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Economy and Business


American Greetings is back in Weiss family's private hands
But Brooklyn is still planning for the headquarters shift to Westlake
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


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M.L. Schultze
 
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American Greetings is expected to be back in the hands of its founder’s family by Friday. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on a sale approved this morning by shareholders of  America’s second-largest greeting card maker.

LISTEN: American Greetings sale and what's next for Brooklyn

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Shareholders overwhelmingly agreed to take $19 per share from the Weiss family, which started American Greetings in 1906. Financing to return the company to private hands is coming from loans, a line of credit, the Weiss family and from an affiliate of Koch Industries. In all, the sale comes to $612 million.

Since the family makes up many of American Greetings shareholders, the sale has been largely expected since the board  OK’d the plan in April.

American Greetings has been planning to move its headquarters from one Cleveland suburb – Brooklyn – to another – Westlake, with the help of more than $90 million from in tax and other incentives. That was put on hold last fall amidst talk of the sale.

But Brooklyn Mayor Richard Balbier says Brooklyn isn’t counting on a longer-term  reprieve.

“We started a rainy day fund, we have almost $2 million in that for when the day comes and they actually move. …  We have new industry coming into the city now, in fact a new company’s …supposed to open in a couple weeks. Martin’s Ambulance Service, they have 400 employees and $8 million payroll so we keep chipping away at what we’re going to lose. So hopefully it won’t be too big of an impact on us.”

American Greetings has annual revenue of nearly $1.9 billion. To qualify for the incentives, including state tax credits and low-interest loans, it promised to keep  the equivalent of 1,750 full-time jobs at its headquarters.

The Plain Dealer reported in May that the company had cut 1,500 full-time and 600 part-time jobs worldwide last year.

 

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