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    Giant's Acridge Steps Down

    Questions surface about tapping company funds for personal loan.

    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jim Acridge, founder and longtime head of independent refiner/marketer Giant Industries Inc., is stepping down as questions concerning a personal loan are popping up.

    According to The [Mesa, Ariz.] Tribune, Acridge's impending departure was revealed as the company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $5.7 million compared to same-quarter earnings of $625,000 one year.

    While company officials did not publicly attribute the loss to Acridge's loan, Giant did establish a $5.4 million pre-tax reserve to cover the full amount of the loan, which was made in 1998. In Acridge's place, Giant named Fred Holliger, the company's chief operating officer, as chairman and chief executive officer.

    "Jim and the board came to a parting of the ways regarding how to move the company forward," said Giant COO Mark Cox. He added that the loan was taken out about the time Acridge formed the partnership Pinnacle Sonoran Properties to purchase Western theme park Rawhide. Rawhide is managed by Acridge's son, a Rawhide spokeswoman said.

    Cox said Acridge's departure had nothing to do with the loan.

    As for the company, Cox said said Giant's short-term goals are to complete the purchase of a refinery in Yorktown, Va., divest several unprofitable service stations, and "optimize the assets we have now and get them to their most profitable," according to The Tribune.

    In addition to Holliger, Giant board named Morgan Gust, executive vice president, president. Both Holliger and Gust men have worked under Acridge for more than a dozen years.

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