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Investor group OK'd to buy Amfuel assets

A top economic development official in Magnolia has scheduled a meeting early next month with investors whose $1.62 million purchase of American Fuel Cell and Coated Fabrics has been approved by a U.S. bankruptcy judge in Texas.

More commonly known as Amfuel, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just over a year ago to re-organize its finances in an effort partly aimed at preserving its Magnolia plant.

Based in Wichita Falls, Texas, Amfuel has operated in Magnolia since the end of World War II. Its bankruptcy petition said it had 243 employees, most of them in Magnolia.

"I think it's going to be a good turnaround for the company," said Cammie Hambrice, executive director of the Magnolia Economic Development Corp. "We're excited."

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mark X. Mullin issued an order Nov. 15 authorizing the sale of "substantially all" of Amfuel's assets to LB Amfuel LLC led by Russell Belinsky and LB Amfuel Real Estate LLC. The sale was reported Friday by the Magnolia Reporter website.

Matthias Kleinsasser, a Fort Worth attorney who handled the bankruptcy, said in an Oct. 22 motion asking expedited approval of the sale that the company's "financial position is extremely precarious."

-- Noel Oman

Walmart affiliate tests visual search

Walmart Inc. is testing a proprietary Internet visual search technology on the home furnishings website Hayneedle.com, which it acquired as part of its 2016 purchase of Jet.com. The tests will let Walmart Labs refine the feature before making it available to Walmart.com shoppers.

Using the new technology, shoppers can use their cellphones to take a photo of a piece of furniture, even from a magazine, and search for similar items on Hayneedle. Visual search has been embraced by Amazon, eBay and Pinterest, plus a growing number of retailers like Neiman Marcus and Wayfair.

Hayneedle's mobile app debuted in 2017 with visual search capability developed by third-party vendor Slyce, according to a news release. However, the company also began working with Walmart Labs on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

-- Serenah McKay

Windstream soars as state index rises

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, climbed 2.46 to 365.22 Friday.

Windstream shares rose 13.9 percent in heavy trading.

Murphy Oil fell 2.2 percent on low volume.

For the week, 12 stocks gained ground and three fell.

Total volume for the index was 22 million shares.

The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.

Business on 12/29/2018

Print Headline: Investor group OK'd to buy Amfuel assets Walmart affiliate tests visual search Windstream soars as state index rises

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