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Carlson family sells hotel business to Chinese company

Plus: Minnesota’s health care prices among highest in U.S.; House bill includes just $15 million for rural broadband; the latest on Prince; and more.

Radisson is now a Chinese operation. Jackie Crosby of the Star Tribune says, “The Carlson Cos. said Wednesday that it has sold its Radisson chain and the rest of its hotel business to a Chinese conglomerate, as competitive pressures drive an ongoing consolidation of the hospitality industry. The Carlson Hotel Group is one of the top-10 largest hospitality companies in the world, operating more than 1,400 hotels in more than 110 countries and territories.” No terms announced.

Strib biz columnist Lee Schafer adds, “ … the story here is really just a simple one: It’s a case of family shareholders figuring out that there are better uses for their money than keeping it in a hotel business that faces more than one worrisome trend. Carlson, after all, is really just a very big family business. … HNA [the Chinese company] has big plans. … It was a company committed to investing in the business to grow it, while also leaving the headquarters here in the Twin Cities, with CEO David Berg still in charge.”

We’re No. 5! Stribber Christopher Snowbeck says, “Health insurers pay higher prices in Minnesota than in most parts of the country for more than 200 common health care services, according to a new report that challenges the state’s reputation for frugal health care. … For about 20 services, the average price in Minnesota is at least twice the national average.”

Right. “Smarter.” I gotta remember that. Says Don Davis for the Forum News Service, “Republicans want to finish a southwest Minnesota water project, kill the state film board, fund a tractor safety program, get rid of two business economic development programs and help Mille Lacs Lake-area businesses suffering from walleye fishing restrictions. All of that is part of what the GOP says would come without raising overall state spending. … The spending bill lays the groundwork for ‘not necessarily bigger government, but smarter government,’ Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, said.”

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As long as “smarter” has nothing to do with decent internet service. Tim Pugmire at MPR says, “The Minnesota House backed a supplemental budget bill Wednesday that includes new spending to expand rural broadband, promote tourism and tackle racial economic disparities. … Democrats also took aim at the bill’s broadband investment of $15 million in 2017. That’s also just a fraction of what the governor and Senate are seeking. The money is ‘woefully inadequate’ and will put rural Minnesota further behind in economic development, said Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth.”

OMG OTP. Says Jamie Delage in the PiPress, “It wasn’t hard for police, deputies and troopers to find distracted drivers to ticket during a recent weeklong crackdown in Minnesota, but it was hard in some cases to get the drivers’ attention. One driver was stopped twice in the same day for texting in Blue Earth County. One trooper reported trying to stop a vehicle for two miles before the driver, who was ‘extremely distracted by texting,’ pulled over. And one man checking the weather on his phone ran a red light and nearly struck a West St. Paul police squad car. Police statewide handed out 972 citations to drivers for texting while driving during the extra enforcement effort April 11-17.”  

Not quite Florida-swallow-a-truck-large, but big enough. WCCO-TV’s story says, “A stretch of West River Parkway has been closed in downtown Minneapolis after a sinkhole opened up near it Wednesday morning. The sinkhole happened near Mill Ruins Park, next to the bicycle path. Authorities announced that the parkway would be closed between Portland Avenue and 4th Avenue North.”

More Prince stuff: Ashley Collins at The Hollywood Reporter says, “If Prince died without a will in place, as his sister suggests, his estate will be determined by a Minnesota probate court and likely will come with a hefty tax bill. … If there really is no will, Minnesota statutes and federal tax code will dictate who gets what and at what cost. Attorneys point out that his sister and five half-siblings each would inherit one-sixth of the estate since Minnesota law treats all siblings the same. Prince’s estate will have to foot a potentially huge tax bill. Rosenbloom estimates that if Prince’s taxable estate is valued at $250 million (that’s a conservative estimate, based on reports following his death), the icon’s heirs could be looking at a bill for about $120 million in state and federal estate taxes.” Dang! What would Mitt Romney do?

At Slate, Helaine Olen says, “It’s almost certain the Internal Revenue Service is going to take an interest in Prince’s wealth, as well. The IRS and the estate of Michael Jackson have battled for the better part of a decade. According to the Los Angeles Times, Jackson’s executors claimed it had a $7 million net worth when he died in 2009. The IRS begged to differ, claiming it was worth more than $1.1 billion. … There are lots of reasons for this sort of divergence, but one is almost certainly how, exactly, one should value the estate. How do you account for the fact that, in the cases of celebrities like Michael Jackson and Prince, their death in and of itself increases the worth of their work, which will continue to earn money for its owners?”

For Newsweek, Tufayel Ahmed writes, “The musician’s extensive back catalog, consisting of 39 studio albums, could alone be worth as much as $500 million, his former manager Owen Husney has estimated. That’s without taking into account his multi-million dollar Paisley Park recording facility in Chanhassen, Minnesota, image rights, other property he owned, or even his elusive vault of unreleased recordings. … The estate, whether overseen by the Bremer Trust or his heirs, will need to be careful how it monetizes, or doesn’t monetize, as the case may be, Prince’s music going forward. … Future exploitation of Prince classics could be worth ‘hundreds of millions of dollars,’ says Scott, so there may be a temptation perhaps to license out a song to, say, a soda commercial for immediate remuneration — but in the long run the ‘value of [music] could be massively diluted.’ As for new music, it’s well known Prince had a vault at Paisley Park where he stored a treasure trove of unreleased music.

Also, Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib reports, “Prince’s bodyguard carried his unconscious body down the steps of his private jet after it made an emergency landing in Moline, Ill., six days before the superstar collapsed and died at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minn. …  The records contain almost no detail about what the responders did. Several sources with direct knowledge of the death investigation, however, have told the Star Tribune that paramedics gave Prince a shot of the opioid antidote Narcan, and that Prince had overdosed on an opioid.”