Wednesday PM August 23rd, 2006

Western Gas Resources shareholders approve sale to Anadarko Petroleum... Galveston City Council selects Moody Gardens to manage municipal golf course...

Western Gas Resources shareholders have approved the sale of the company to Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum. Most Western Gas shareholders approved the deal to sell the Denver-based company to an Anadarko subsidiary for $4.7 million. Stockholders will get $61 a share in cash for each share of common stock. Anadarko is now poised to complete a $21.1 billion deal to create an independent energy exploration and production giant. Anadarko earlier this month purchased Oklahoma-City based Kerr McGee. Anadarko spokeswoman Teresa Wong says the company now hopes to finalize its purchase of Western Gas. Anadarko announced plans in June to buy both Western Gas and Kerr McGee to boost its oil and gas holdings in the Rocky Mountains and the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Federal and state regulators have approved the acquisition plans. Anadarko earlier this month closed on its more than $16 billion cash acquisition of Oklahoma City-based Kerr McGee.

Patriot Exploration, with offices in Houston and New York, has acquired 18,000 acres from Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum in Wyoming. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Houston chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators names its 2006 Executive Communicator of the Yearξthis weekξin a ceremony at Champions Pavilion in Minute Maid Park. YMCA of Greater Houston President and CEO Clark Baker is a past recipient. He says an executive is the voice of a company.

"You know, I decided a long time ago, Ed, you can't train 'happy' and you can't train 'smart.' What you can do is train 'strategy' so you normally have to take a person who has a communication gift, and then train to the strategies and skills of a very complicated media environment in which we find ourselves today. Ed: What makes a good communicator? A good communicator is someone who can tell the story, tell it with conviction and compassion. A good communicator is someone who can do it in person, do it on the phone, do it in writing, and who can share the excitement, the enthusiasm and the direction of a company or an organization to its community."

Baker won the 2005 IABC Communicator of the Year award. The YMCA is celebrating its 120th year in the Houston region. There are 40 YMCAs currently under construction in Greater Houston.

The Galveston City Council has selected Moody Gardens to manage the municipal golf course and transform the public links into a quasi-private club, according to the Galveston Daily News. It will take about several months to negotiate a management contract. Moody Gardens will spend between $3 and $6 million in capital improvements. Meanwhile, the council tomorrow will consider a proposal to extend the lease on Moody Gardens to 40 years—a 12-year extension—as a separate matter.

AT&T went to federal court in San Antonio today to identify 25 data brokers it says used fraud to get phone-calling records for about 2,500 customers. The San Antonio-based phone company says the unnamed data brokers pose as customers to get the phone records from the company--often for use in legal or domestic disputes. The company says the data brokers couldn't obtain social security numbers, driver's license numbers or financial or credit information. The company said filing the lawsuit would give it legal standing to identify the data brokers through e-mail and Internet protocol addresses. Once it identifies the data brokers, AT&T says it would seek court orders to bar them from tapping phone records. It also says it'll seek damages from the brokers, including return of any profits from selling customer information.

A services center that's now open in Houston is meant to help Hurricane Katrina evacuees recover more and return to Louisiana. The New Orleans Journey Home Center will offer information about affordable housing, schools, child care, job training, healthcare and small business development. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin told evacuees yesterday that his city is troubled--but ready to welcome them back. The center is run by Nagin's office and the City of Houston. Katrina hit the Gulf Coast last August 29th. Authorities have estimated as many as 250,000 Louisiana evacuees are still in Texas, with about 150,000 of them in Houston.

The housing market continues to chill. Sales of previously-owned homes plunged in July to the lowest level in two and a-half years. The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes and condos dropped 4.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of more than $6.3 million. In addition, the trade group says the supply of unsold homes rose to a new record. Other signs of a weaker market included the status of home prices. The median price of a home sold last month was $230,000. That's up just nine-tenths of one percent from a year earlier. It marks the smallest year-over-year increase since May 1995. The median price is the middle price point, where half sell for more and half sell for less.

A Venezuelan congressman says four major oil projects in the Orinoco River Basin should be under state control. Rodrigo Cabezas also warned that nationalizing the projects--is an option. Cabezas is president of the National Assembly's Finance Commission. President Hugo Chavez and other officials have said the Venezuelan government is seeking a controlling stake in joint ventures with foreign oil companies. The four projects are currently controlled by Irving-based Exxon Mobil, Houston-based ConocoPhillips and Chevron, as well as Norway's Statoil, France's Total SA and the United Kingdom-based BP. Venezuela's state oil company has minority stakes ranging from 30 percent to 49 percent in the ventures. Other oil fields in the country were brought under state-controlled joint ventures earlier this year.

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