Pacific Northwest A Whatcom County judge has dismissed the remaining claim in a lawsuit brought by the Bellingham-Whatcom County Multiple...

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A Whatcom County judge has dismissed the remaining claim in a lawsuit brought by the Bellingham-Whatcom County Multiple Listing Service against the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) in Kirkland. Both organizations track real-estate activity.


The Bellingham group’s suit accused the NWMLS of violation of antitrust laws and breach of contract, contending it was trying to drive the smaller Bellingham listing service out of business.


Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Steven Mura dismissed the Bellingham group’s claim that the NWMLS was attempting to monopolize the real-estate-listing business, in violation of state consumer-protection law. The Bellingham firm voluntary withdrew its other claims.


Tesoro



Refiner to upgrade Anacortes plant

Tesoro, the second-largest crude-oil refiner on the West Coast, plans to invest $175 million for “crude flexibility” at its refinery in Anacortes, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The upgrade is expected to be completed by April 2007.


The San Antonio company also plans to spend $56 million to improve fuel yields at the Anacortes refinery.


Amazon.com



Retailer to review electronics sellers

Amazon.com will start putting some merchants through a more-rigorous approval process that will cut the number of sellers offering digital cameras, TVs and computers.


Only preapproved sellers will be allowed to list certain electronics items on its site, Amazon of Seattle said in a Web posting Tuesday. Amazon will consider several factors, including a merchant’s sales history, customer rating and refund rate, before allowing it to offer products.


Microsoft



MSN purchases MessageCast

Microsoft’s MSN division said yesterday that it has acquired the assets of MessageCast, which provided automated alerting and messaging technology. MSN has used MessageCast since 2003 for its free MSN Alerts service, which can send news alerts to users through the MSN Messenger program, e-mail or through a mobile device.


MSN didn’t say how much it paid for MessageCast, which is based in Redwood City, Calif., and was founded in early 2002.


Microsoft



Launch date nears for MSN China

Microsoft said yesterday that it formed a joint venture with Shanghai Alliance Investment to launch Web portal MSN China later this spring.


Microsoft offers its MSN Messenger instant-messaging service and the MSN Hotmail e-mail service in Chinese but said the new venture will deliver more comprehensive communications and information.


Microsoft also said it plans to acquire certain assets of Chinese mobile-software-and-services company TSSX.


Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, Bloomberg, The Associated Press and Reuters



Nation/World


Blockbuster



Icahn now wants CEO to stay on

DALLAS — Billionaire financier Carl Icahn and two allies apparently won seats on Blockbuster’s board of directors yesterday, and Icahn’s first move was to seek to retain John Antioco, whom he had just ousted as chairman of the nation’s biggest movie-rental chain.


Icahn, Blockbuster’s largest shareholder, did not attend the meeting, but a representative said he would propose adding a seat on the board for Antioco and making him chairman.


Antioco declined to answer questions from reporters, including whether he would accept Icahn’s offer to stay. He could quit and receive a full severance package, including early vesting of stock awards, according to the company. That is the scenario that prompted Icahn to call for Antioco’s retention. The company estimated Antioco’s severance would be worth $54 million at Blockbuster’s current stock price.


EADS



Board fails to pick new top managers

European Aeronautic, Defence & Space said Chairmen Arnaud Lagardere and Manfred Bischoff will serve as co-chief executive officers until next month, after its board failed to pick a new slate of top managers, including someone to run Airbus, the company’s largest division.


The board didn’t reach any decisions on management during a seven-hour session after the annual shareholder meeting in Amsterdam, EADS said in an e-mail statement yesterday.


EADS has been seeking to name a new leader for Airbus since December, when the company’s French shareholders, Lagardere and the French government, announced that they had chosen Noël Forgeard, 58, the CEO of Airbus, to become the French co-chief executive of EADS.


Microsoft



Massachusetts sues global spam ring

Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly filed suit yesterday against an Internet spam ring operating near Boston, using information obtained by Microsoft in its fight against unsolicited e-mail.


Reilly and Microsoft said the lawsuit against seven individuals and two companies details their efforts to promote various products through “hundreds of millions” of spam messages sent to people worldwide from domain names registered in Monaco, Australia and France.


“I think it’s one of the largest and almost certainly the single-most-sophisticated international spamming operation we’ve seen,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief lawyer.


Compiled from The Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg News