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Business in brief: Unemployment rises slightly

Spokane’s unemployment rate crept up to 4.6 percent in November from 4.1 percent the previous month. It’s still better than the 5.1 percent reported this time last year, according to figures released Tuesday by the Washington state Employment Security Department.

Meanwhile, Washington state’s unemployment rate was 5 percent, an improvement compared to 5.4 percent last year but up a bit from October’s 4.8 percent. Nationally, unemployment ticked up to 4.5 percent, a tiny increase over October’s 5-year-low of 4.4 percent and better than last year’s 5 percent.

Las Vegas

Harrah’s board OKs buyout

Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., the world’s largest casino company, said Tuesday that its board has accepted a $17.1 billion buyout offer from two private equity groups.

The board approved a $90-per-share buyout offer from Apollo Management Group and Texas Pacific Group and recommended shareholder approval even as the company reserved the right to pursue higher bids for about a month.

The buyers are also assuming $10.7 billion in debt in the deal.

Los Angeles

American Apparel sale announced

The mostly foreign-born workers at American Apparel’s garment factory in Los Angeles, the nation’s largest, have enjoyed benefits that would make austere executives grab their wallets: A health plan. Free English classes. Back rubs from a masseuse and stretching breaks.

But with Tuesday’s announced sale of the T-shirt maker to a publicly traded company came news not of slashes to staff and perks, but of yet another novel benefit: A piece of the company would be offered to American Apparel’s some 5,000 employees.

Endeavor Acquisition Corp., which said it had reached a $244 million deal to acquire privately held American Apparel Inc. and trade it on the stock market, plans to reserve about 2.7 million shares of their stock for employees, according to a company press release. The company also plans to distribute $2.5 million in bonuses.


Canadian firm to buy Steamboat

Canadian resort operator Intrawest Corp. moved Tuesday to add to its stable of North American ski areas, agreeing to buy Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. from American Skiing Co. for $265 million in cash.

The acquisition, subject to regulatory approval because of antitrust issues, would increase Intrawest’s Colorado holdings to three and overall resorts to 11 while helping American Skiing’s bottom line.

In addition, it fits Intrawest’s plan to expand through acquisitions, which was renewed after the company was acquired earlier this fall by New York private equity firm Fortress Investment Group LLC in a $2.76 billion in a cash-and-debt deal.

The deal is expected to close by March.


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