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Cash America buying 34 new stores in US

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Less than two weeks after announcing plans to slash its operations in Mexico, Cash America is adding new pawn shops in the U.S.

The Fort Worth, Texas, company said Tuesday that it has signed two deals for 34 locations, in Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky and Arizona, for $68 million to $72 million.

Cash America International Inc. said it expects the new stores to add about $11 million in pawn loan balances to its total U.S. pawn loan portfolio, which was $222 million on June 30.

The company paid for one of the purchases with its long-term credit facility, and also expects to use that financing to pay for the second deal.

While it's adding U.S. shops, Cash America is closing about 147 Mexico locations. The company said late last month that its pawn shops in Mexico reported a loss of $8.3 million for the six months ended June 30, mostly because of unprofitable jewelry-only locations. It's closing many of those stores and plans to concentrate on full-service pawn shops in Mexico.

The company had nearly 1,100 pawn shops and payday lending outlets in the U.S. and Mexico as of June 30. It also sells loans online in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

Cash America shares slipped 6 cents to $38.57 in morning trading.

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