Why Safeway's Concerned About Blockbuster's Liquidation Plans

At first glance, supermarket chain Safeway (SWY) would seem to have little to do with movie-rental company Blockbuster. But it turns out that Safeway owns several of the multiple-tenant shopping centers that contain Blockbuster stores slated for closure.

As a landlord, the supermarket has filed a motion to try to ensure that Blockbuster's liquidation plans don't disrupt neighboring businesses at Safeway-owned shopping centers and that the closing stores remain adequately maintained. The company wouldn't confirm where it filed the motion, but Home Media Magazine reported that the motion was filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, and that the properties are in California and Oregon.

"We're just trying to ensure that reasonable conditions are met," Safeway spokesman Brian Dowling says. He stressed that his company isn't suing Blockbuster and that "many" of Blockbuster's landlords have filed similar motions. Blockbuster representatives declined to respond to a request for comment from DailyFinance.

Blockbuster in September filed Chapter 11 as part of a plan to slash the company's debt from almost $1 billion to an estimated $100 million. The video-rental chain has been hurt by growing competition from companies like Netflix (NFLX), which stream DVDs through the Internet and deliver them through the mail, and Coinstar's (CSTR) DVD-kiosk division Redbox. Blockbuster also continues to struggle to pay off the debt it incurred when it spun off from former parent Viacom (VIA) in 2004.

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