Business digest: Neiman Marcus to be sold for $6 billion

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Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 12:00 am

Neiman Marcus Inc., the Dallas-based luxury chain, agreed to sell itself to Ares Management LLC and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for $6 billion.

Ares and the pension fund will hold an equal economic interest in Neiman, and the chain's management will retain a minority stake, the buyers said in a statement Monday. The deal probably ends prospects for a Neiman initial public offering.

Neiman's private-equity owners TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus LLC paid about $5.1 billion for the Dallas-based retailer in 2005. Neiman's sales haven't returned to the level seen before the 2008 financial crisis as luxury shoppers have been slow to return to stores.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking to limit taxpayers losses tied to forfeited sugar loans, Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday.

Vilsack did not commit to a second round of sugar-for-ethanol sales. USDA sold 7,118 short tons of beet sugar to an ethanol producer at a loss of $2.7 million last month after receiving only one bid as part of a program to reduce a domestic surplus of the sweetener.

USDA may face $300 million in sugar defaults at the end of September, according to department data.

Microsoft is making its Xbox Music streaming service available for free on the Web — even to those who don't use Windows 8.

The expansion beyond Windows 8 devices and Xbox game consoles, which started Monday, is intended to bring new customers into the software giant's ecosystem of devices and services and could help it compete with other digital music offerings like Pandora, Spotify and iTunes. It's also an acknowledgment that the music service hasn't done much to drive sales of the Windows 8 operating system.

Toyota is recalling about 780,000 vehicles for a second time after its first effort to prevent a handling problem did not work, according to a report posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website.

The recall covers about 18,000 2010 Lexus HS 250h autos, a hybrid model, and the 2006 through 2011 Toyota RAV4 sport-utility vehicle. The agency said the failure of a rear tie rod on the suspension could “cause a loss of vehicle control.”

It is unusual for an automaker to issue what amounts to a recall of a recall, particularly involving so many vehicles. Toyota, once seen as a benchmark in quality and reliability, has seen that image undermined in recent years.

The vehicles were first recalled in August 2012 after an investigation the agency began in response to consumer complaints. But now the automaker says it will recall the vehicles again and try a different repair after learning from dealers that some vehicles still had problems, according to a letter Toyota sent dealers and was then posted on the safety agency website.

A similar letter was sent to Lexus dealers. – The New York Times

Billionaire Carl Icahn has given up his fight to control Dell Inc., saying he continues to oppose founder Michael Dell's $24.9 billion plan to take the company private because it undervalues the computer maker.

Dell and partner Silver Lake Management LLC sweetened their takeover proposal last month, offering a dividend of 13 cents a share on top of an already increased $13.75-a-share bid for the computer maker. The price is still 70 percent below the stock's 10-year high of $42.38, Icahn said in a filing Monday.

“I realize that some stockholders will be disappointed that we do not fight on,” Icahn said. “While we of course are saddened at our losing the battle to control Dell, it certainly makes the loss a lot more tolerable in that as a result of our involvement, Michael Dell/Silver Lake increased what they said was their 'best and final offer.'”

While Icahn said he was still against the proposal and would seek appraisal rights, his surrender removes a major obstacle to the takeover bid. Dell, who serves as chairman and chief executive officer, is pushing to take the PC maker private so he can execute a turnaround plan outside the public markets.

Shareholders will convene Thursday at Dell's Round Rock, Texas, headquarters to vote on the buyout. It's the fourth such scheduled meeting — the previous three were postponed.

“It's going to make the shareholder meeting a lot easier,” Shannon Cross, an analyst at Cross Research, said of Icahn's decision. “Now we're going to have to just sit back and see whether Michael Dell succeeds with the company.” – Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans cut back on using their credit cards in July for the second straight month, while taking on more debt to buy cars and attend school.

The Federal Reserve said Monday that consumers increased their borrowing $10.4 billion in July from June to a record of $2.85 trillion. That followed an $11.9 billion gain in June.

A measure of borrowing that includes credit card debt fell $1.8 billion in July following a $3.7 billion decline in June. A category including auto loans and student loans increased $12.3 billion after a $15.6 billion gain in June.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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