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Wal-Mart looks to enter Malaysia

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Wal-Mart has applied to open stores in Malaysia, five months after the Southeast Asian country announced it was easing restrictions on foreign “hypermarkets,” according to Bloomberg.

“The government is still vetting the applications,” Malaysian minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs Shafie Apdal told the news service.

Another official, deputy trade minister S. Veerasingam, said Wal-Mart has shown interest in entering the Malaysian market, but declined to further elaborate on whether the retailer had made a formal application, according to AFP.

The country recently has sought an increase in foreign investment, including a goal of 6 percent economic growth by 2007. Malaysia, however, banned foreign companies from setting up retail superstores in 2002.

Wal-Mart operates in 13 different countries — in Asia, the retailer has locations in Japan and China.

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Centex warns of impending $1 billion in charges

BY HBSDEALER Staff

National home builder Centex has warned of an impending second-quarter charge of $1 billion, primarily in land value writedowns, following a three-month period of falling home sales combined with lower land values.

Of the approximately $1 billion, Centex paid $850 million to cover declining values of real estate and undeveloped land. The company will release official second-quarter results on Oct. 23.

Centex said home sales fell 13 percent in the second quarter, while it has set aside a provision of $60 million for higher expected losses in the mortgage and credit markets. A provision is an amount of money set aside as an allowance for bad loans, taking into consideration defaults and term renegotiations.

Net home sales dropped to 5,953 units, down 14 percent from a year ago. The company’s backlog of new homes decreased 38 percent to 9,633 units.

Based in Dallas, Centex builds homes in 25 states.

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Bombay Company sold; new owner to operate solely in Canada

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Home decor retailer Bombay Company has been sold at auction in a deal that would see all the company’s U.S. assets liquidated, with operations continuing only in Canada. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Retail investment companies Gordon Brothers Retail Partners and Hilco Merchant Resources won an auction for the home decor company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September.

Bombay said the two investment groups have proposed that Canadian retailers Bowring and Benix have agreed to help keep the Canadian Bombay stores open.

If the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Ft. Worth, Texas, approves the deal, Bombay could start store closing sales as early as this week. Other Bombay assets, including its U.S. intellectual property rights and its real estate assets, are not part of the proposed transaction.

“This is a difficult day for Bombay in the United States,” said Bombay CEO David Stewart in a statement. “Over the coming weeks and months, our U.S.-based employees will work closely with [the investment groups] to prepare, stock and operate the stores during the holiday season.”

The company operates a total of 384 retail outlets in the United States and Canada.

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