REAL ESTATE

Real estate online firm sees recovery in 2010

BY CSA STAFF

San Francisco LoopNet found, in response to its “LoopNet Pulse Poll,” that only one-third (33%) of respondents expect commercial real estate sales transaction activity to recover in 2009. Less than half (42%) do not expect the market to pick up until 2010, and a large number (26%) are not expecting recovery until 2011.

Forty-six percent of respondents see access to capital as the most significant obstacle to recovery. Economic uncertainty, which in turn significantly influences asset pricing, was the second most cited obstacle, at 29% of respondents. Close to a quarter (23%) of respondents explicitly cited differences in pricing expectations between buyers and sellers as the most important obstacle.

While the results were largely consistent across all three major participant segments, owners rate the importance of access to capital slightly higher, and differing price expectations slightly lower, than brokers or investors.

Two thirds (66%) of respondents expect that price declines of 10% or more from today’s prices will be required to restart the market, with 37% predicting 10% to 20% declines and 30% predicting declines north of 30%.

Marrying these results with patterns observed in the residential real estate industry, LoopNet said it believes demand-side activity from interested buyers may start to increase at least six months before transaction volumes start to reaccelerate.

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It will all be over soon

BY CSA STAFF

This is the week. Target’s annual meeting is scheduled for Thursday, which means a resolution is at hand in the proxy battle over whether four existing board members should retain their seats or be replaced by an alternate slate of directors, as proposed by Bill Ackman with Pershing Square Capital Management. What began as a fairly civil matter has in recent weeks has become less so, with both sides making their case in strongly worded statements that has put Target on the defensive as it attempts to counter Ackman’s charges regarding board members qualifications, their business acumen and the company’s interpretation of corporate governance.

Most recently, Pershing Square accused Target of failing to comply with its own governance guidelines, and, as evidence of that assertion, cited an article from 1984 in the Harvard Business Review in which Kenneth Dayton, one of the company’s founding family members, said board members should resign after 12 years of service or when they reach 65. According to Pershing Square, Target nominees Solomon Trujillo and Anne Mulcahy should step down immediately because of a change in their employment status. Target contends the move is another attempt at misdirection by Pershing Square and said Ackman didn’t read the company’s corporate governance documents and further accused him of shameful attacks on board members.

The back and forth between the two sides for the past several months has been confusing to say the least, with shareholders challenged to separate fact from fiction and ask themselves whether Ackman represents change they can believe in. Target has issued 10 press releases on the subject since the beginning of March, and while Ackman has distributed nearly as many, he has been more aggressive in the use of national media and the Internet, appearing on CNBC and orchestrating Web cast meetings.

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Borders names two new IT execs

BY CSA STAFF

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Borders Group announced two appointments within its Information Technology group: Scott Laverty, CIO, and Paul Devitt, director, e-commerce Systems.

Prior to joining Borders Group, Laverty was a partner with IBM for two years where he was the SAP retail practice leader for the United States and directed programs for leading cosmetic and optical retailers. From 2001 through 2006, he was a senior manager with Deloitte Consulting where he was the North American Oracle Retail practice leader, which included project management for a variety of retailers, including a leading bookseller, home building and supplies retailer, furniture merchant and an office supplies and services retailer, among others.

At Borders, Laverty is responsible for the overall vision, strategic direction and tactical execution of all information technology systems and solutions that support the company’s business operations, which include approximately 1,000 Borders and Waldenbooks stores, the Borders.com e-commerce site, and the company’s distribution facilities and corporate headquarters.

Before joining Borders Group, Devitt was senior manager of e-commerce technologies at Circuit City for three years, where he managed Web development, contact center infrastructure and cross-channel integration for circuitcity.com. From 2001 through 2006, Devitt worked for Capital One in a variety of management roles including leading IT teams within operations, risk management and information security.

At Borders, Devitt oversees the design, architecture and implementation efforts for the company’s e-commerce systems ensuring that they are aligned with the organization’s business priorities and meet key functional, technical, cost and operational requirements.

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