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Red Lion refinances Bellevue hotel loan

Wed., Oct. 15, 2008, midnight

Red Lion Hotels Corp. has refinanced its Bellevue property with a $14 million loan from Wells Fargo Bank.

President Anapam Narayan said the money will be used to pay off an $8.2 million loan carrying an interest rate of 9 percent, and for other corporate purposes. The new interest rate will be considerably lower, he said.

Red Lion purchased the 181-room hotel in 2004 but had leased the building since 1997, Narayan said.

Pre-payment of the loan was attractive because there was no penalty, as there is on borrowings against other properties, he said. Red Lion operates 50 hotels, some franchised.

Red Lion shares, and those of the hospitality industry in general, have suffered because of the economic slowdown and a downturn in travel.

Shares closed Thursday at $4.06, a new 52-week low.


Portland truck plant closing

Daimler AG said Tuesday that its North American truck division will drop its Sterling brand and end production at plants in Oregon and Ontario by mid-2010 as it moves to deal with depressed demand.

Daimler Trucks North America will discontinue the Sterling Trucks brand in March, the Stuttgart-based parent company said in a statement.

Daimler said truck manufacturing at its St. Thomas, Ontario, plant will end in March 2009, and it will close its Portland truck plant in June 2010, when labor contracts there expire.

Daimler said about 2,300 workers at St. Thomas and Portland will be affected. That includes previously announced layoffs of some 720 workers at the Canadian plant, whose jobs will go next month.


IRS mailing stimulus checks

Overdue economic stimulus checks will soon be mailed to about a quarter of a million married couples who had been denied the money because of an IRS glitch.

When a couple marries and a spouse – usually the woman – changes names, the couple is supposed to alert the Social Security Administration.

But tens of thousands didn’t and were unaware of the consequences until this year, when they didn’t cash in on the rebate package enacted in February.

The IRS told the Associated Press last month that stimulus checks would go only to those whose names and Social Security numbers matched.

But last week, the IRS changed course and said on its Web site that it regretted the inconvenience.


Fitch bearish on housing

New home construction and sales will fall further next year as homebuilders continue to face tough market conditions for at least another year, concludes Fitch Ratings in a report released Tuesday.

Next year, there is a 60 percent chance that total new home construction will fall by almost 13 percent from projected 2008 levels, new home sales by 7 percent and existing home sales by 3 percent, the credit ratings firm said in a 173-page report.

If the U.S. should enter a sharp recession, however, Fitch said the combination of home price declines, job losses and weaker consumer confidence will likely result in lower housing starts, weaker new and existing home sales.

Fitch expects homebuilders will close 2008 with revenues down by 34 percent to 40 percent, on average.

From staff and wire reports


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