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Originally published April 10, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 10, 2007 at 2:00 AM

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Business Digest

Starbucks roasting plant to be built in South Carolina

Pacific Northwest Starbucks will build a new roasting plant in South Carolina to better distribute coffee in the southeast U.S. The new 150,000-square-foot facility...

Starbucks will build a new roasting plant in South Carolina to better distribute coffee in the southeast U.S.

The new 150,000-square-foot facility will employ 160 full-time workers and is scheduled to open in 2009. The roasting plant will be built in the city of St. Matthews, about 15 miles southeast of Columbia.

Seattle-based Starbucks said it is still negotiating with state and local authorities about tax incentives and therefore can't say how much it's spending on the site. It will be Starbucks' smallest roasting facility because, unlike other locations, it won't handle distribution of other goods such as brewing machines and merchandise, spokeswoman Tara Darrow said.

Starbucks' largest plant, in York, Pa., measures 700,000 square feet. The company's other roasting plants are in Kent; Carson Valley, Nev.; and Amsterdam.


Wild Waves, parks deal is complete

A Florida-based real-estate investment trust said Monday it completed the acquisition of seven former Six Flags properties for $312 million, including Wild Waves & Enchanted Village in Federal Way.

CNL Income Properties acquired the theme parks in January from PARC 7F Operations for $290 million in cash and a note receivable for $22 million. CNL will lease the properties to PARC, which will operate the parks under long-term, triple-net lease agreements, CNL said Monday.

PARC acquired the properties from Six Flags in a related $312 million stock purchase immediately before the sale of the properties to CNL, the company said.

PARC managers said they want the parks to focus more on regional markets.

In addition to Wild Waves, the parks in the transaction are: Darien Lake in Buffalo, N.Y.; Elitch Gardens in Denver; Frontier City & White Water Bay in Oklahoma City; Splashtown in Houston; and Waterworld in Concord, Calif.



Railroad stocks up over Buffett's move

Railroad stocks rallied Monday on news that Warren Buffett, through his company Berkshire Hathaway, has bought 10.9 percent of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, according to regulatory filings. Berkshire also confirmed a CNBC report that it invested undisclosed sums in two other unnamed U.S. railroads.

Shares of Burlington Northern popped $5.36 to $88.08 on Monday, as investors celebrated the fact Berkshire Hathaway owned 39 million shares as of Thursday. Burlington Northern has the largest market value of any U.S. rail carrier, says Standard & Poor's Capital IQ.

The Buffett effect spread to other railroads and transportation companies. Union Pacific, the No. 2 railroad based on market value, gained $3.95 to $107.15, and No. 3 Norfolk Southern gained $1.91 to $52.89.


iPod sales hit 100 million mark

Apple sold 100 million iPod media players in the 5 1/2 years since Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs unveiled the device.

The sales make the iPod the fastest-selling music player in history, Apple said Monday. Jobs has introduced more than 10 models since October 2001, including the Mini, Nano, a video iPod and the Shuffle.

The tally means Apple likely sold about 11 million iPods in the second quarter, up from 8.53 million a year earlier. Analysts on average anticipated 11.1 million units, UBS analyst Benjamin Reitzes said, adding his own estimate had been for 12.2 million.

The company reports second-quarter results on April 25.

Sales of the iPod accounted for 48 percent of Apple's revenue in the holiday quarter. It is the best-selling music player in the U.S. with a more than 70 percent share of the market, according to the NPD Group.

SanDisk / Yahoo!

Wireless feature in music player

SanDisk and Yahoo! started selling a digital music player that lets users download songs wirelessly, a feature that Apple's rival iPod player lacks.

The Sansa Connect, which costs $249.99, accesses Yahoo's online music service without linking up to a computer, the companies said Monday.

"This will allow us to gain market share in this fast-growing market," SanDisk Chief Executive Officer Eli Harari said.

The new player is probably not different enough from the iPod to take away Apple's market share, NPD analyst Stephen Baker said. The Sansa Connect "really is about fighting among the other companies for [what's left over]."

Sansa Connect users can download unlimited music from Yahoo's Web site for a monthly fee, SanDisk said. They also can listen to Web radio, and store and view photos.

Dow Chemical

Buyout-bid report sends shares up

Shares of Dow Chemical rose almost 5 percent Monday after a British newspaper reported a group of Middle Eastern investors and U.S. buyout firms was preparing a bid for the huge chemicals and plastics maker.

But Dow Chemical said Monday it's not in discussions about a leveraged buyout.

The Sunday Express, a British tabloid, reported over the weekend that the group has secured financing backing for a $50 billion bid for the Midland, Mich.-based chemicals company. That would be the biggest leveraged buyout ever.

The Express reported the investment team, which includes private-equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, is preparing a bid of $52 to $58 per share. At the low end, that would be a 17 percent premium over Dow Chemical's closing stock price of $44.47 on Thursday. The market was closed on Good Friday.

Dow Chemical's stock jumped $2.16, or 4.9 percent, to $46.63 in regular trading Monday.


Details due on cuts and consolidation

Citigroup Chairman and Chief Executive Charles Prince said Monday he would release details of cost-cutting steps later this week, including the consolidation of some operations and moving others to lower-cost locations.

In a memo to employees made available to The Associated Press, Prince said the cuts were aimed at "eliminating expenses while advancing our core strategic growth objectives." The process, he said, "has been and will be challenging."

He sketched broad outlines of the overhaul, but said specifics would be released at a Web conference Wednesday. Prince indicated the cutbacks would be throughout Citigroup's operations worldwide.

Citigroup, the nation's largest financial institution, has more than 327,000 workers in more than 100 countries.

Media reports about the financial review, which has been under way since the fourth quarter, have said 26,000 workers could lose their jobs or be reassigned.

Cost savings could approach $2 billion a year, they said.

Compiled from Bloomberg News, The Associated Press and USA Today

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