New Canal Place office
Stonegate Mortgage of Indianapolis is opening a branch office at the Canal Place complex on South Main Street in downtown Akron.
Akron resident Joshua Leeser is senior branch manager of the office, which employs six loan officers and one loan processor in training. Leeser, who has worked in the mortgage lending industry for about 15 years, previously was an area sales manager at Charter One Bank.
Stonegate Mortgage specializes in mortgage loans with a home-improvement component, as well as traditional home loans, including Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA) and conventional loans.
Beginning in March, the office will be located on the first floor of the building just south of Spaghetti Warehouse. The address will be 520 S. Main St., Suite 2501.
Allstate watches assets
Allstate Corp. Chief Executive Officer Thomas Wilson reiterated his plan to invest in hard assets such as toll roads and hotels as the company scales back on bonds with longer-term maturities amid near record-low interest rates.
“We think investing in long bonds today is just not worth the risk,” said Wilson, who leads the largest publicly traded U.S. auto and home insurer that has Summit County operations. He was interviewed on Bloomberg Television.
Insurer has forecast
Richfield-based specialty insurer National Interstate Corp. is warning that it anticipates net income for fiscal 2012 will be 2 to 5 percent below 2011 levels.
Net income was hurt by higher claims costs in the fourth quarter, National Interstate said.
The company expects net income for 2012 will be between $1.72 and $1.78 per share compared with $1.82 per share in 2011. Fourth-quarter net income will be between 39 cents and 45 cents per share compared with 63 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Gross premiums written for the year and fourth quarter will be above 2011 levels, the company said.
The company will make a presentation at an investor conference Wednesday and discuss 2012 fourth-quarter and full-year results Feb. 27.
New caffeine drink
If you don’t like coffee or tea, Mountain Dew has a new breakfast drink that might perk you up. PepsiCo Inc. is rolling out a new drink called Kickstart this month that has Mountain Dew flavor but is made with 5 percent juice and Vitamins B and C, along with an extra jolt of caffeine.
The company is hoping to boost sales by reaching Mountain Dew fans at a new time of day: morning. PepsiCo said it doesn’t consider Kickstart to be an energy drink, noting that it still has far less caffeine than drinks like Monster and Red Bull and none of the mysterious ingredients that have raised concerns among lawmakers and consumer advocates.
No fracking in Germany
Germany’s environment minister says he doesn’t expect the extraction of natural gas by “fracking” will start any time soon in Europe’s biggest economy.
Shale gas is located underground across Europe, but environmental concerns over extracting it are widespread. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” frees natural gas from shale by injecting a well with chemically treated water and sand. Supporters say it can be an economic boon, but critics say it can pollute groundwater.
Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said Germany’s government is working to ensure the practice is subject to limits and he wouldn’t advise anyone to seek drilling licenses soon.
Altmaier said he “can’t see fracking being used anywhere in Germany in the foreseeable future.”
SBA head departs
Karen Mills, the head of the federal government’s Small Business Administration as it focused on recovery from the Great Recession, is stepping down. The SBA brought more than 1,000 community banks to its lending programs and it won a commitment from 13 big banks to increase their lending to small businesses over three years. The agency also regained its status as a Cabinet-level agency — something lost during the Bush administration.
In 2008, before the financial crisis, the SBA guaranteed $12.7 billion of its most common loans, 7(a) loans. That amount plunged in 2009 to $9.2 billion, and in the year ended last Sept. 30, had recovered to $15.1 billion. The 7(a) loan program includes money for starting a business or operating or expanding an existing company.
Compiled from staff and wire reports