The Daily Dirt: The not-so merry land of OZK

TRD New York /
Aug.August 02, 2019 11:00 AM

Lions, tigers and a bear market? Why trouble may be ahead for Bank OZK.

On Thursday, Zacks Equity Research dubbed the bank’s stock a “bear of the day.” (Oh my!) The reason? There are a few: For one, analysts over the past month have forecasted lackluster earnings for the bank over the next few years. And the Federal Reserve’s decision on Wednesday to cut interest rates could also put more pressure on the bank’s earnings since net interest margin (revenue the bank is pocketing from interest) is expected to decline as a result.  

Reporters David Jeans and Keith Larsen took a closer look at the man behind the curtain (sorry, last Oz reference, I promise), OZK CEO George Gleason, and some of the controversy that’s quietly surrounded the bank. Their story unearthed untold drama stemming from the departure of the bank’s chief lending officer, Dan Thomas, in 2017. According to Thomas, he was pushed out of the company by Gleason, who threatened to withhold $5 million in accrued compensation if he didn’t step back from his role. The bank denies this, maintaining that Thomas resigned of his own accord. 

Current and former executives are also facing allegations of sexual misconduct and age discrimination, according to an ongoing lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The story also details how, after facing increased scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission over its accounting methods and underwriting process, the bank lobbied for a legislative change that ultimately allowed it to escape SEC oversight. 

Bank OZK has built up its national profile, in part, by being one of the most aggressive lenders in the luxury condo construction space. With a possible downturn on the horizon, the bank’s long-term strategy will be put to the test. 

What we’re thinking about next: Who will buy WeWork’s 88 University Place? Will they pay $110 million? Send a note to [email protected].

CLOSING TIME
Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded on Thursday was for a condo unit at 553 West 30th Street in Hudson Yards, at $4.9 million.
Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for two commercial condos at 43 West 64th Street in Lincoln Square, at $14.5 million. 

BREAKING GROUND
The largest new building filing of the day was for a 15,740-square-foot residential building at 208 East Mosholu Parkway South in Bedford Park. Besart Xhekaj filed the permit application. 

NEW TO THE MARKET
The most expensive residential listing to hit the market was for a condo unit at 155 West 11th Street in the West Village, at $19.8 million. The Corcoran Group’s Carrie Chiang has the listing.
— Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…

A herd of 75 buffalo has been on the lam for more than a week. The herd broke loose from a farm in upstate New York last week and have since broken into several smaller groups. “They are mysterious,” State Police Trooper Aga Dembinska explained to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. 

There isn’t really a real estate connection here, but I also feel confident that an excuse isn’t needed to bring runaway buffalo-related news into your life. Thank you to Georgia Kromrei, who spotted this news.

Top stories from our other markets:

NATIONAL
Colony Capital reportedly partnered up with a sovereign wealth fund from Saudi Arabia as it sought to invest in digital infrastructure after the 2016 presidential election. The investment firm’s founder and CEO, Thomas Barrack, is a longtime friend and supporter of President Donald Trump, having served on his transition team, as well as an advocate of strengthening relations between the kingdom and the U.S.

CHICAGO
Related Midwest listed the three penthouses at the top of One Bennett Park Thursday, with eye popping asking prices of $14.3 million to $16.8 million — for the raw space. The three full-floor units crown Related’s luxury combination apartment/condo complex at 451 East Grand Avenue in Streeterville. They check in at $14.3 million for the unit on the 66th-floor, $15.2 million for the unit on the 65th floor and $16.8 million for the 64th-floor apartment, according to Crain’s.

LOS ANGELES
Scott Gillen has spent the past few years developing uber-luxury homes in Malibu, most of them on spec. Now, Gillen is putting 13 of those properties together, listing them as a single collection, dubbed “The Malibu Series.” Asking price for the lot? Half a billion dollars. Or, an average of around $38 million per home. The portfolio includes his crown jewel, the New Castle, a spec mansion that hit the market back in 2015 for $60 million.

MIAMI
New York developer Michael Shvo has secured a zoning change to build a 200-foot-tall tower in South Beach, and now others can get in on the action. On Wednesday, the Miami Beach City Commission unanimously approved an ordinance that will allow ground floor additions up to 200 feet tall for properties more than 115,000 square feet in size that are located between 16th and 21st streets along Collins Avenue in the Architectural Historic District, an area often referred to as the Art Deco district. — Compiled by Alexi Friedman

 

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