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First Horizon “needs to do a deal”

If a tree falls in the forest but no one hears it, of course we know it made a sound.

Can the same be said when a group of investors and analysts gathered for a bank industry conference talk among themselves about how a certain Memphis banking company needs to hurry up and put its capital to work to land an acquisition deal, even when that bank isn’t presenting anything at the conference?

We’ll see. For now, it’s worth noting that Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. (the parent of First Tennessee Bank) was not one of the presenting companies at the Gulf South Bank Conference last month at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans, where attendees feasted for three days on oyster, booze, bank industry insight – and rumor.

Nevertheless, one of the phrases uttered repeatedly during the conference by investors and analysts had to do with First Horizon. It was said that “Bryan needs to do a deal,” a reference to First Horizon president and CEO Bryan Jordan.

(Consider, for what it’s worth, that it was generally an unsolicited comment).

The scuttlebutt from bank sources – and those at the conference – is that the market has been waiting for First Horizon to put its war chest of capital to work and snatch up a competitor. Jordan has frequently said publicly that when the right deal presents itself, he’ll pull the trigger.

Attendees at the New Orleans conference, though, said pursuing a deal is going to get harder the longer Jordan waits. Over the last three months, the company’s stock price has dropped about 10 percent, and some industry insiders and analysts have concerns about First Horizon that include a perceived mortgage repurchase risk.

If buying isn’t an option, the conference attendees said Jordan could always consider a sale of the company. Names bandied about included PNC Financial, BB&T and SunTrust Banks Inc.

Kind of reminds me of an old saying: if you don’t have a seat at the table, chances are you could be on the menu.

Wanted: A Few Good Hosts

Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau is seeking a few good hosts to show and tell folks what’s great about their hometown.

If selected, the bureau will provide hosts with a free Flip camera and tickets to a local attraction in exchange for making a video bragging on the best of the Bluff City.

Visit the I Love Memphis Blog for more information.

Cohen Urges County Commission to Reconsider Vote

Memphis congressman Steve Cohen has written a letter to the Shelby County Commission in hopes it will reverse an 8-3 vote to defund the county’s Office of Early Childhood and Youth:

“As you continue to consider the FY2012 Shelby County budget in your role as a member of the County Commission, I hope that you will take the time to re-visit the vote you cast this Monday to de-fund the Shelby County Office of Early Childhood and Youth (OECY).

As a former County Commissioner, I understand that oftentimes the proposals laid before you for consideration may not include details about the possible ramifications that could result upon their implementation. Normally, I do not get involved in County Commission business, but the vote that was cast on Monday to de-fund the OECY is one that, should it be implemented, would result in our county losing out on access to millions of federal dollars. By stripping the $450,000 in funding for the OECY, the county will lose approximately $6 million in federal funds for programs that help the neediest among our constituents.

The OECY’s focus on our community’s children is one that is unparalleled. Its child impact study program is the first—and only—one of its kind in the nation. The OECY’s encouragement of community partnerships is a factor that helps private and non-profit organizations across the county apply for grants from the state and federal governments.

To de-fund an initiative that has made such great strides in the few years it has existed would be a grave mistake for the Commission. By not allowing the OECY to achieve its full potential and continue to operate, we will not only lose out on the millions of federal dollars that the county is currently slated to receive, but we will never be able to realize the impact that such an initiative would have on our community’s children and families years from now.

It is my understanding that you will have the opportunity to consider this measure again on June 20th. If you have any questions about the information contained above or the federal funds that the OECY is scheduled to receive should it remain operational, I hope that you will feel free to contact me. I am hopeful that you will sincerely consider the information that I have shared with you about the importance of the Office of Early Childhood and Youth and vote to maintain funding for it when you are again given the opportunity.”

Court Square Series Wraps up With Acrobats, Bellydancers

The Center City Commission, which July 1 will officially change its name to the Downtown Memphis Development Commission, wraps up its Downtown Alive series for the season this month with an eclectic mix of street performances.

The festivities, which run through the end of June, celebrate the Bluff City’s creative spirit with free lunchtime performances in the heart of Downtown Memphis.

On Tuesday, June 14, Memphians are invited to a live, lunchtime aerial acrobatics performance in Court Square as Live from Memphis presents Valeria’s Wings, performing acrobatic feats alongside wind sculptures from local artist Yvonne Bobo.

And on Wednesday, June 15, the Church Health Center will take over Court Square at lunchtime with a family-fun event featuring children’s music, summer games and prizes.

Thursday’s fun includes a cuff bracelet workshop with staff members from the National Ornamental Metal Museum and a pirate-themed belly dance performance from Desert Rose Dance Company.

The fun kicks off each weekday at 11:45, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunch and lawn chairs.

Dawn Vinson with the CCC said there’s a “very strong possibility” that the Downtown Alive series, which began in March, may start up again in the fall.

Click here for the schedule.

Former Memphian Casts Rising Broadway Stars in Web Musical

In February, I blogged about “Perks,” an innovative musical web series created by former Memphian Tom Diggs.

Diggs, a 1979 White Station High School alumnus and Pulitzer-nominated playwright, described “Perks,” which centers around technophile teenage gamers in love, as “Glee meets Wii.”

Diggs had taken to raising money through Kickstarter.com to produce his labor of love, and it literally paid off; “Perks” will begin airing June 19 on Blip.tv and YouTube.com.

The cast includes rising young Broadway stars Alex Wyse (“Bored to Death”), Alex Brightman (“Wicked”), Allison Strong (“Mama Mia”) and Paul Cereghino (“Tony and Tina’s Wedding”), as well as comedian and “Chelsea Lately” roundtable regular Arden Myrin.

“We’re thrilled to have a cast of such fast-rising Broadway stars,” Diggs said. “It’s exciting to bring the sensibilities of the Broadway musical to the frontier of web shows.”

The series is directed by award-winning AFI film director Bill Oliver and shot by David Kagen of “True Blood,” “CSI:NY” and “The Green Hornet.”

Click here to watch the “Perks” trailer, and here for behind-the-scenes footage, blog posts and more.

Dansette

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