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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Apr. 1, 2005 16 years ago

Coffee Talk (Tampa)

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PIE in the sky: It's not easy being Noah Lagos.Analyst: BB&T not for sale: BB&T Corp. is bringing its annual meeting to St. Petersburg. Will the North Carolina bank be booking the honeymoon suite at the Vinoy?One hot ticket: Don't wait too long or you just might not be able to buy a ticket to the annual George E. Edgecomb Bar Association's 22nd annual scholarship banquet. Last year, Tampa's association for black lawyers filled every seat in the large conference room at Tampa's Hyatt Hotel.Walbolt re-elected chair: For the seventh consecutive year, the shareholders at Carlton Fields PA have elected Sylvia Walbolt as chair of the firm's board of directors.
by: Adam Hughes Staff Writer

Coffee Talk (Tampa)

PIE in the sky

It's not easy being Noah Lagos.

The St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport director is losing airlines faster than Donald Trump sheds apprentices.

Yet Lagos bravely showed up March 29 to address the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, whose members enjoy a good joke. The club hosted Lagos at the Feather Sound Country Club. The upscale golf community constantly beefs about plane noise from the nearby airport.

University of South Florida St. Petersburg political scientist Darryl Paulson, who does a little standup in his spare time, handled the introduction of Lagos.

With the permanent departures of ATA, Southeast and Jetsgo, Paulson cracked that such an airline exodus was one way to reduce noise complaints. A more somber Lagos later noted that the troubled trio had carried about three-quarters of the airport's commercial passengers.

With a name like Noah, Paulson suggested Lagos consider a new line of work – running a cruise line.

Ba-doom-bah!

After pulling the arrows out of his back, Lagos calmly acknowledged that it will take time for the airport with the symbol PIE to regain momentum.

Airlines, both legacy and discount, are struggling with high fuel costs and overcapacity. Most of the commercial carriers are not looking for new destinations. But someday they will again.

When they do, Lagos says his airport's cheaper landing fees will be preferable to those of other regional airports in Tampa and Sarasota. (Lagos used to work at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport.)

Lagos dashed the wishful thinking of Feather Sounders who suggested Pinellas County close the airport and sell the land for development. The federal government, which has plied the county with aviation grants for PIE, won't permit that, according to Lagos.

Analyst: BB&T not for sale

BB&T Corp. is bringing its annual meeting to St. Petersburg. Will the North Carolina bank be booking the honeymoon suite at the Vinoy?

Ryan Beck & Co. analyst Anthony R. Davis doubts BB&T is hooking up with another bank in the near future.

"Despite recent rumors, we do not think BB&T is vulnerable to being acquired," writes Davis in a recent research report. "To the contrary, we expect the company to resume bank acquisitions of its own in 2006."

The Winston-Salem banking company, the nation's 11th biggest, is still digesting Republic Bank and other recent deals. BB&T is inviting stockholders to Republic's old hometown for the April 26 meeting at the downtown Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club.

Davis believes BB&T managers when they say they've sweared off new bank acquisitions until next year. But that doesn't open the door for giants such as San Francisco's Wells Fargo & Co. to swoop in and buy BB&T, according to Davis.

The bank analyst cites two reasons. BB&T, at $100 billion in assets, is too big for Wells Fargo's taste. BB&T chief executive John Allison isn't interested.

Instead, Allison wants to open new branches this year in markets that include the Tampa Bay area while mulling over his next merger targets.

Davis identified three banks as ripest for a BB&T takeover. Two have a presence in the Bay area: The South Financial Group in Greenville, S.C., which flies the Mercantile Bank flag in Florida, and the Royal Bank of Canada's troubled Centura unit in Rocky Mount, N.C.

One hot ticket

Don't wait too long or you just might not be able to buy a ticket to the annual George E. Edgecomb Bar Association's 22nd annual scholarship banquet. Last year, Tampa's association for black lawyers filled every seat in the large conference room at Tampa's Hyatt Hotel.

The group expects the same type of turnout for the April 25 event at the downtown venue, says GrayRobinson PA attorney Clinton Paris, the group's 2004-05 president. It's a must-attend event that attracts some of Tampa's most prominent lawyers, politicians and community leaders.

This year the group invited as guest speaker Walter Fauntroy, the retired 10-term congressman from District of Columbia. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. first appointed Fauntroy to public service in 1961 as director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Washington bureau.

Each year, the group also bestows the Francisco Rodriguez award to a deserving community leader for his contributions. This year the group picked the Rev. Abe Brown, founder of Abe Brown Ministries Inc., to receive the honor. It also will announce scholarship awards to local students.

Tickets and table sponsorships are available by calling Carlton Fields PA attorney Kamilah Perry at (813) 229-4324 or Tampa solo practitioner Kemi Oguntebi at (813) 254-8717.

Walbolt re-elected chair

For the seventh consecutive year, the shareholders at Carlton Fields PA have elected Sylvia Walbolt as chair of the firm's board of directors. She heads its appellate practice and trial support group.

The firm also re-elected the following shareholders as officers: Tom Snow, president; Hywel Leonard, treasurer; Ruth Barnes Kinsolving, secretary; Richard Denmon, assistant secretary; and Roger Schwenke, assistant secretary.

Tampa Bay area shareholders elected to the board include David Punzak, Mark A. Brown, Chris Coutroulis, Denmon, Kinsolving, Ed Lester Jr., Luis Prats, Gary Sasso, Snow and Walbolt.

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