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Foreclosures surged 58 percent in the past six months

BY HBSDEALER Staff

According to the real estate research firm RealtyTrac, the number of homes facing foreclosure rose 58 percent in the first six months of 2007 to 573,397 properties, compared with 363,672 properties in the same period last year.

California saw the highest number of foreclosure-related notices at 104,572 properties, more than 50 percent higher than one year ago and 80 percent higher than in the previous six months. Florida, Ohio and Texas followed with large double-digit increases in foreclosures.

In response to California’s growing foreclosure rate, a consumer group called the California Reinvestment Coalition has begun advocating for a moratorium on home foreclosures. The coalition is a group of nonprofit organizations that advocates on behalf of poor and minority residents.

Alan Fisher, executive director of the coalition, told the San Jose Mercury News that a six-month moratorium would give the Senate Banking, Finance and Insurance committee time to figure out a way for people to keep their homes.

“The curve is really starting to go up. We’re seeing just the beginning of a problem,” Fisher told the newspaper.

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Akzo Nobel continues in acquisition bid for ICI

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Netherlands-based coatings company Akzo Nobel is growing closer to acquiring Imperial Chemical Industries, the coatings giant known as ICI Paints.

ICI, with a corporate parent based in the United Kingdom, has a large North American presence with brands including Dulux, Glidden and Liquid Nails. The company was number 16 on HCN’s Top 500 list of home channel retailers, following estimated 2006 sales at ICI’s retail stores of $1.8 billion.

Akzo has upped its bid for ICI to about $16 billion (8 billion pounds) and, in recent weeks, has expressed confidence in receiving shareholder backing for the bid. According to Bloomberg, Akzo Nobel spokesman Tim van der Zanden said this week, “We are convinced that we will get the backing of our shareholders at a meeting at the end of October. We have already been on a mini-roadshow.”

Some shareholders reportedly like the new deal, which sets a per-share price that is more than 20 percent higher than ICI’s stock was worth on June 15. But at least one investment firm criticized the proposal — United States-based TPG-Axon, which owns a 3.5 percent stake in Akzo Nobel, reportedly called the deal “overpriced” and said it would lead to lower value for Akzo Nobel’s own stock.

If the acquisition comes to fruition, ICI will sell its U.S. National Starch Unit to Henkel, a German detergent maker.

In June, the U.K. Takeover Panel ordered Akzo Nobel to make a formal bid for ICI. Prior to that, Akzo Nobel made an informal bid of $14.2 billion for the paint giant. In May, ICI announced plans to delist from the New York Stock Exchange in a bid to save about $8 million. ICI sells paint in Europe, the Americas and in the Asia-Pacific region.

Akzo manufactures paints and coatings under the names Crown, Sikken and Schoenox, among others, with operations in 60 countries.

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Leonard Green & Partners completes purchase of Container Store

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The sale of specialty retailer Container Store to private investment firm Leonard Green & Partners has been completed. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to Container Store, the company’s retail store general managers and about 170 employees in all were extended equity opportunities. Leonard Green & Partners has major investments in several retailers, including Petco and David’s Bridal.

As part of the deal, Container Store will take on a new six-member board of directors, consisting of company CEO Kip Tindell, president Melissa Reiff and chief merchandising officer Sharon Tindell. From Leonard Green & Partners, board members will be vp Jonathan Sokoloff, vp Kristofer Galashan and partner Timothy Flynn.

Container Store has 39 locations in the United States, with future stores planned in Denver and Cherry Hill, N.J.

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