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IHFC sale could close by end of April, Bassett says

A third investor has joined the deal, according to reports

Bassett Furniture Inds. now says it expects the sale of the International Home Furnishings Center to close on or before April 29, and a third financial player may be involved in the deal, according to reports.

In its first-quarter earnings report issued Tuesday, Bassett President and CEO Rob Spilman Jr. said the pending sale of the IHFC - in which Bassett owns about a 46% stake - "is part of a complex deal that involves several other properties, ownerships and potential buyers."

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that according to its unnamed sources, Oaktree Capital Management, a Los Angeles-based investment firm, is a participant in the pending deal along with investment firms The Related Cos. and Bain Capital, whose probable involvement had been reported earlier.

The deal is expected to place the IHFC and the two other largest High Point showroom properties - Market Square and related buildings and the Showplace holdings - under joint ownership of an entity that also would own the World Market Center in Las Vegas.

While none of the parties have publicly confirmed that they are backers of the deal, the Journal story said that Related formed the group of investors to control about 11 buildings and 6.5 million square feet of showroom space in High Point, in addition to its holdings in Las Vegas.

It added that the deal is expected to be worth about $1 billion when completed, and that about $400 million in debt will be eliminated as part of deals to take over the properties.

Two buildings on the World Market Center campus and Showplace are currently in receivership. Merchandise Mart Properties was recently sold to company called High Point Acquisition Co. for $139.5 million.

A transition team was named for the former MMPI properties, led by Randy Eller, chief transition officer, and Steve Johnson, vice president of administration/assistant general manager.

Earlier this week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the receiver for the World Market Center's Building B had also been named receiver for Building A. The newspaper said San Diego-based Douglas Wilson Cos. is overseeing both buildings, which are in default on their mortgages.

Building A, the first building constructed to house the Las Vegas Market, has an outstanding loan of $225 million while the second building has a mortgage of $345 million.

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