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Blockbuster OK'd to Sell Taiwan Stores

2 Jan, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Blockbuster Inc. has received clearance from Taiwan regulators to sell 128 franchise and company-owned stores in that country to a Taiwanese Web portal.

The potential sale of Blockbuster stores to Webs-TV Digital International was submitted to the Fair Trade Commission of Taiwan in November for approval.

The news at the time sent shares of the Dallas-based video rental chain above the $5 mark for the first time in 52 weeks.

Blockbuster spokeswoman Karen Raskopf said the Taiwanese stores would continue to operate under the Blockbuster brand. She said the company would not provide further details on the transaction until it was finalized.

Last month, Blockbuster CFO Larry Zine said the company would increase consolidation efforts abroad in 2007 after largely focusing on the U.S. market since 2005.

Blockbuster reportedly has about 2,600 international store locations — representing about 25% of overall revenues — operating in the United Kingdom, Brazil and Canada.

Separately, four Blockbuster executives before and after Christmas collectively cashed in more than $1 million in stock options under prearranged trading plans, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

CFO Zine exercised 99,908 shares of common stock at $5.07 per share for $506,933.

Christopher Wyatt, who was EVP of international operations until his dismissal in July, exercised 47,825 shares for $242,664. Fellow EVPs Nicholas Shepherd and Frank Paci exercised 33,612 shares and 21,035 shares, respectively, for $170,547 and $106,731 each.

The executives collectively still hold more than 920,000 shares of Blockbuster common stock.

Blockbuster shares closed Dec. 29 at $5.29 per share. The market was closed Jan. 2 in respect for the passing of former President Gerald Ford.

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