Credit card use reduced
WASHINGTON — 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 decline in credit card use suggests consumers remain cautious, a trend that could hold back economic growth. Consumers increased their borrowing $10.4 billion in July from June to a record high of $2.85 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Monday. That followed a gain of $11.9 billion in June. A category that includes auto loans and student loans increased $12.3 billion in July to a record $2 trillion. But a of measure consumers' credit card debt fell $1.8 billion to roughly $850 billion, following an even larger $3.7 billion decline in June.
Neiman Marcus purchased
NEW YORK — Luxury merchant Neiman Marcus is getting a new owner. Ares Management and Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board announced Monday they are buying the luxury chain Neiman Marcus for $6 billion. The two new owners will hold an equal economic interest in Neiman Marcus, and the company's management will retain a minority stake. The agreement follows an acquisition of another big luxury player: Saks Inc. Saks, which operates Saks Fifth Avenue, recently agreed to sell itself to Hudson's Bay Co., the Canadian parent of upscale retailer Lord & Taylor, for about $2.4 billion. The deals come as the luxury market shows signs of a slowdown after rebounding after the Great Recession.
Clothier loses case
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that trendy clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch wrongly fired a Muslim worker who insisted on wearing a headscarf. U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said the company violated anti-discrimination laws when it fired Hani Khan from its Hollister store in San Mateo, Calif., in 2010. Rogers issued the ruling Tuesday. The company claimed the head scarf violated its policy governing the look of its employees, which it said was part of its marketing strategy. The judge said Abercrombie & Fitch offered no “credible evidence” that Khan's head scarf cost the company any sales.
Aramark aims to go public
Aramark Corp. has filed paperwork to take the food service company public for its third time. The Philadelphia-based company first went private in 1984 to thwart a hostile takeover, then listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2001. It was taken private for the second time in 2007, in a $6.3 billion buyout by an investment group led by then-CEO Joseph Neubauer. The group included the private equity units of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, along with private investment firm Thomas H. Lee Partners. Aramark did not specify the offering's size or timing in regulatory filing Monday. Aramark earned $104 million in 2012 on revenue of $13.5 billion.
Secret court asked to rule
WASHINGTON — Facebook and Yahoo asked a secret court Monday to allow them to disclose data on national security orders the companies have received under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The two tech companies filed separate, similar motions Monday with the secret court that oversees that law. Two other companies, Google and Microsoft, have similar motions pending with the court. All four companies were among several U.S. Internet businesses identified as giving the National Security Agency access to customer data under the program known as PRISM. Facebook and Yahoo say they want to correct false claims and reports about what they provide to the government. They argue they have a free-speech right to publish aggregate data on national security orders. Revelations about the program by former NSA contractor Ed Snowden have prompted a broader debate about the privacy of Americans' communications.
Firm files for bankruptcy
ST. LOUIS — The maker of furniture brands such as Thomasville, Broyhill, Lane and Drexel Heritage has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Furniture Brands International Inc. says it plans to sell the bulk of its business to investment firm Oaktree Capital Management. The St. Louis-based company also runs the Thomasville chain of furniture stores. It said Monday it viewed bankruptcy protection as the best way to address its liquidity challenges and strengthen its operations.
From Wire Reports