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Tommy Hilfiger

Apax deal worth

$1.6 billion taken

Four months after it put itself up for sale, clothing company Tommy Hilfiger Corp. agreed to accept a $1.6 billion, or $16.80 a share, cash bid from Apax Partners, a private investment company.

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Hilfiger, known for its red, white and blue logo that resembles a signal flag in sailing regattas, expects the deal to close by spring 2006 subject to shareholder approval.

While Apax did not detail its plans for Hilfiger, which went public in 1992 and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the firm is expected to be taken private. It is seen operating as a private company focused on expanding overseas and keeping its brand relevant in the United States.

Apax’s offer for the clothing designer is a 5 percent premium to Hilfiger’s Thursday closing stock price of $16. Hilfiger shares closed flat at $16 late Friday.

Apax Partners operates in the U.S., Europe, Israel and Asia, and has invested in private and public companies, among them Phillips-Van Heusen, Tommy Bahama and the Children’s Place.

Wal-Mart

$172 million award

will be appealed

Wal-Mart plans to appeal a $172 million judgment awarded to thousands of employees who claimed they were illegally denied lunch breaks.

A jury on Thursday found the world’s largest retailer violated a 2001 state law that requires employers to give 30-minute, unpaid lunch breaks to employees who work at least six hours.

The verdict came after nearly three days of deliberations and four months of testimony. In a statement, Wal-Mart said it would appeal.

The class-action lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court is one of about 40 nationwide alleging workplace violations by Wal-Mart, and the first to go to trial.

“We absolutely disagree with their findings,” company attorney Neal Manne said. Manne claimed the state law in question could only be enforced by California regulators, not by workers in a courtroom.

He conceded that Wal-Mart made mistakes in not always allowing for lunch breaks when the 2001 law took affect but said the company is “100 percent” in compliance now.

Attorney Fred Furth, who brought the case on behalf of the workers, said outside court that the jury “held Wal-Mart to account.”

UPS

Mediator seeks

recess in talks

The federal mediator overseeing negotiations between UPS and its pilots union on Friday called for an indefinite recess in contract talks.

The recess comes a day after the Independent Pilots Association threatened to ask to be released from federal mediation so it can strike, citing three years of contract negotiations with the world’s largest shipping carrier that have failed to produce an agreement.

UPS said this is the second recess since the company and its pilots have been in federal mediated talks, which began in June 2004.

Compiled from The Associated Press