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Originally published Wednesday, October 4, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Another downtown Seattle apartment building is going condo

Seattle-based Wysong Group said Tuesday it has bought the Empress Building and plans to convert its 88 apartments into condominiums...

Pacific Northwest

Wysong Group

Seattle-based Wysong Group said Tuesday it has bought the Empress Building and plans to convert its 88 apartments into condominiums, with prices likely starting at about $180,000. The six-story building, on Fifth Avenue between Yesler Way and South Washington Street, also will get a new name: Tobira Condominiums.

Wysong officials said apartment residents will be given the opportunity to buy the condos at a discounted rate before they are put up for sale in early 2007.

Mountain Pacific Bank

IPO raises $16.5 million

Mountain Pacific Bank, which opened in Everett in late July, said Tuesday it raised $16.5 million in an initial stock offering.

Letters went out in June to about 800 people offering shares in the new bank for $10 each, with a minimum investment of $25,000. The bank raised $13 million by its opening and extended the offer until mid-September, allowing it to raise the additional $3.5 million.

Mountain Pacific is headed by three former presidents of other local banks. It said in a statement that the amount raised is more than any other by a startup bank outside of King County


CEO foresees cuts in subsidiary

Freightliner CEO Chris Patterson says he expects a decline in heavy-truck demand that probably will mean job cuts for the DaimlerChrysler subsidiary, which began offering voluntary buyouts Monday.

The commercial-truck manufacturer offered the buyouts to its white-collar work force, including 1,900 at its Portland headquarters.

Freightliner also is likely to lay off manufacturing workers at all of its North American plants in coming months, Patterson said in an interview with The Oregonian newspaper.

The company's backlog of orders next year is thin, and there are signs the economy is slowing, Patterson said.


Pacific Northwest

Filson Holdings

Patagonia exec to run company

Filson Holdings said it hired former Patagonia executive Bill Kulczycki to run its outdoor apparel company, C.C. Filson.

Kulczycki replaces Doug Williams, a former Ralph Lauren Polo executive, who purchased the company with Santa Monica, Calif.-based investment firm Brentwood Associates in January 2005.

Williams will become chairman of the company's board of directors.

Kulczycki worked for Patagonia for 17 years, serving the last seven years as vice president of business development for Patagonia International.


SES gets $70 million over Connexion

Boeing is paying $70 million to satellite broadcaster SES Global as part of its plan to end its Connexion in-flight Internet service.

Boeing in August said it was scrapping Connexion after failing to find enough customers. Boeing planned to use SES Global, the world's largest satellite broadcaster, to help provide in-flight Internet service to 5,000 jets. When Boeing decided to end the venture, only 146 planes had Connexion.


Czech airline orders 2 narrow-body 737s

Boeing said Tuesday that Czech airline Travel Service had ordered two of its narrow-body 737-900ERs and holds purchase rights for two additional jets.

The latest version of Boeing's popular single-aisle airplane, the 737-900ER sells for between $70 million and $80.5 million at list prices, although airlines typically negotiate discounts.

Nation and World


Handheld game ups profit outlook

Nintendo on Tuesday raised its profit outlook for the fiscal year ending in March due to robust sales of its Nintendo DS handheld game machine and software.

The Japanese maker of game machines and Mario and Pokémon video games also said it expects its new console, Wii, to drive earnings higher in the second half of the year.

Wii (pronounced "wee") is the successor to Nintendo's GameCube, which lost out in the earlier home-console battle to Sony's PlayStation 2 and Microsoft's Xbox.

Nintendo, with U.S. headquarters in Redmond, is offering Wii at a relatively affordable $250, undercutting Sony's and Microsoft's successor models, also due to be released in the next several months.


Housing slowdown predicted to spread

Housing prices, slumping after a five-year boom, are projected to decline in more than 100 of the nation's metropolitan areas, with the Northeast, Florida and California among the areas hardest hit.

The forecast by Moody's, a private research firm, presents one of the starkest views yet of the housing slowdown that has been gathering force in recent months.

The forecasting firm projects that the median sales price for an existing home will decline in 2007 by 3.6 percent, which would be the first decline for an entire year in home prices since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The forecast is included in a 195-page report, "Housing at the Tipping Point," which The Associated Press obtained before its general release today.


Namibia gives bail to fugitive ex-CEO

The fugitive former CEO of software company Comverse Technology was granted bail by a Namibian court Tuesday while he awaits extradition to the United States to face charges for allegedly manipulating stock options.

Jacob "Kobi" Alexander was granted bail of about $1.3 million, his lawyer Richard Metcalfe said, on condition that he is not allowed to leave the district of Namibia's capital, Windhoek.

Alexander was arrested Sept. 26 in Windhoek at the request of the FBI after a two-month manhunt.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press

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