BP said it bought the 50 percent stake it doesn't own in Olympic Pipe Line from Royal Dutch/Shell. Terms weren't disclosed.

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BP said it bought the 50 percent stake it doesn’t own in Olympic Pipe Line from Royal Dutch/Shell. Terms weren’t disclosed.

BP, Europe’s largest oil company, will continue to operate the system, which can carry as much as 325,000 barrels of fuel daily to Seattle and Portland from refineries in the Northwest, BP said Thursday.


Grounds found for name change

A federal judge says the name “Sambuck’s” above a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop in Astoria, Ore., is too similar to Starbucks and must be changed.

Owner Samantha Lundberg — who contended in her challenge to Starbucks that she is known by her maiden name, Samantha Buck — opened the store, named after herself, in 2000, before Astoria got a Starbucks. She got a cease-and-desist letter from Starbucks in 2002.

Lundberg said Thursday that she had few details of a ruling Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Ancer Haggerty of Portland.

Spokeswoman Lara Wyss said Starbucks was “pleased with the court’s decision.”


Open-source plan slowing in Mass.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney seems to be having second thoughts about abandoning Microsoft software on state computers in favor of a rival open-source format.

Microsoft has pledged to standardize the document format for its Office software, undercutting much of the criticism that fueled Romney’s plan to begin embracing a rival open-source format in 2007.

A spokesman for the Republican governor said Wednesday that Microsoft’s attempt to win approval of its format as an international standard reduces the possibility Massachusetts may eventually remove Office software from tens of thousands of government computers.

Met Mortgage

Idaho, Ariz. clear sale of 2 insurers

Regulators in Idaho and Arizona have approved a plan to sell two insurance affiliates of failed Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities that had been seized in March 2004 and operated under receivership.

If the plan is approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams, creditors could receive a share of as much as $20 million from sales of Old West Annuity and Life Insurance and Old Standard Life Insurance.

Spokane-based Met Mortgage filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February. Its collapse cost more than 10,000 investors some $450 million.


Asian distribution agreement signed

Acacia Research’s CombiMatrix group, in Mukilteo, has inked an Asian distribution deal with Cell Sciences, Acacia said Thursday.

The deal covers CombiMatrix products such as its microarrays — which can detect bird flu and other influenza strains — in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Hong Kong and Indonesia.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Seattle Times staff


Costco Wholesale

Company seeking out-of-state drinks

Costco Wholesale on Thursday asked U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman to let it and other stores buy directly from out-of-state wineries and breweries. State lawyers representing the state Liquor Control Board warned the judge that doing so would dramatically increase alcohol consumption in Washington.

The judge said she would rule in two weeks on whether to grant summary judgment or have the case proceed to trial in March.

Costco’s lawsuit, filed early last year, challenges Washington’s scheme for distributing alcohol from other states. Under it, out-of-state vintners and brewers must sell to one of about 200 licensed distributors in Washington state, at a markup of at least 10 percent above cost. The distributors then sell to retailers, such as Costco, at another 10 percent markup.

Knight Ridder

Investors construct initial bids for chain

Investors willing to pay billions for Knight Ridder’s chain of daily newspapers and Web sites have until Dec. 9 to put together their initial bids, according to people familiar with the process.

Blackstone Group of New York is part of a coalition of private-equity investors that is considering submitting an initial bid to Knight Ridder’s advisers, a member of the group said Thursday.

Knight Ridder has a 49.5 percent stake in The Seattle Times.

The New York buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts also has been looking at Knight Ridder, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. KKR officials would not comment. Knight Ridder spokesman Polk Laffoon IV also declined to comment on any aspects of the bidding for the company.

In a report to investors earlier this week, an analyst at Morgan Stanley said Knight Ridder, which has 32 daily newspapers in 29 markets, could be worth $75 a share. But Wall Street remains skeptical, with Knight Ridder shares closing Thursday at $60.93, up 53 cents. At that price, Knight Ridder is worth $4.1 billion.

Hollinger International

Media baron pleads not guilty to fraud

Former media baron Conrad Black pleaded not guilty to federal fraud charges Thursday in connection with the alleged looting of more than $80 million from the Hollinger International newspaper empire he once controlled.

The 61-year-old Black was arraigned in U.S. District Court, two weeks after being indicted with three other former Hollinger executives and accused of cheating on taxes and pilfering millions from the company to support a lavish lifestyle.

Black, who until recently controlled a large stable of newspapers from Chicago to London to Jerusalem, lambasted the charges at an appearance in his home city of Toronto last week, calling them “absolute nonsense” and “one massive smear job from A to Z.”

Millennium Partners

Company will pay “ill-gotten revenues”

Millennium Partners will pay $121.4 million in “ill-gotten revenues,” its founder Israel Englander will pay $30 million in civil penalties and two management companies will pay $26.6 million under an agreement in a New York and federal investigation into market timing schemes, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said Thursday.

The agreement is the first major settlement involving a hedge fund for Spitzer and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. They have been investigating similar market-timing schemes in mutual funds that benefit insiders at the expense of individual investors.

The complaint accused Millennium of earning more than $100 million from 1999 to 2003, much of it structured to avoid mutual fund defenses to block market timing or to conceal Millennium’s role.

Six Flags

NFL team owner appointed chairman

Six Flags, the theme-park owner which is considering a possible sale, said Thursday it has unanimously appointed Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder as non-executive chairman.

Six Flags also said the company remains up for sale and will consider bids made before mid-month.

On Tuesday, Six Flags shareholders voted to oust Chief Executive Kieran Burke as chairman and turned control over to Snyder, resolving a contentious proxy battle.

In a statement Thursday, Snyder confirmed that “all directors are committed to continuing the sale process.”

Freddie Mac

Earnings expected to reflect large losses

Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac, emerging from an accounting scandal, said Thursday it expects to report third-quarter earnings of around $600 million that reflect substantial losses from the Gulf Coast hurricanes.

The government-sponsored company, the second-largest buyer and guarantor of home mortgages in the country, disclosed earlier this month that its profit for the first half of 2005 was some $220 million lower than originally reported because of computer errors.

Freddie Mac said it earned an estimated $2.1 billion in the first nine months of the year, down 19 percent from $2.6 billion in the same period in 2004.

Compiled from Knight Ridder Newspapers and The Associated Press