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Cell Therapeutics

Auditor is latest

to leave company

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Cell Therapeutics said Grant Thornton resigned as its independent auditor, extending a string of departures from the struggling cancer-drug research company.

The Seattle based biotech said there were no disagreements over accounting principles, disclosures or auditing procedures.

Last month, four of the company’s directors submitted their resignations after failing to oust Chief Executive James Bianco. The departures come after Cell Therapeutics’ leading drug candidate failed in a key trial this spring.

TRM

Travelex UK

will be acquired

TRM, a provider of automated-teller machines and photocopiers for retailers, agreed to buy a unit of Travelex UK for 43.4 million pounds ($79.5 million) to increase its presence in the United Kingdom.

TRM, which is based in Portland, will have more than 7,500 automated-teller machines in the U.K. after the acquisition is completed by the end of the year, the company said in a statement.

Nation / World

Bank of America

SEC action will be

recommended

Bank of America disclosed yesterday that the Securities and Exchange Commission staff plans to recommend enforcement action against its brokerage unit because of improper stock trading.

In a regulatory filing, the company said the agency has been conducting a formal investigation into trading and research at Banc of America Securities, specifically events at its San Francisco office between 1999 and 2002.

Bank of America had said in March that the SEC staff was considering recommending action.

Eloise Hale, a Banc of America Securities spokeswoman, yesterday said, “We disagree with the SEC conclusions and intend to contest the staff’s recommendation.”

She said the company has cooperated with the SEC.

Airlines

Katrina cited

as fares increase

U.S. airlines raised fares as Hurricane Katrina drove jet-fuel prices higher and shortened the time Northwest Airlines said it has to avoid bankruptcy.

United Airlines, the second-largest carrier, raised round-trip fares $10 to $30, depending on the length of the trip, said spokesman David Dimmer. The increase includes leisure, business and international fares.

Delta Air Lines, the third-largest U.S. carrier, matched United in several markets, and Delta and Continental Airlines put in separate round-trip increases of $10 on routes with low-cost carriers, company spokeswomen said. Continental is the fifth-largest U.S. carrier.

“Fuel is going up; it’s about time somebody made a move,” said Terry Trippler, who monitors fares for the online travel Web site CheapSeats.com. “They’ve got to raise” fares. Airlines have increased fares several times this year, he said.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, Bloomberg News and Dow Jones Newswires