Talk of the Bay

News of note.

By Times Staff Writers
Published March 3, 2007

Hard Rock deal in works, but hardly done

Deal or no deal? In a story published Friday, Bloomberg News reported that the Seminole Tribe of Florida reached a settlement to end lawsuits against the developer of its Hard Rock hotels and casinos in Tampa and Hollywood. True, the two sides are talking. But the tribe's statement to Standard & Poor's Rating Services, picked up by Bloomberg, was that it intended "to execute a nonbinding letter of intent" to settle with Cordish Co., and affiliate Power Plant Entertainment. Hardly a done deal. An attorney for the Seminoles said Friday that both sides have agreed to the core terms - that the tribe will give Power Plant a $525-million loan and pay $10.5-million annually for 22 years to make the litigation go away. Talks are on a fast track and a real settlement could come as soon as Wednesday, said attorney Alan Kluger.

Coast's loan losses continue to build

The Bradenton parent of beleaguered Coast Bank must feel like it's trying to run a marathon in lead boots. On Friday, it said it will set aside $21-million to help cover possible loan losses, with $14-million specifically aimed at covering up to 482 problem loans tied to St. Petersburg builder CCI's alleged failure to complete its home building obligations. In all, Coast Bank's parent said it lost a hefty $17.3-million last year, following a much more modest loss in 2005 and even a profit in 2004.

Son ascends in Sembler shakeup

The succession plan zoomed into sharp focus Friday at Sembler Co. The St. Petersburg developer said Greg Sembler, 45-year-old son of founder and chairman Mel Sembler, 76, will take over as chief executive officer in 16 months. Craig Sher, 53, who served in that role for 19 years, will then become executive chairman and assume more of a strategic and advisory role in the family-owned enterprise. Sembler also named Jeff Fuqua, who has headed the company's Atlanta operation - where he tackled several of the company's early mixed-use projects - as the company's president of development. He will be moved up to president of the company next month. Ron Wheeler, who has handled $3-billion worth of transactions for Sembler in his 11 years as vice president of investments, will become chief operating officer. The moves culminate a one-year "internal visioning process" planning for the company's next decade.

Industry in crisis

Learn about the problems facing insurance companies in Florida at tampabay.com/insurance.