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In Brief: Memphis firm seals deal for Hite Crane and Rigging

Barnhart Crane & Rigging has acquired longtime Spokane company Hite Crane and Rigging.

Terms of the deal were not announced.

The deal gives Barnhart, based in Memphis, its first operations in the area. Until now its nearest offices were in the Tri-Cities.

Hite has provided rigging and heavy transportation services in the region going back to 1969.

All of Hite’s employees are being retained as Barnhart takes over the company’s Spokane Valley location, said Chris Teague, director of marketing for Barnhart. None of the original Hite family members were in the company when the deal closed, Teague said..

The deal will expand the range of services from what Hite previously provided, said Alan Barnhart, CEO of Barnhart.

Jewelry auction hauls record $141.5 million

GENEVA – Sotheby’s says its spring auction has sold a world record $141.5 million in jewelry.

The auction house says seven records were set at the Geneva auction, including the highest amount ever paid for a yellow diamond – $16.3 million for the 100.09-carat “Graff Vivid Yellow” diamond ring.

It said today that the auction, featuring two diamonds over 100 carats, drew buyers from more than 30 countries.

The second huge diamond, at 103.46 carats, is part of a Graff diamond ring that sold for $4.9 million.

IRS backs off tax preparer rules

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service will not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate regulations it sought to impose on hundreds of thousands of paid tax preparers.

The rules would have required many tax preparers to take continuing education courses and pass a competency exam. A federal judge and an appellate court in Washington tossed the rules out. The judges said the IRS was overstepping its authority by trying to impose the rules without congressional authorization.

Several independent tax preparers challenged the new regulations in a 2012 lawsuit, represented by the Arlington, Virginia-based Institute for Justice, which opposes what it sees as onerous licensing schemes in a variety of professions.

Sallie Mae agrees to $60 million settlement

WASHINGTON – Student lender Sallie Mae has reached a $60 million settlement with the Justice Department to resolve allegations that it charged members of the military excessive interest rates on their student loans, the federal government announced Tuesday.

The deal settles a government lawsuit that asserted the student loan giant violated the rights of service members by imposing interest rates above the 6 percent permitted by federal law and by improperly seeking default judgments against them. Separately, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. also announced a $30 million settlement arising from allegations that the company maximized consumer late fees.

Arena football players union joins AFL-CIO

WASHINGTON – The Arena Football League Players Union is affiliating with the AFL-CIO. The labor union is announcing that the link-up follows a unanimous vote by the league’s Board of Player Representatives.

AFLPU President Ivan Soto said the partnership will level the playing field for players as the league continues to grow.

The AFL-CIO website says it is currently made up of 56 unions representing 12.5 million workers. The Arena Football League includes the Spokane Shock team.