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Lifetime Brands completes acquisition of Mexican firm

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Housewares giant Lifetime Brands, maker and marketer of products under names including KitchenAid and Cuisinart, has completed the acquisition of a 30 percent stake in Ekco, a Mexican manufacturer of housewares under names including Thermos and Presto.

Lifetime Brands paid $21.9 million for the stake. Under the agreement, Lifetime Brands would be able to acquire 100 percent ownership of Ekco or, conversely, to require Ekco to repurchase its stake.

Ekco plans to apply proceeds from the sale toward financing its earlier acquisition of Industria Mexicana del Aluminio, an aluminum smelter. The agreement also allows Lifetime to appoint four new members to Ekco’s 11-person board of directors.

Lifetime Brands, based in Garden City, N.Y., is one of the country’s largest housewares companies, with additional brands including Farberware, Pfaltzgraff, Calvin Klein, Block, CasaModa and Towle.

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Ohio-based builder takes further land charges

BY HBSDEALER Staff

M/I Homes, a Columbus, Ohio-based home builder with operations in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic region and Florida, said it will take an $82 million hit in the fourth quarter on land impairment charges.

The home builder took charges on the sale of 3,700 lots, approximately 22 percent of its total lots owned at the end of the quarter. The builder also sold all its lots in West Palm Beach, Fla., saying it will exit that market entirely.

“This sale represents a meaningful and important reduction in our land holdings,” said M/I Homes CEO and president Robert Schottenstein. “Our West Palm operation has been our smallest for more than 10 years, and we believe that disposing of our West Palm assets during these challenging times is the right decision for M/I Homes.”

M/I Homes has operations in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

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Former Sears chief dies at 73

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Edward A. Brennan, who served as CEO and chairman of the board for Sears, Roebuck & Co. from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, died at his home in Burr Ridge, Ill., following a brief illness. He was 73.

Brennan became CEO of Sears in 1986, when the company was the nation’s largest retailer and occupied the iconic Sears tower in Chicago. At that time, the retailer also managed big-name ancillary companies, including Coldwell Banker, Dean Witter, Discover and Allstate Insurance. Brennan served as CEO until 1995, through a period that saw Sears’ strong market presence decline in the face of pressures from big-box and discount retailers like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe’s and others.

Prior to his service as CEO, Brennan was named president of Sears Merchandise Group in 1980, then to the post of corporate president and COO in 1984.

Following his tenure at Sears, Brennan served as a director at American Airlines and was named executive chairman and president of American in 2003, after the company’s CEO resigned abruptly. He served as CEO of American Airlines for one year.

Aprivate service was held Dec. 31 in Willowbrook, Ill. Brennan is survived by his wife, Lois, six children and 19 grandchildren.

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