SKI INDUSTRY: Saddleback in talks with prospective buyer

Saddleback Mountain ski area in Rangeley is close to completing a sale and is expected to make an announcement about its future soon, Saddleback general manager Chris Farmer said Friday.

The owners of the ski resort, Bill and Irene Berry of Farmington, have been negotiating with a prospective buyer who would be able to open the mountain this winter. If a deal is not reached, it’s unlikely the resort could be sold in time for the ski area to open this winter, Farmer said.

In July, the ski resort said it needed to raise $3 million within two weeks to replace the 51-year-old double chairlift or it would not be able to open for the 2015-16 season. Read the story.

PAPER INDUSTRY: Lincoln Paper finds potential buyer to begin auction at $5 million

Lincoln Paper and Tissue has identified a company to provide an opening bid of $5 million in the auction for the bankrupt paper company’s assets.

The paper mill, which filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 28, signed an asset purchase agreement this week with LP Acquisitions LLC, a subsidiary of Reich Brothers, a company with offices in New York and California that specializes in the “acquisition and disposition of distressed and surplus assets,” according to its website.

A federal bankruptcy judge still needs to approve the details of the auction, which is tentavily scheduled to take place in early November. Read the story.

REAL ESTATE AND DEVELOPMENT: Developer proposes new hotel near Portland’s eastern waterfront

Ara Aftandilian of the Portland Norwich Group, a developer based in Florida, wants to build a six-story hotel with top-floor condominiums near Portland’s eastern waterfront, the latest in a series of projects that have added more than 650 hotel rooms in the downtown area in the past two years.

The project, estimated to cost $20 million, indicates that developers still see opportunities in Portland despite a development boom in hotels and market-rate and luxury housing, and speculation that the market could become oversaturated.

The proposal calls for a 150-room AC Hotel by Marriott at 158 Fore St., with roughly 4,000 square feet of restaurant or retail space. Sixteen one- and two-bedroom condos would be built on the top floor.

The Planning Board will likely take up the proposal this month or in early November. Read the story.

LABOR: Opponents of $15 minimum wage launch campaign to defeat ballot initiative

Businesses opposed to a $15-an-hour minimum wage in Portland launched their campaign to defeat the November referendum on the proposal Wednesday morning.

The “Too Far, Too Fast” campaign backers argue that the $15 minimum wage would be too large of an increase for businesses to absorb and could lead to job cuts or even business closings.

The anti-referendum effort is being spearheaded by the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. Chamber officials said they may spend about $100,000 to defeat the citizen-initiated referendum. Read the story.

ENERGY: Former Maine PUC head to take helm at Summit Utilities

Kurt Adams, a former head of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, is leaving his job as chief development officer at wind developer SunEdison to become chief executive of Summit Utilities, a Colorado-based natural gas company. The move comes as Summit CEO Michael Earnest is retiring. Earnest co-founded Colorado Natural Gas Inc., which became part of Summit Utilities in 1997. Summit Utilities is the parent company of Summit Natural Gas of Maine, which has been expanding in the state. Read the story.

TRANSPORTATION: Portland to get first direct bus service to New York City

Concord Coach Lines plans to begin offering Portland’s first direct bus service to New York City on Nov. 2.

The company will use “executive-class” buses on the six-hour trip that feature leather seats, fewer seats and a more spacious design. For a limited time, tickets will cost $49 one way and $98 round trip.

It expects the direct trip, extra leg room and Wi-Fi to be popular with business and leisure travelers. Read the story.

Portland’s B&M baked bean factory to lose rail service

The St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad Co. plans to stop service to Portland, forcing the line’s sole customer – the B&M Baked Beans factory – to turn to more expensive trucks to deliver its raw materials and maintain operations.

Since the 1920s, B&M has relied on railcars to deliver millions of pounds of pea beans a year from the Midwest. The company has said using trucks to deliver the beans would increase its costs by a six-figure sum.

The plant, which employs about 120 people, is the southern terminus of a 24-mile stretch of track that starts in Auburn. According to the rail company, the route has become prohibitively expensive to operate over the last several years. It filed notice that it plans to discontinue the service Monday. Read the story.

TRADE: Trans-Pacific Partnership has potential to help, hurt Maine companies

Eleven Pacific Rim countries and the United States hammered out the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Monday, which still must pass Congress before implementation.

The reduction or elimination of tariffs in the TPP, which represents 40 percent of the world’s economy, has the potential to both hurt and help Maine industries.

The Maine jobs most at risk from passage of the agreement are the 900 at New Balance’s manufacturing facilities in Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Norway, which could be vulnerable to cheap imports in the athletic footwear market. But the pact could also open new markets for some of Maine’s exports, such as lobster and seafood. Read the story.

BANKING: Bangor Savings expanding presence in southern Maine

Bangor Savings Bank says it is spending $10 million to expand its presence in southern Maine.

The bank, which is headquartered in Bangor and is one of Maine’s largest community banks, said it plans to relocate its Portland branch at 280 Fore St. to 77 Middle St. and to renovate its remaining office space at 280 Fore St., which has functioned as the bank’s southern Maine headquarters since 2005.

The bank, which has $3.15 billion in assets, decided to move into the southern Maine market 10 years ago. Read the story.

Bank of America’s top executive visits Portland

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan visited Portland on Thursday, telling a friendly crowd of local business leaders that the mega-bank has fully recovered from the financial crisis, and that it has implemented policies to prevent a repeat of the foreclosure epidemic that forced millions of Americans out of their homes.

At the event sponsored by the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, Moynihan covered a broad range of topics including interest rates, China and the global economy, the minimum wage, government regulation and recent changes to the way banks disclose mortgage terms to homebuyers. Read the story.