Bank of Moscow Unaffected by US Sanctions

MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – The new sanctions imposed by the United States on Russias Bank of Moscow will not affect the bank as its operations are tied to the internal market, a statement by the bank said.

External borrowings funding is not significant and doesnt exceed 2 percent of the banks total balance. Foreign currency borrowing was last made by the previous management in 2010. The bank did not plan and is not planning to borrow on foreign markets, the Bank of Moscow said.

The bank also noted that its clients would not be affected by the sanctions as all the banks accounts are in Russia and have not been restricted.

The banks credit cards can be used across Russia as well as abroad, the bank added.

On Tuesday, the United States introduced sanctions on three more Russian banks and the United Shipbuilding Corporation over the crisis in eastern Ukraine. The banks targeted by the sanctions include Russias second-largest banking group VTB, the Bank of Moscow and the Russian Agricultural Bank, or Rosselkhozbank, which is more than 50-percent state-owned.

The measure prohibits US citizens or companies from dealing with debt carrying maturities longer than 90 days, or with new equity. Other transactions are allowed.


US-based PE Firm Exits Repco Home Finance, Garners Rs 471 Crore

Mumbai: US-based private equity firm Carlyle Group has offloaded its entire 17.74 per cent stake in Chennai-based Repco Home Finance Ltd for over Rs 471 crore.

The sale marks Carlyes final exit from the housing financing firm where it once held a 49 per cent stake.

First Carlyle Growth VI, the growth investment fund of private equity major Carlyle, sold a total of 1.10 crore shares in Repco through open market route on Thursday, representing a 17.74 per cent stake.

The shares were offloaded on an average price of Rs 427.56 valuing the transaction at Rs 471.50 crore. The stake sale has reaped many-fold gains to Carlyle.

The buyers included DSP Blackrock, Nomura India, FT India Prima Fund, Jupiter India, and SmallCapWorld Fund.

The private equity firm had invested about Rs 108 crore in Repco during 2007 and 2009, with Carlyle Asia Growth Fund picking up an around 49 per cent stake in the company.

Through Repcos IPO process, launched in March 2013, Carlyle had diluted a small portion of its stake. Later, the private equity firm had sold some of its holding to Wolfensohn Capital Partners and Creador.

Repco was incorporated in 2000 as a subsidiary of Repatriates Co-operative Finance amp; Development Bank Limited, a government of India enterprise.

It operates 91 branches and 32 satellite centres in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal and Puducherry.

Shares in Repco, on Friday, ended at Rs 466.80 apiece on the BSE, down 2.20 per cent from the previous close.


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New champ at bowl meet

VETERAN Shasta Nand led his Satyas Fast Foods team to an upset victory against BSP Life during the cup semi-final of the ANZ Bank-sponsored business house bowl competition at the Nadi Sports Club on Wednesday.

Satyas Fast Food won the encounter 20-11. Former national rep Curtis Mar skippered the losing BSP Life team.

In the other semi-final Shorab Khan captained his Williams Gosling team to a 15-13 victory against Home Finance.

Nadi Sports Club bowling director Bobby Prasad said the match between Williams Gosling and Home Finance was a tight affair.

Prasad said Shorab pulled off the winning points in the final end.

There were some close results in the semi-finals of the other categories, he said.

The finals will be interesting and there will be prizes in all categories.

Last years champion Fiji Gas has been relegated to the bowl final.

The finals will be held next Wednesday.

Results: Cup: BSP Life 11 Satyas Fast Food 20, Williams Gosling 15 Home Finance 13

Plate: Gibson Freight 21 Fiji Airways 22, ACME Garments 20 Wyndham 16

Bowl: Jacks Fiji 30 ANZ Bank 9, Fiji Gas 22 Pacific Destination 7

Shield:Westpac Bank 17 Triple Three 15, Air Terminal Services 17 APTC 12.


When dealing with debt collectors, know your rights

Do you know you have rights when a debt collector contacts you? The collector must send you a written notice within five days of contacting you for the first time. The notice must say how much you owe, name the creditor, and tell you what to do if you don’t agree with the debt. (If you disagree with the debt on the notice, you have to send a letter within 30 days.)

Debt collectors may not harass, abuse, mislead, lie, or be unfair to you. You do not have to talk to a collector if you dont want to. Often, it is better to demand that the collector contact you in writing instead. You can tell the collector to contact you only in writing and then hang up the phone.


EFH tells judge it may scrap or modify its bankruptcy plan

Energy Future Holding Corp., the troubled Dallas-based energy company, may jettison a reorganization plan that it negotiated before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection unless it can reach new terms with creditors, Bloomberg reported Friday.

EFH may have to amend or throw out the deal, Edward Sassower, a lawyer for the company, said during a hearing Friday in a US Bankruptcy Court hearing, Bloomberg reported.

Energy Future had a deal in place with senior lenders before filing for bankruptcy in April that would split the company in two.

Oncor, the company’s profitable power transmission company would go to one group, Bloomberg said, while its unprofitable generating unit would go to another.

But creditors who were to get a smaller piece of the EFH pie has fought the plan vigorously.

Bloomberg said the Sassower told US Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Sontchi that his client expects to either be modify or cancel the plan in the next few days.

Energy Future Holdings filed for bankruptcy because of its crushing debt of more than $40 billion, leftover from its creation by a leveraged buyout of the former TXU Electric.

EFH was created in 2007 in the largest-ever leveraged buyout by Fort Worth-based TPG Capital, KKR Co., and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., but its bet on rising natural gas prices failed as gas prices fell dramatically.

Lance Murray edits and writes for the DBJs website and can be reached at 214-706-7106. Subscribe to our email newsletters.


City to open Financial Empowerment Center

An open house is scheduled for 3-6 pm Thursday, July 10, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4. The center is located at 20 N. Fifth St.

Available to citizens of Ottawa County, the center offers free one-on-one professional financial counseling to help consumers take control of their finances by dealing with debt, improving their credit, creating a spending plan, and gaining access to safe and affordable financial products.

Services will be combined with integration partners such as Ottawa County Michigan Works, Job Seekers and the state’s Department of Human Services. The center also interfaces with the city’s existing housing services that include down payment assistance, home maintenance and repair grants, and housing counseling services.

“If we can help people take control of their finances by giving them the tools to financial independence we have provided an important service for those of our community that are still struggling in this new economy,” McCaleb said.

Appointments are required and can be made by calling Grand Haven’s Neighborhood Housing Services at 616-935-3270.


Big Society Capital invests £10m to support charity bond growth

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Texas cities work to rein in payday loans

(c) 2014, The Washington Post.

In late 2012, Gail Rowlands eyesight was dimming. She was in her late 60s, and knew shed need a cataract surgery — but the insurance deductible was going to be $1,000. Shed lost most of her savings going through a divorce, and needed the rest for daily expenses, so the rest had to come from somewhere.

Thats when she noticed an ad in Greensheet, a listings site, for The Cash Store. She thought the ad said she could pay back the loan at her own pace, and so she didnt think too much about walking into one of their 15 Houston locations, handing over pay stubs and her bank account information, putting down the names of five friends and relatives, and leaving with $1,455 in crisp bills.

The APR was 581.72 percent. And thats some very expensive money: If she made all 10 payments as scheduled, it would have cost $2,831.54 on top of what she borrowed.

They made it look like I could carry that out for year or two, but thats not how it ended up, Rowland says. Should I have caught that? I shouldve, but I did not. You go in, and 15 minutes later, you walk out with cash in your hand. That is so easy and so appealing.

The payments started coming out of her bank account, every two weeks: $357.21, out of an approximately $1,600 pre-tax paycheck from her job at a construction supply company. What was left wasnt enough to cover her bills, so Rowland called them to ask for a break, but there was no negotiating. After a few months, on the advice of a local non-profit, she closed the account.

Thats when the phone calls started. They called her every day, called her 80-year-old mother, her uncle, coworkers, asking if they knew what she was up to, and to tell her to get in touch. Gradually, the calls tapered down to every week, and then, half-heartedly, every month. And then, two weeks ago, somebody called her at work — this time, claiming he said he was from the Houston police department. The IRS had audited her Wells Fargo account, he said, and found that she was still in debt.

He wanted $1,600, and he wanted it before they hung up the phone, Rowland says. If she couldnt pay, said the voice, he would be over to bring her down to the police station and book her fingerprints right then and there. She told them she would call back, and never did, and the supposed police officer never came. So now, shes just waiting, in an uneasy stalemate. I dont see an end to it unless they just let it go, she says. Its tough, because did I take the loan? Yes. Should I pay it back in good faith? Yes. Have I tried? Yes I have. Are they doing anything to make it easier? They are not. (The Cash Store did not return a call for comment.)

Last Thursday, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau entered an order against Irving, Texas-based ACE Cash Express for some of the same practices that Rowland was on the receiving end of: Being relentlessly overzealous in its pursuit of borrowers, and creating a culture of coercion aimed at trapping them in cycles of debt. It was a high-profile bust, but will hardly curb the industry; the much longer-lived Federal Trade Commission has been taking such enforcement actions for years, and havent managed to stop the abuse.

But something else is moving in favor of Rowland and people like her, lured into financial ruin by an immediate need for cash. On July 1, a city ordinance went into effect that makes some of the most pernicious parts of the loan she got illegal. And its not just Houston: 18 cities in Texas in all have passed a similar set of rules since 2011, finally putting some limits on an industry that state law had previously left almost untouched.

Its just another example of how, as the federal government remains gridlocked and some states fail to act, cities are stepping into the breach.

Four years ago, ACE Cash Express was the company that turned Dallas Council member Jerry Allen into the payday loan industrys worst enemy.

The day before he was about to celebrate the launch of the Bank On Dallas program, which helps people get bank accounts, Allen got a call from a lobbyist asking if he would meet with the ACEs executives. He didnt have time, and declined. But the next day, along with regular council business, it became apparent that two council members had taken the meeting: They made a proclamation declaring ACE a model corporate citizen, after it donated $100,000 to relief efforts in Haiti. It irritated me that these guys thought they could play that game, Allen said. It was game on.

Texas has been a gold mine for payday lenders since 2005, when a court ruling sanctioned a loophole in usury laws that allowed them to charge whatever interest they pleased. Storefronts proliferated to the point where, according to a 2012 report by Texas Appleseed, the state accounted for 60 percent of the four biggest publicly traded firms profits. A major push by religious and community groups to pass restrictions in the state legislature failed in its last biannual session, in 2013; they only managed to require that borrowers be provided with certain disclosures when they took out loans.

Allen, however, had already started pushing on a different front. In 2011, he got an ordinance passed that limited the number of installments on a loan to four, each of which must pay down 25 percent of the loan principal, and cant exceed 20 percent of a borrowers paycheck. On top of that, the council passed zoning restrictions that prevented new shops from opening within certain distances from highways, residential areas, and other payday lenders.

Its not really an aggressive set of rules. Because municipalities arent allowed to legislate much on top of an area already regulated by the state, Dallas didnt limit the actual interest or fees the lenders could charge, so as to remain safe from legal challenges. Still, Allen says, not one single new credit service organization, as theyre called in the state, has applied to set up shop in Dallas since it passed. And meanwhile, 17 other cities — including most of the largest, besides Fort Worth — have passed similar rules. Thats left advocates, especially Allen, feeling triumphant.

You can run, but you better run fast, because weve got jets on, Allen says. Go down your rabbit holes, because were going to put concrete in em. Weve got em on the run, and were shooting em in the back.

Allen doesnt hold out much hope that Texas next legislative session will significantly strengthen or standardize the ordinances that cities have been adopting on their own; hes just hoping the conservative House wont overrule them. In the meantime, hes waiting for the CFPBs expected rulemaking in the fall, which could include national requirements for a borrowers ability to pay back loans, even though the agency cant cap the interest rates outright. And importantly, hes working to develop alternative banking services, so people dont find themselves in Gail Rowlands shoes in the first place — a common critique of the industry, which says people will just seek out even worse options if they cant borrow against their next paycheck.

One possible substitute: Community loan centers, like this one in Brownsville, Texas, which offer more affordable small-dollar loans. Theyll have an easier time expanding once payday lenders retreat, as they have in most places that place serious limits on their operations.

If theres a situation where people dont have access, Allen says, well then dad gummit, weve got to get it to them.

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