August 29, 2006 in Business

Safeco sells headquarters building

Company News From Wire Reports The Spokesman-Review

Safeco Corp. said Monday that it has sold its headquarters building in Seattle’s university district to the University of Washington for $130 million.

The sale is part of a previously announced plan to lease space in two downtown Seattle buildings to save money. The company has already sold its offices in Redmond, east of Seattle, to Microsoft Corp.

Safeco said in a statement that it expects the sale to the University of Washington to close in September. But the company plans to lease the building back from the university through the end of 2007, and to move most employees downtown by fall of 2007. Inc. said Monday that it may buy back as much as $500 million in stock over the next two years, marking the first time the company’s board has authorized a share repurchase plan.

The Seattle online retailer said it may buy back shares if it believes the company’s stock is undervalued. shares have fallen nearly 40 percent so far this year. The company has riled Wall Street by investing heavily in things like cheap or free shipping deals and new technology, while also slashing prices.

Western Refining Inc. said Monday it is buying Giant Industries Inc. for $1.23 billion in cash, creating the fourth-largest publicly traded independent oil refiner in the United States.

The combined company will have the capacity to handle about 216,000 barrels per day from four refineries. That is about 84 percent more than Western’s current capacity.

Western has a refinery in El Paso, Texas, where it is based. The deal will give a refinery in Yorktown, Va., and two refineries in New Mexico.

In addition to its refineries, Giant Industries, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., owns a crude-oil gathering pipeline system based in Farmington, N.M., a fleet of crude-oil and finished-product truck transports and retail service stations in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona.

“Satellite TV provider EchoStar Communications Corp. said Monday it has reached a $100 million settlement with affiliate associations of three major networks over distant-programming service but has been unable to resolve differences with Fox Network.

The agreement could end a nine-year lawsuit over the Dish Network operator’s practice of selling programming from ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox stations that originates in one market to subscribers who live in a different city. It still must be approved by a judge in Florida.

EchoStar said it will pay the affiliate associations $100 million to protect subscribers from the shutoff of distant channels and expand the number of markets in which it offers local network services from 165 to 175 by the end of the year.

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