General Growth Properties Inc – Take Over Target

General Growth Properties Inc used to be know as GGP; after filing for bankruptcy protection back in April 2009 the stock has been relisted OTC as a pink under the new ticker GGWPQ. If you read any of the discussion boards about this stock then you should already be familiar with the large group of lovers and haters of the stock. All I have been able to piece together from the message boards so far is that people who love this stock provide no evidence to suggest it should be valued higher and people who hate the stock just yammer on about the range that it has traded since filing for chapter 11.

After digging a little deeper, not that you need to dig much, you can find a few interesting facts.

o GGP has been in the shopping center business for over 50 years

o One of the Largest REITs in the USA

o Involved in buying, selling, developing, and managing real estate

Bankruptcy Restructuring

o To restructure finances and de-leverage balance sheet because collapse of credit markets made it impossible for GGP to refinance maturing debt.

o Bankruptcy Judge (Gropper) has been making beneficial decisions to allow GGWPQ to restructure providing lots of time to refinance the dept the way the company wants.

o Financial performance of the company has been very positive since filing for chapter 11.

I have been reading a number of blogs that post frequently about General Growth Properties Inc. Most are well versed in the company’s affairs, but there just seems to be something missing that no one has really been discussing. Alright, you caught me…I’m talking about potential takeovers whether hostile or voluntary. Who you might ask, would be interested in purchasing some of the best income producing properties the United States of America has to offer?

I’m sure a large list of companies and personal investors immediately pop into your head like they did mine. Let’s be somewhat realistic here and think of some real potential Takeover Tightens. Potential buyers will all have a number of required attributes:

o Deep pockets! Cash is King after all
o Highly Informed about Commercial Real Estate

When you think of companies or individuals that possess these attributes think again and then remember this: Real Estate Prices have tanked, especially in the USA and there is potential for another major drop in commercial real estate on the horizon.

So who’s got the goods? Look no further than some of the many Cash Flush REITs. According to CNN Money in June 2009 REITs have been raising cash to go on the offense to acquired distressed properties and distressed REITs are also targeted. Some of the well know names that are on the office include the following:

Boston Properties (BXP), Regency Centers (REG), Simon Property Group (SPG), and Vornado Realty Trust (VNO).

David Simon, CEO of Simon Property Group, was even quoted in a recent CNN Money article stating that “One big opportunity the gang at Simon is keeping an eye on is the portfolio of General Growth Properties.”

American REITs are not the only ones on the offensive though. Look to some of the larger Canadian Players, who have experience a tempered downturn compared to American rivals, to make some major acquisitions in the coming months.

The most notable cash raising I can find is that of Brookfield Properties Corporation and Brookfield Asset Management Inc (a Canadian Group) who on August 20, 2009 announced a $4 Billion Real Estate Turnaround Consortium. Bling Bling, according to the article this Mountain of Cash is dedicated to investing in under-performing real estate with a minimum of $500 million to be allocated to global purchases and the remainder, $3.5 Billion, available for North American Purchases!

Look out General Growth Properties, the vultures are here and ready to scoop up some of your assets. There are two scenarios I can see for General Growth, a fire sale of individual properties to the highest bidders, or a share buyout. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a total buyout is on the way, but there will likely be more than one bidder so I buy today. Bought at $2.82.

Property Investment Opportunities in Mongolia – Sheer Madness, or is it?

I attended recently a terribly smart cocktail party in a Belgravia Embassy. I hovered contentiously, as I usually do, near the bar and the exit of the kitchens.

As I reached discreetly for my 10th little foie gras toast in nearly so many seconds, I was addressed abruptly by a very distinguished but firm Lady in a large (and quite silly) hat.

She addressed me; chin up, with a chilly “now young man, what are you doing with yourself these days”.

Her question had the tone of a sarcastic demand full of contempt for a young man who wasted his life so well.

I recovered from the embarrassment of dropping the foie gras toast, and, only slightly put off, answered in my most polite voice that I was indeed selling flats in Mongolia.

My distinguished interlocutor visibly stiffened, in a sudden jerk, brought her handbag closer to her chest, and remained thus startled in a state fit for Madame Tussauds.

“It’s very exciting you know! Very interesting market out there.” Finally she declared, in utmost frustration in a barely controlled high pitched voice “MONGOLIA!! What on earth for!! Never heard such nonsense!!!” long pause… “I didn’t even know they had flats!”

With this declaration she did an abrupt about turn and went off muttering something to the likes of “silly little man, what gibberish, Mongolia…”

I was not in the least disturbed by this incident but instead found it rather amusing as this was not the first time I had a similar reaction, usually bewilderment.

Mongolia is not a country which people would associate with investments of any kind, neither did I until recently.

When I think of Mongolia the image of Genghis and his fierce warriors come to mind, I expect most people think alike.

I recently went there and was surprised, if slightly shocked, to find a country in a full economic expansion.

I had epic and romantic visions of proud horseman wondering around a city of tents; instead I was greeted by a large full scale soviet city complete with international restaurants, traffic lights and jams, bars and trendy nightclubs.

I enquired as to the reason for that incredible sight; here is what I learned:

In the past 18 months or so, Mongolia has enjoyed a kind of delayed post-Soviet boom, as years of gradual reform (and U.S. aid) finally begin to pay off. While other former satellites, including Ukraine and Belarus, never fully recovered from a post-Soviet economic depression, Mongolia has regained its Soviet-era income level ($500 per capita) and is not looking back.

The economy has grown at a rate of 10.6% for 2004 but is expected to stabilise around 8.5% for 2005. Mongolia cleared off its debt to Russia for assistance received during soviet times in 2003. Inflation is reducing every year and was only 5% in 2005 compared to the 53% seen in 1995 while its external debt is equally decreasing and has reached 1.1 billion USD. “Mongolia has made great progress towards its transition to a market based system since the early 1990′s” (IMF, letter of intent on Mongolia, 2003)

In 2004 large deposits of gold and other minerals such as copper, molybdenum, tin, tungsten, iron and ore were found; this is expected to create an incredible growth in the economy. A number of British and American Mining companies have moved in and will start extracting soon, this means a lot of foreign investment and a considerable expatriate community will develop from it.

Foreign investment is increasing every year and so are the numbers of tourists and expats. Political corruption is very low for the region and the government is stable and democratically elected.

Sadly the picture for the Mongolian economy is not all rosy, they export copper, apparel, livestock, animal products, cashmere, wool, hides, fluorspar, other nonferrous metals but everything else has to be imported. Unemployment is decreasing but is still at 6.7%. “This is a rough neighbourhood, with rough neighbours,” says a Western diplomat in Ulan Bator. “No former Soviet state has come so far, and no former communist country in Asia has shown as much commitment to reform as Mongolia.”

The Real Estate market is possibly the most interesting part of the economy. The numbers of apartments approved by the city has increased by about 20% every year for the past three and the rental yields are some of the highest in Asia at about 18%. It has been calculated that demand so far outstrips supply that it will not be equilibrated before 2015. There are an increasing amount of developers such as the American entrepreneur Mr Lee Cashell who make the most of this situation by developing large luxury residential projects in the heart of Ulaan Bataar as an investment opportunity for European Investors.

Mr Cashell has barely completed a very successful residential complex called the Park View Residence that he is already in Europe selling his new property to British investors and agents: the Regency Residence. This promises to be the most luxurious and attractive development in Mongolia.

What makes the Regency Residence so unique in Ulaanbaatar is that there are very few modern, new build apartment blocks. Especially ones built to a luxurious Western European standard. Other apartments in the city date back from the Soviet era and most could do with some serious renovation work. This makes new apartments like the ones at the Regency Residence extremely sought after, particularly as demand outstrips supply.

High interest cost, lack of investment capital and low equity financing is hampering the developer’s ability to build large scale luxury apartments and thus meet the large demand.

In the coming years it is expected that developer will be able to increase capacity and produce more apartments however the scarcity factor is expected to remain for years to come.

UB is one of the only cities in the world where half of its residents are not living in apartments as many citizens remain in the traditional dwellings in the hillside surrounding the city

Consumers Need Protection From Payment Protection Insurance

A year after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) began investigating the widespread mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI), the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has, for the first time, fined a mortgage broker for selling the policies to customers who either did not need them, or on which they could not claim.

The FSA judged in the landmark case that many of those who were sold PPI policies would be likely to have their claims excluded due to pre-existing medical conditions, or already had cover in place from previous mortgages or life insurance. The FSA concluded that the Bournemouth based Regency, which specialises in selling “right-to-buy” mortgages to customers who usually find it difficult to obtain standard credit, did not make sufficient checks on its customers’ full circumstances in order to make a suitable sale. This meant that customers had been sold policies that would never be able pay out, regardless of future events, thus making them worthless as protection for the policy holders.

The OFT started their investigation following a ‘super complaint’ by the Citizens’ Advice into the PPI industry which a year ago had an estimated 20 million policies in force and was producing an annual revenue that was in excess of £5 billion. According to Citizens’ Advice Director of Policy, Teresa Perchard:

“People buy payment protection insurance because they are looking for peace of mind. Given the scale of borrowing in the UK and the amount of money consumers spend on PPI, it is vitally important that they get a product that gives them this and meets their needs at a fair price.”

Citizens’ Advice put forward the complaint believing the mis-selling of PPI was endemic throughout the finance industry, with policies being too expensive and often not providing appropriate cover to those most vulnerable. In its investigations, the FSA found that a third of the firms surveyed were indeed mis-selling this type of cover, prompting the OFT to launch its own formal investigation in April 2006.

5 Best Android Tablet Finance Apps

For Android tablets, the common reason for buying them may be for entertainment and leisure. Did you know that Android tablets are also proven useful in the financial world? Android has offered so many finance apps in the market which are very much relevant and useful to your every day financial needs. Whether you want the latest finance news or you need to make monetary computations, finance-related Android apps have got it all for you. Here is a list of the five best Android finance apps in the market:

1. Finance

Ever wanted to have a personal financial planner but you just can’t afford to pay for one? Simply called Finance, Android has come up with a powerful app which strips you of the need to hire a personal planner. Finance is an app which is capable of providing you with the most recent updates about the stock market. The best feature of this app is that it provides you with stock quotes which are very much reliable because they are quoted real-time. This app also syncs well with your stock portfolios which are loaded in Google Finance.

2. Real Estate Droid

If it is your dream to be a real-estate businessman someday or to be a licensed real estate broker, then this finance app is the best deal for you. Real Estate Droid comes with features which can, for one, search houses for sale. Once you find a catch, you can search information about its neighborhood with real-time updates. With this app, you can also check out mortgage quotes made by real lenders and compute for mortgage loans. You can always take advantage of the built-in loan calculator.

3. Financisto

Financisto is a finance app that is very much capable of doing many things. For one, it lets you add multiple types of bank accounts and even a multiple number of accounts per type. This means that you can add checking and savings accounts together into your file manager. For both types, you can add more than one account. With Financisto, you can also monitor which among your payments are recurring. Once you see the pattern, you can schedule them to make sure you don’t lag with your payments. This app can also help you create either a short-term or long-term budget.

4. Karl’s Mortgage Calculator

If Real Estate Droid is not enough for your mortgage needs, then you can always opt for a more specialized finance app, which is Karl’s Mortgage Calculator. By using this app, you can calculate how much mortgage you should be paying in the future and you can even visually see the results with its easy-to-read charts and graphs. This app can help you compute for your future payments, given the principal loan amounts, interest rate and terms. Karl’s Mortgage Calculator, however, is limited to supporting interest-only amortization and Canadian computations.

5. PayPal

Almost everybody knows of PayPal now. With the PayPal Android app offered in the market, you can do all things you normally do on your PayPal account. The bonus point here is that apart from being able to pay an item, you can also help hasten its delivery process. So, if you’re dying to take hold of that most recent Victoria Secret scent, then you don’t have to wait for the normal number of shipping days just to have it. You can always make it two or three days earlier with this app. With PayPal app at your reach, you can always access your PayPal account anytime you want.

Top 5 iPad Finance Apps for Business

The past two years have been a whirlwind in mobile computing and people are embracing these new devices, like the iPad, at breakneck speeds. Apple’s Fourth Quarter revenues jumped 21 percent from a year ago, including the sale of over 11 million iPads. It’s clear that the huge advances in mobile devices are not only changing how we live our personal lives but also how we do business. For business, especially small business, some of the biggest advantages are coming from the app world. If you want to make your business finances a breeze, check out these apps:

1. Square: Credit card transactions have never been easier. The developers of this free app will send you an actual credit card reader that plugs into your iPad. It’s secure, easy, mobile, and even has built in analytics to track sales, collect tips and tax, and send electronic receipts via email or text. There is no need to delay the payment process anymore. Oh, and they only charge a 2.75% transaction fee: no contracts, fees, or merchant accounts necessary.

2. Expensify has the traveling business world in an uproar. The features of this app are impressive at the least: sync banking information to track purchases in real time, digitize receipts to reduce the chance of losing them (just snap a picture and the app will discern and note the necessary info), customize and email reports for approval, and be reimbursed to your checking account. You’ll be your accountant’s best friend with the organization and ease provided by this app.

3. Time Master + Billing: With a 4 star rating in the app store, this app sets the bar for time and expense tracking. The overall best feature is flexibility to be customized to fit how you work – rounding minutes, multiple running timers, billing rates, expenses, client project/tasks, and so many more options. There are even additional modules available to include invoicing, QuickBooks export, and wireless sync between mobile devices.

4. Intuit GoPayment Credit Card Terminal: Similar to Square but a little bit more involved. It’s also a free app, but you have to jump through a few more hoops (AKA a 15 minute application process) to be approved to use this service. However, if you’re looking for a proven brand name, this may be for you.

5. QuickBooks Connect: This is a great supplement to your QuickBooks Online subscription (QuickBooks 2011 users you’ll have to get a paid subscription to use this app past 30 days). Manage customer information and balances; create invoices and sales receipts; convert estimates to invoices; email estimates, invoices, and sales receipts and more with this handy app.

Mobile computing can make all the difference in the efficiency of your business. Look for the bottlenecks in your financial administration and ask yourself, is there an app for that?

Kristi Daeda is an online marketing strategist that works with companies nationwide to define and execute powerful online marketing strategies. Read more about her thoughts on online marketing at her website [http://www.powerhousestrategy.com] or as featured on Mobile Apps Designers.