Business in brief: Home sales down last month

Home sales in Spokane County last month fell 10 percent compared with September 2008 levels, and the pace so far in 2009 remains slow, according to the Spokane Association of Realtors.

A total 440 homes sold, 50 of them new, compared with 467 total with 78 new a year ago.

The average price fell 11 percent from $201,274 to $179,636; the median price fell 8.5 percent from $174,900 to $160,000.

So far this year, closed sales are down 16 percent to 3,324. The average price is down 7 percent; the median price is down 7.2 percent.

Inventory declined slightly from August, to 3,417 from 3,466, but was above the 3,386 of a year ago.

New home sales have fallen 35 percent, to 405, compared with 2008.

Bert Caldwell

Coeur to reopen Nevada mine

Coeur d’Alene Mines plans to restart mining operations at its Rochester Mine in Nevada, which closed two years ago.

If all goes according to plan, the company could resume gold and silver mining at the open pit mine by 2011, said Tony Ebersole, Coeur’s spokesman. A six-year mine plan calls for annual silver production of about 2.9 million ounces and annual gold production of 30,000 ounces.

“This could bring a couple hundred new jobs to that area,” Ebersole said.

Since the Rochester Mine closed, the company has been recovering residual silver and gold from the leach pads, where the metals were removed from the crushed rock. That operation is expected to continue through 2014.

Becky Kramer

Anheuser-Busch selling SeaWorld

Shamu, meet your new parents. Anheuser-Busch InBev said Wednesday it will sell its 10 theme parks across the country, including the three SeaWorlds and two Busch Gardens, to private equity firm Blackstone Group for at least $2.3 billion.

The world’s largest brewer, based in Belgium, has been shedding assets to help pay for the $52 billion takeover of St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch that formed the company last year.

The two sides confirmed the deal Wednesday, saying Blackstone will pay $2.3 billion in cash for Busch Entertainment Corp. and give Anheuser-Busch InBev the right to up to $400 million of Blackstone’s initial returns.

New York-based Blackstone’s other investments include Universal Studios Orlando and Madame Tussauds wax museums so the theme parks fit into its portfolio.

Blackstone probably will try to get visitors to spend more at the parks by starting to charge money for extras like taking pictures with characters, said David Miller, an analyst with Caris & Co.

Associated Press

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