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Business Briefing

December 26, 2009

2 resorts to open hotel towers

Two more casino resorts are preparing to open new hotel towers, less than two weeks after the debut of the 4,000-room Aria casino-hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.

The 1,201-room PH Tower at the Planet Hollywood Resort and the 374-room HRH Tower at the Hard Rock Hotel are set to open Monday, with executives at both properties saying they seek well-heeled guests.

Hard Rock Hotel chief Randy Kwasniewski said the all-suite HRH tower on Harmon Avenue was part of a $750-million expansion aimed at attracting customers looking for a "boutique experience" unlike that of the 450-room Paradise Tower, which opened in July.

TRANSPORTATION

Oregon officials push for rail line

Three members of Oregon's congressional delegation have sent a letter to the new chairman of the federal Surface Transportation Board, asking him to quickly decide on whether to allow a railroad company to operate a 218-mile commercial rail line between Oregon and California.

Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Rep. Peter A. DeFazio sent the letter last week to Daniel Elliott, asking him to bring the matter to a vote. The line between Dillard, Ore., and Black Butte, Calif., would be operated by Yreka Western Railroad Co.

Two years ago, Roseburg, Ore.-based Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad curtailed southbound service between Ashland and Weed, Calif., and sliced northbound service from five or six days a week to two.

CAR RENTALS

N.Y. storms cause Hertz shortages

Hertz Global Holdings Inc. faced a shortage of cars in New York City, leaving customers unable to get vehicles they had reserved, after snowstorms caused a surge in one-way rentals.

Several hundred cars were driven out of the area by travelers who were grounded at local airports by the blizzard that struck Dec. 19 and Dec. 20, said Richard Broome, a spokesman for the Park Ridge, N.J., company. The second-largest U.S. car-rental company wasn't able to return many of the vehicles to New York in time for holiday reservations, he said.

TOURISM

Delaware River crossing is saved

After months of financial uncertainty, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. has donated $400,000 to ensure that George Washington continues crossing the Delaware River from Pennsylvania into New Jersey each Christmas.

Thousands of people turn out every year to watch the reenactment of Washington's 1776 crossing of the river in a surprise attack on British forces. But this year's reenactment was imperiled by government budget cuts that have closed a visitor center on the Pennsylvania side.

Lockheed Martin pledged a five-year commitment of volunteer support from 13,000 employees for park maintenance and operations.

AUTOMOTIVE

Suit threatened in failed Opel deal

Russian lender Sberbank demanded compensation from General Motors Co. for the failed deal to buy Opel, threatening to sue GM otherwise.

Sberbank Chief Executive German Gref said in televised remarks that GM should pay "voluntary" compensation for its decision in early November to scrap the sale of a 55% stake in the struggling Opel to Sberbank and Canada's Magna International Inc.

"We think that GM's commitment went so far that they should have sealed the deal," Gref said, adding that if GM does not agree to reimburse Sberbank's losses it will "demand compensation in court."

-- times wire reports

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