Bassett Furniture in talks to sell stake in High Point's IHFC

Says it hopes to reach deal by end of February

BASSETT, Va. — Bassett Furniture Inds. said today it is in negotiations to sell its 46.9% stake in the International Home Furnishings Center, the 3.5 million-square-feet showroom building in High Point.

The company said no definitive agreement has been reached, and did not disclose the prospective buyers.

Any such sale would be made only as part of the simultaneous sale of all ownership interests in IHFC to the prospective purchaser, the company said. Bassett is one of four shareholders in the building.

"The proposed sale of IHFC offers us the opportunity to unlock value in a key non-core asset that we believe is not currently fully recognized in the company's stock price as well as to significantly strengthen our already strong balance sheet," said Rob Spilman, the company's president and CEO. "Although there can be no assurance that an agreement among the required parties will be reached, we hope to complete the sale by the end of February."

By 10 a.m. today, Bassett's stock price had jumped about 22% on the news. The company also reported its fourth quarter earnings, with a 10.9% sales increase and higher operating income.

The announcement of the pending sale follows reports that an unidentified buyer is trying to arrange the purchase of the IHFC, Market Square and Showplace in a massive real estate deal. Both Market Square and Showplace are in receivership.

The High Point Enterprise reported recently that if the deal went through, the new owners would control 64% of the 9.8 million square feet of home furnishings showrooms at the High Point Market.

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