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Thursday, March 29, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Starbucks stock helps Schultz buy Sonics

Seattle Times business staff and news services

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SEATTLE - Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz has agreed to sell about 20 percent of his stock in the Seattle coffee company to finance his portion of the $200 million purchase of the Seattle Sonics basketball team from the Ackerley Group.

The sale is expected to close tomorrow, with ownership transferring to the Basketball Club of Seattle, the group of investors who purchased the NBA team. Schultz is the largest investor in the group.

Schultz will sell 1.7 million shares of Starbucks stock in what are called variable prepaid forward contracts. The arrangement calls for Schultz to sell the shares at a predetermined price and date three years in the future. The move allows him to maintain voting rights connected with the stock and to gain in any upside potential for Starbucks stock.

If Schultz sold the stock now, it would be worth about $70 million based on the closing price yesterday of $41.19 a share.

Tommy Hilfiger store to open downtown

SEATTLE - Tommy Hilfiger, known for its bold red, white and blue casual clothes for men and boys, is opening a downtown Seattle store.

The New York-based Hilfiger, which also makes products for women and girls as well as home furnishings, will fill a large vacancy in the Pacific Place shopping center.

Pacific Place officials confirmed the store would open in June. The store will occupy a 6,742-square-foot spot vacated by J. Peterman, a clothing and home-furnishings chain that closed in December due to financial problems.

Alaska Airlines wins recognition for ethics

SEATTLE - Business Ethics magazine named Alaska Airlines one of the nation's most socially responsible corporations, notwithstanding lawsuits and federal investigations against the airline.

Alaska ranked No. 91 on the magazine's annual list of 100 best corporate citizens, measured by their profitability and how well they serve employees, customers and other stakeholders. Alaska joined Starbucks (No. 25) and Nordstrom (No. 45) as one of three Seattle-based companies to make the list.

The magazine's rankings are done by the Boston College Carroll School of Management and social-research firm Kinder, Lydenberg & Domini. Alaska made the list even though federal authorities are investigating the cause of last year's crash of Flight 261, as well as allegations that Alaska managers falsified maintenance records.

The researchers said the rankings were not about recognizing unblemished corporations but those that made progress in stakeholder treatment.

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