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IHFC to Be Sold for $275 Million

HIGH POINT, N.C. - The International Home Furnishings Center will be sold to a group that appears to include investment firms The Related Cos. and Bain Capital and possibly another entity for $275 million, a purchase agreement filed last week by IHFC shareholder Bassett Furniture Inds. indicates.
     While the agreement identifies the potential buyer only as "IHFC Acquisition Company LLC," it also says that Related and Bain and "the purchaser" were parties to a confidentiality agreement signed in October.
     Officials with Related, Bain and Bassett could not be contacted immediately.
     The agreement appears to be the first part of a rumored purchase of three large showroom properties in High Point - the IHFC and buildings owned by Merchandise Mart Properties and Showplace.
     Pretax proceeds to Bassett, a part-owner of the IHFC, would be in the range of $73 million to $75 million when the deal closes, according to a filing today with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The closing is expected on or before April 29.
     The purchase price would include the assumption of any IHFC debt, including the outstanding mortgage on the building, the filing indicates. Bassett's latest 10K fi ling indicated that the IHFC had long-term debt of about $101.5 million as of Oct. 31.
     Bassett owns about a 47% stake in the IHFC. Lincoln National Corp. holds a 29% stake and the R.B. Terry Charitable Foundation, set up by the late High Point Enterprise publisher Randall Terry, owns about 24%.
      Another owner, Joseph P. Rawley, holds 1,000 shares in the IHFC, out of the 481,628 shares outstanding, that will be sold to the purchaser under a separate agreement on or before the closing date, according to the Bassett filing.
     The Related Cos. has been a participant in the financing of the World Market Center, home of the Las Vegas Market. The purchase agreement filing doesn't identify the WMC as a party in the IHFC purchase, although it has been rumored that the deal would place the Las Vegas and key High Point buildings under common ownership.
     But the agreement does include a provision that Bassett, which has not been an exhibitor at the Las Vegas Market, will enter into a five-year lease at the WMC.

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