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Originally published Friday, December 22, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Washington Banking cuts 20 positions to reduce costs

Washington Banking, the holding company for Whidbey Island Bank, is eliminating 20 jobs to trim $1.2 million in annual costs. The Oak Harbor company...

Washington Banking, the holding company for Whidbey Island Bank, is eliminating 20 jobs to trim $1.2 million in annual costs.

The Oak Harbor company is taking a $600,000 charge in the fourth quarter for severance packages and accelerated stock-option vesting, which is expected to reduce after-tax earnings per share by about 4 cents, the company said Wednesday.

Most of the 20 jobs are "back office and from all levels of the bank," the company said. It cited intense competition and slower economic growth.

Whidbey Island Bank operates 20 branches in five counties in Northwestern Washington.


Mobile executive is leaving Jan. 1


InfoSpace said Thursday that Stephen Davis, president of mobile and online media, will leave Jan. 1 to pursue other career opportunities.

Davis joined the Bellevue company in November 2005 to manage InfoSpace's mobile entertainment business. But since the company learned it will lose a major wireless customer next year, it started to cut back on mobile-content initiatives to focus on its online and mobile infrastructure businesses. As part of the restructuring, it will also lay off about 250 of its 670 employees. The position Davis holds will not be filled, InfoSpace said.

On Wednesday, InfoSpace appointed Bruce Easter as senior vice president and general counsel.


KLM will buy 3 737-800 jets

Boeing said Thursday that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines had exercised options for three 737-800 jets.

Three of the single-aisle, narrow-body planes carry a price tag of more than $200 million at list prices, although customers typically negotiate significant discounts. The jets are scheduled for delivery in 2008.

Boeing also said KLM was the previously unnamed company behind a recent order for an extended-range 777-300. The list price for that twin-engine, twin-aisle jet is $250 million.


Obesity-spray tests show progress

Nastech Pharmaceutical said Thursday that its nasal spray for obesity was well-tolerated and reduced patients' calorie intake in a small study of 24 patients.

The Bothell company said it identified doses for another upcoming trial of effectiveness and safety in 2007.

Nastech shares rose 2 cents Thursday to close at $15.71 a share.

Tut Systems

Motorola to buy Oregon company

Motorola has agreed to buy Tut Systems for $39 million to add video-distribution technology.

Motorola will pay $1.15 a share in cash for Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Tut. That's 19 percent more than Tut's 97-cent closing price Wednesday. The shares rose 16 cents, or 16.5 percent, to $1.13 Thursday.

Motorola is adding Tut's technology for encoding, processing and distributing video as it aims to sell more set-top boxes to service providers. Motorola, the biggest U.S. maker of cable-television set-top boxes and second-largest maker of mobile phones, is strengthening its video-hardware operations as wireless markets near saturation and handset prices drop.


Profit triples as prices rise

Micron Technology, the largest U.S. maker of computer memory chips, said first-quarter profit tripled, boosted by higher prices.

Net income rose to $192 million, or 25 cents a share, from $63 million, or 9 cents, a year earlier, the Boise, Idaho-based company said Thursday in a regulatory filing. Sales rose 16 percent to $1.58 billion in the period ended Nov. 30. Profit beat the 19-cent average of nine analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg News.

Prices for Micron's main product rose 15 percent in the quarter, boosting profitability.

The news came out after the close of regular stock trading Thursday. Micron's stock rose 64 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $14.13 in after-hours trading.


CEO exercises $12.8M in options

Costco Wholesale's chief executive didn't get a raise for the sixth straight year, but he exercised stock options worth more than $12 million, according to the company's proxy statement.

Issaquah-based Costco, the nation's largest wholesale-club operator, said President and CEO Jim Sinegal exercised options on 300,000 shares worth about $12.8 million in 2006.

That was a jump of more than $9 million in value from the 100,000 options Sinegal exercised in 2005, according to the proxy statement filed Wednesday. The filing did not say whether Sinegal sold the shares.

Sinegal collected $350,000 in salary. In October, he declined a $200,000 bonus after taking responsibility for errors in the company's stock-option grants to employees.

Nation and World


Raines' lawyer seeks documents

The lawyer for former Fannie Mae Chairman and Chief Executive Franklin Raines filed a motion in federal court Thursday demanding that the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) produce more than 300,000 pages of documents related to the company's operations that its top regulator has allegedly shielded as classified.

"For the past two years, OFHEO has reported to the public an incomplete and distorted portrait of the evidence regarding its allegations against Mr. Raines and others at Fannie Mae," Raines' attorney, Kevin Downey, wrote in a motion to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Downey accused OFHEO of refusing earlier court orders to produce documents from its past investigations into Fannie Mae, which restated $6.3 billion in earnings through mid-2004. OFHEO has filed administrative charges against Raines, a Seattle native and Clinton administration budget director, and two other former Fannie Mae executives for their actions while at the company, which the agency has said led to the accounting scandal.

Downey suggested that OFHEO publicly released only documents that supported its charges against Raines but withheld other records.

"OFHEO has produced some of the information that directly contradicts and undermines its core allegations against Mr. Raines, but, by virtue of its blanket confidentiality designation, OFHEO has prevented public discussion of this information by anyone but OFHEO," Downey wrote.

US Airways

Carrier presses its bid for Delta

US Airways' chief executive issued a scathing rebuke Thursday of Delta Air Lines' stand-alone reorganization plan and said he is more determined than ever to push ahead with his company's hostile bid to buy Delta.

Delta shot back that it hasn't changed its position that it wants to remain independent, intensifying the war of words that started when US Airways. disclosed its $8.4 billion offer to buy Delta Air Lines on Nov. 15.

US Airways CEO Doug Parker made it clear his company isn't going to back down.

Parker said Delta's projection that it will be worth as much as $12 billion when it emerges from bankruptcy as a stand-alone airline is "way out of whack."

Sony BMG

$4.25 million deal in software lawsuit

Sony BMG Music Entertainment will pay $4.25 million as part of a settlement with 39 states, including Washington, to resolve investigations into problems caused by music CDs loaded with hidden anti-piracy software.

Under terms of Thursday's agreement, the record company will reimburse consumers whose computers were damaged while trying to uninstall the anti-piracy software.

Sony BMG also said it will no longer distribute any compact discs loaded with copy-protection software that hinders computer users from easily finding it or removing it from their PCs.

The office of Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly took the lead in brokering the multistate agreement, which was expected to be filed Thursday in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston.

Thirteen states that started the settlement process with Sony BMG will each receive $316,538, while the rest will get $5,000, Reilly's office said.

New York-based Sony BMG, a joint venture of Sony and Germany's Bertelsmann, said it was pleased to reach the agreement.


Hedge funds make refinancing offers

Delphi has caught the eye of hedge funds that, flush with year-end cash, may be seeing a way to make a buck from the nation's largest auto-parts supplier as it emerges from bankruptcy.

Highland Capital Management on Thursday proposed up to $4.7 billion in refinancing in a letter to Delphi's board of directors.

It said it opposed a plan the company accepted Monday from an investor group led by Appaloosa Management LP and Cerberus Capital Management LP to spend up to $3.4 billion to help the company out of bankruptcy protection.

Highland Capital's plan envisions a $4.7 billion rights offering of unsubscribed shares open to all existing stockholders with more than 0.5 percent of the common shares.

Compiled from Bloomberg News, The Associated Press and Dow Jones Newswires

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