Pacific Northwest Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and Bloomberg News ...

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Pacific Northwest

Labor

Washington’s lowest-paid workers get a 3.8 percent raise on Monday when the state minimum wage increases 28 cents to $7.63 an hour.

The annual increase, required by an initiative approved by voters in 1998, is pegged to a federal inflation index.

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Washington’s minimum wage is the highest of any state. Workers in the city of San Francisco are paid a minimum of $8.50 an hour, though the wage floor in the rest of California is $6.75.

Microsoft

Gates increases stake in Berkshire

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates bought 30 shares of Berkshire Hathaway on Dec. 23 for about $2.7 million.

The purchase, on top of 50 shares he bought the day before, puts Gates’ one-week shopping spree in Warren Buffett’s company at about $7.1 million. Gates now owns 4,020 Class A shares in Berkshire Hathaway, according to a filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Gates owns company stock worth about $355 million based on Wednesday’s closing price of $88,500. He has purchased 440 shares in seven transactions since Aug. 31.

A friend of Buffett’s, Gates became a Berkshire director last December, when he filled a vacancy on the 11-member board left by Buffett’s wife, Susan, who died in July 2004.

Albertsons

Board supports CEO’s actions

Albertsons board said it supports Chief Executive Officer Larry Johnston after the grocery chain abandoned talks to sell the company last week.

“As the 11 independent members of the Albertsons Board of Directors, we continue to be unanimously supportive of our CEO Larry Johnston,” Albertsons board said in a statement Wednesday. “The board was in total agreement on every step of the process and after thorough consideration, unanimously agreed, voting 12 to 0, to reject the proposal.”

Albertsons last week turned down a bid by a group including Supervalu, CVS and investors Kimco Realty and Cerberus Capital Management to buy the struggling supermarket’s grocery stores and stand-alone drug business. The Idaho-based chain said it’s in talks on selling some of its underperforming assets.

The decision to halt the sale of the entire company sent the shares tumbling $2.74, or 12 percent, Dec. 23, the biggest plunge in two years. They recovered 56 cents over the subsequent two trading days, closing at $21.10 Wednesday.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and Bloomberg News