second and third-ranking guarantees. The regulation among the creditors of various debts was implemented by means of an intercreditor agreement.

With respect to issuing debentures , it was envisaged that if the NATRA shareholders did not subscribe the bonds, certain Midco debt creditors would subscribe them by offsetting their debt with NATRA. Issuing debentures is secured with a first-ranking pledge on 100% of the Midco equity shares (concurrent with the pledge on the Midco equity shares in favour of the Holdco debt creditors).

Likewise, once the transaction was designed and the essential characteristics arranged among the NATRA GROUP, the agent and the two main creditors, a lock-up agreement was executed to attain certain commitments for refinancing the debt by the NATRA Group, regulate the system for debt assignment during the refinancing negotiation process and establish a monitoring commission and other commitments by the NATRA GROUP.

This restructuring has achieved the accession by all creditor institutions to the refinancing, the retention of key staff (as well as the obligation to appoint a restructuring adviser under certain circumstances) and the optimization of the NATRA GROUP debt structure that had led the company to subscribe several refinancing and bridge debts in a few years.

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Three times it just makes sense to refinance your student loans

It’s 2016. Do you know how much you pay in student loan bills every month?

The start of a new year is a natural time to take a good look at how you spend your money. If you qualify, student loan refinancing is one way to cut down your student loan payments or shrink the number of years they weigh on you.

Refinancing replaces your current loans with a new, private student loan at a lower interest rate. The catch: You must meet specific criteria to be eligible. Plus, if it’s federal loans that you’re refinancing, you’ll lose access to certain student loan repayment plans and forgiveness programs. That means it makes sense to look into refinancing only when you’ve hit certain milestones.

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