The directors of auto insurer First Acceptance last week voted to give CEO Joe Borbely and CFO Brent Gay raises of 33 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Borbely, who took over as CEO last fall, will now be paid $400,000. He, Gay and Senior Vice President Daniel Walker also have been awarded a collective $526,000 in bonuses for their 2014 work, which was headlined by a $20 million tax benefit. Check out the full set of numbers here.
First Acceptance posted an operating profit of nearly $3.1 million in the fourth quarter, down slightly from the last three months of 2013. (Net income was helped big time by a $20 million tax benefit thanks to 10 consecutive quarters in the black.) Total premiums rose nicely to $56.3 million from $48.7 million but losses also rose substantially, with the loss ratio climbing to 74.5 percent from 70 percent. The company made that up on the expense side, though, and CEO Joe Borbely says his team early this year began writing policies in Virginia, First Acceptance's 13th state.
Cool Springs-based Carlisle Transportation Products, which makes industrial belts, tires and wheels, has changed its name to The Carlstar Group. The company, which is owned by private-equity firm American Industrial Partners, employs 4,000 people at seven manufacturing facilities and 10 distribution centers in the United States, Canada, Europe and China.
Financial sector-focused hedge fund Second Curve Capital still thinks local nonstandard auto insurer First Acceptance has lots of potential. Second Curve managers filed papers this week saying they now own more than 3.2 million shares of First Acceptance, which equates to 7.9 percent. That's up from 5.3 percent 10 months ago. The move is something of a doubling down: Since last spring: First Acceptance (Ticker: FAC) has fallen about 10 percent.
Executives at Nissan have declined a State Department offer to mediate a dispute between the automaker and the United Auto Workers and IndustriALL Global Union, which contend the company is violating international labor laws at its Canton, Mississippi, complex. Company officials say they are focused on complying with U.S. labor laws and the structures organized by the National Labor Relations Board.
The State Department wrote that it "determined that the issues raised by UAW/IndustriALL are material and substantiated and merit further examination," but also said that if Nissan had chosen to mediate, that shouldn't be taken as an admission of guilt.
Middle Tennessee's automotive ecosystem could grow in coming years with the help of one of Sweden's biggest brands. The Financial Times is reporting that Volvo executives have had preliminary talks with Kentucky ECD officials — as well as their counterparts in a number of other states — about building a manufacturing plant there. Megasites near Hopkinsville, just north of Clarksville, and Elizabethtown are in the mix but it's early days yet — to the point that a state spokesman wouldn't even confirm that talks have taken place with Volvo, which is now owned by a Chinese holding company.
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