Talk of the bay: Subprime jobs were just on loan, turns out

By Times Wires
Published May 11, 2007

Subprime mortgage lenders gaveth Tampa many jobs during the housing boom, but the industry continues to taketh them away. The city's layoff toll rose to 778 on Wednesday when New Century Financial Corp. disclosed plans to cut 177 local staffers. The California lender, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April, follows layoff announcements by Fremont Investment & Loan (301 jobs), H&R Block Mortgage (141), First NLC Financial Services (92) and AcuLink Mortgage Solutions (67).

E-mail latest step in OSI vote appeal
How badly does OSI Restaurant Partners need shareholder votes for its proposed $40-per-share buyout deal? Badly enough to e-mail an appeal to its own staff. OSI, the Tampa parent of Outback Steakhouse and seven other chains, including Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Lee Roy Selmon's barbecue and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse, postponed a scheduled shareholder meeting Monday after learning it lacked the majority votes needed to approve the $3.2-billion deal. On Wednesday, general counsel Joe Kadow urged staffers who hadn't yet voted their stock or restricted shares to complete an attached proxy card ... and e-mail it to a company employee. No pressure there. The rescheduled shareholder meeting is set for Tuesday.

Healthier approach to WellCare sales
WellCare Health Plans Inc. wants to stop aggressive sales practices, like the incident in December that resulted in eight dead Georgia residents showing up on its Medicare Advantage rolls. The Tampa insurer has instituted new safeguards to ensure sales agents don't break the rules. Paper applications will be largely replaced by inbound phone calls from prospective customers to ensure they understand their benefits before enrolling. WellCare will follow up with outbound calls to confirm personal data. A secret-shopper program will also randomly monitor agents' sales pitches. WellCare, which contracts with 8, 000 brokers, is targeting the marketing of its fast-growing private fee for service plan, which has over 32, 000 members in 40 states.