- - Sunday, February 19, 2012

ENERGY

Iran cuts off oil exports to Britain, France

TEHRAN — Iran has halted oil shipments to Britain and France, the Oil Ministry said Sunday, in an apparent pre-emptive blow against the European Union after the bloc imposed sanctions on Iran’s crucial fuel exports.

The EU imposed tough sanctions against Iran last month, which included a freeze of the country’s central bank assets and an oil embargo set to begin in July. The sanctions, along with other punitive measures imposed by the U.S., are part of Western efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi had warned earlier this month that Tehran could cut off oil exports to “hostile” European nations. And Sunday, Ali Reza Nikzad-Rahbar, a spokesman for Iran’s Oil Ministry, said on the ministry’s website that “crude oil exports to British and French companies have been halted.”

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office declined comment, and there was no immediate response from French officials.

REAL ESTATE

Debt holder acquires bankrupt Hooters Casino

LAS VEGAS — The main debt holder of Hooters Casino Hotel in Las Vegas will become the resort’s new owner after a bankruptcy auction drew no outside bidders.

Canpartners Realty Holding Co. IV will buy the 696-room property just east of the Las Vegas Strip under a sales plan approved Friday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Bruce A. Markell.

The Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Review-Journal report Canpartners acquired the resort with a $60 million credit bid. A March 30 closing date is scheduled. Plans call for operations to keep running as usual during the transition, and for all Hooters creditors to be paid in full.

GAMBLING

Wynn Resorts buys out biggest stakeholder

NEW YORK — Wynn Resorts Ltd. is looking to sever ties with its biggest stakeholder and onetime ally.

The Las Vegas casino operator said Sunday that it forcibly bought back all the shares controlled by Kazuo Okada after finding the Japanese tycoon made improper payments to overseas gambling regulators. The company also filed a lawsuit against Mr. Okada for breach of fiduciary duty and asked him resign from its board.

The announcement marked the latest deterioration of Mr. Okada’s relationship with Steve Wynn, founder of Wynn Resorts. Mr. Okada is the founder of Universal Entertainment Corp., which makes casino games and held an almost 20 percent stake in Wynn Resorts through its privately held subsidiary Aruze USA Inc.

BANKS

WaMu bankruptcy plan approved by judge

WILMINGTON, Del. — After a long and contentious legal battle and more than three years in bankruptcy, Washington Mutual Inc. on Friday finally won court approval of a reorganization plan.

“It took 3 1/2 years, but I think the result is remarkable and well worth it,” said Judge Mary F. Walrath, who had twice rejected reorganization plans filed by Washington Mutual before giving her blessing to a revised plan Washington Mutual submitted in December.

As with its earlier proposals, Washington Mutual’s plan is based on WMI, JPMorgan Chase and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. settling lawsuits they filed against one another after the collapse of Seattle-based Washington Mutual Bank in 2008 and the sale of its assets to JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $1.9 billion. It was the largest bank failure in U.S. history.

The plan calls for some $7 billion to be distributed to creditors and includes significant recoveries for shareholders, who often are left with nothing in bankruptcy cases.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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