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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Starbucks liqueur concept 'forced' investor to sell

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Puget Sound Business Journal

Pax World Management Corp., a mutual fund operator that invests in socially and environmentally responsible companies, said it has sold 375,000 shares of Starbucks Corp. as a result of the coffee giant's deal with Jim Beam to sell alcoholic beverages.

The Portsmouth, N.H.-based fund company said in a press release Wednesday that it urged Starbucks CEO Orin Smith in mid-February to reconsider the deal that puts the Seattle company's name on a coffee liqueur.

"While we continue to admire and respect many aspects of Starbucks' business and corporate citizenship activities, the company essentially forced our hand in this matter, Pax officials said in a statement. "We have divested ourselves of these shares reluctantly and only after trying to get the company to reconsider its course of action."

Pax World said the shares were worth about $23.4 million as of Dec. 31. Starbucks said in its most recent quarterly report it had 415.3 million shares outstanding as of Jan. 2.

Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) and Jim Beam Brands Co. announced Feb. 17 that marketing tests of the high-end coffee liqueur they jointly developed were successful in Colorado and Texas, and that the concept would be launched nationwide.