Longtime Seattle accountant Kevin Clark is taking the helm of Argosy Cruises, a privately held company he's been an investor in since 1993.

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Longtime Seattle accountant Kevin Clark is taking the helm of Argosy Cruises, a privately held company he’s been an investor in since 1993.


He’ll take over from John Blackman, who purchased the company with a partner in 1990 and added new tours of Lake Washington, expanded the Christmas Ships program, and expanded the fleet by eight vessels, including the 180-foot Royal Argosy in 2000.


Clark said the 56-year-old company, which has 75 permanent employees and hires about 225 more for the peak summer cruising season, has long been profitable.


Clark, a partner at Von Harten & Co., is increasing his ownership from 25 percent to 38 percent of Argosy, with the option to buy an additional 25 percent held by Blackman. The remaining interest is held by three other investors.


Esterline

Manufacturer


agrees to U.K. deal


Esterline, the Bellevue manufacturer of specialized aerospace parts, broadened its expertise in advanced materials Friday by agreeing to purchase Darchem Holdings of the U.K. for $120 million in cash.


Darchem’s primary business is designing and building materials capable of withstanding extreme temperatures, such as jet exhaust ducting and heat shields for commercial and military aerospace applications.


Darchem has 600 employees at two locations in the U.K., Stillington and Gloucester.

Weyerhaeuser

8 packaging,


bag plants closed


Weyerhaeuser said Friday that it would close eight packaging and bag plants.


A 200-employee plant in Plymouth, N.C., capable of making 350,000 tons of paper a year for boxes, will be closed permanently, Weyerhaeuser said. The company also will close box plants in Bedford Heights, Ohio; Elmira Heights, N.Y.; Little Rock, Ark.; Matthews, N.C.; Pulaski, Tenn.; and Waco, Texas; and a bag plant in Kansas City, Mo. It didn’t identify the number of employees affected at these sites.


Chief Executive Officer Steven Rogel has pledged to turn around ailing businesses such as the paper and the box businesses, Weyerhaeuser’s two least-profitable segments in the past two years.


Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and Bloomberg News



Nation/World



Pacific Northwest

Delta Air Lines

68 Sea-Tac workers


to be laid off in Feb.


Delta Air Lines is laying off 68 customer-service workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, effective in February, according to a filing with the state’s Employment Security Department.


The Atlanta-based carrier is operating under bankruptcy protection. The company said last month it was losing $5 million a day and planned to cut 7,000 to 9,000 more nonunion jobs as part of a restructuring plan. A Delta spokesman did not return a phone message late Friday.


Microsoft

Software business


in N.Y. purchased


Microsoft bought a small New York-based software and consulting business called UMT that specializes in portfolio-management products, the companies announced Friday.


UMT’s products will become part of Microsoft’s Office portfolio. It’s unclear where UMT’s 100 employees will be based. It employs software developers in Bucharest, Romania, and consultants in London as well as New York, but UMT spokesman Brian Scully said no jobs will be lost. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.


Nation and World

Ameritrade

Borrowed cash to go


to board, top execs


OMAHA, Neb. — More than a third of the nearly $2 billion online brokerage Ameritrade plans to borrow to pay for its latest acquisition will go directly to the company’s board and top executives in dividends.


Yet despite the increase in borrowing needed to help pay the $6 per share special dividend — offered to encourage shareholders to approve the deal — analysts said this week that Ameritrade’s acquisition of competitor TD Waterhouse Group’s U.S. retail-securities business is still a good deal.


Ameritrade expects to lead the online brokerage industry in trades after the acquisition with an average of 239,000 trades a day, building on its roughly 25 percent share of the active investor market. Charles Schwab Corp. reported an average 194,000 trades a day and E-Trade had 125,000 a day.


Hollinger International

Ex-press baron


pleads not guilty


A judge set a March 2007 date for Conrad Black’s fraud and racketeering trial after the former newspaper tycoon pleaded not guilty Friday to new charges in the alleged plundering of more than $84 million from Hollinger International, the company he once controlled.


Black, who was charged a day earlier on counts of racketeering, obstruction of justice, money laundering and wire fraud, refused to discuss the expanded him after his second arraignment in two weeks. He offered a terse, “It’ll be an interesting trial” before returning home to Toronto.


If convicted on all counts, the former press baron faces a maximum sentence of 95 years in prison, $7 million in fines and forfeiture of more than $92 million that U.S. government prosecutors allege was obtained fraudulently.


Southern Union

Family agrees to sell


pipeline company


The Bass family, long synonymous with oil and wealth in Texas, has agreed to sell one of its last holdings in the oil and gas industry, the pipeline company Sid Richardson Energy Services, for $1.6 billion in cash to the natural-gas distributor Southern Union.


The deal announced Friday will give natural-gas distributor Southern Union one of the nation’s largest networks of gas pipelines, at more than 22,000 miles crisscrossing the Gulf of Mexico, the Southwest, the Midwest and Canada. Southern Union already operates pipelines in 17 states.

Bank of America

Direct-deposit glitch


has been repaired


Bank of America said on Friday that it had corrected a glitch that caused payroll checks and other direct-deposit items for an unspecified number of customers to not be credited to their accounts. The bank apologized to customers who were inconvenienced.


The bank said a problem with an automated clearinghouse delayed the posting of some direct deposits at Bank of America and other banks, primarily in the Northeast.


Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and The Associated Press