Washington Mutual is among the banks asked by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to provide information about its...

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Washington Mutual is among the banks asked by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to provide information about its mortgage-lending practices, a bank spokeswoman said.


“We are working on our response to it,” said spokeswoman Libby Hutchinson.


Spitzer’s office said it is investigating whether lenders discriminated against minority borrowers and seniors by charging excessive interest rates. The probe was triggered by loan-pricing data recently released under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.


Others contacted by Spitzer include Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.


WaMu gained a big presence in the New York market in 2002 when it bought Dime Bancorp.


HouseValues



Kirkland company to add 130 workers

Kirkland-based HouseValues said it plans to hire more than 130 employees during the current quarter.


HouseValues helps real-estate agents generate business through relationship-management tools and services aimed at generating leads.


The hiring spree would bring the company’s head count to nearly 500 employees. The company said it is looking for employees in every department, including customer service, sales, marketing and technology. All of the job openings are local.


Amazon.com



Lawsuit settled for $20 million

Amazon.com agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it misled investors in February 2000 when it sold 690 million euros ($681 million) of debt.


The company earlier this month agreed to the settlement of the lawsuit that claimed the Internet retailer and its executives made false or misleading statements in connection with the sale of 6.875 percent convertible notes. The Seattle-based company announced the terms of the agreement in a filing yesterday at the Securities and Exchange Commission.


The agreement follows one last month that settled a similar lawsuit costing the company $27.5 million to end the claims. The suit alleged the online retailer made false and misleading statements to help fund its growth.


Amazon said it expects most of the settlements will be covered by its insurers after they are approved by a court. The company denied wrongdoing in both lawsuits.


Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, Bloomberg News and Reuters



Nation/World



Pacific Northwest



Nextel Partners



Quarterly profit hits record $56.5 million

Nextel Partners said yesterday that it recorded a record profit of $56.5 million in the first quarter, a more than 15-fold jump from $3.5 million in the year-ago period when it reported its first profit.


The Kirkland company has been profitable for five consecutive quarters. Nextel Partners has the exclusive right to sell Nextel-branded service in small towns and rural areas.


“We believe that there remains a significant opportunity for growth in the markets we serve,” said Nextel Partners Chief Executive John Chapple.


First-quarter revenue increased 31.1 percent to $404 million from $308.1 million a year ago. Contributing to the company’s results was the addition of 99,400 subscribers during the first quarter. It ended the quarter with 1.7 million. It also maintained an average monthly revenue per subscriber of $67.


Boeing



Union challenges policy in Wichita

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) filed an unfair-labor-practices charge Tuesday over Boeing’s plan to classify employees at the Wichita commercial division as voluntarily resigning if they choose not to accept a job with the investment firm that hopes to buy the plant.


SPEEA said such workers should be classified as laid off and so retain eligibility for unemployment benefits. Officials at SPEEA and the International Association of Machinists are negotiating with Canadian investment firm Onex and Boeing over the impact of the sale.


Cingular Wireless



4 more workers to be cut, state told

Cingular Wireless filed a notice with the state saying it is laying off four employees in Washington this week.


That brings the total layoffs in the state to 680 since the company acquired AT&T Wireless of Redmond last year.


Cingular, of Atlanta, expected to cut about 7,000 jobs, or about 10 percent of its work force. During the first quarter, the company reported that it laid off 4,700 employees nationwide, accounting for more than two-thirds of its goals. With the layoffs this week, Cingular has cut proportionally more people in Washington, having given notice to 12 percent of the 5,700 former AT&T Wireless employees in the state.


Cascade Natural Gas



Firm sold 123,000 shares too many

Cascade Natural Gas said it had issued too many shares to certain investors in the past two years, exceeding the number it had registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


Cascade, a natural-gas distributor, said it sold an excess of 123,000 shares under its automatic-dividend-reinvestment plan, or “DRIP,” at prices between $19.07 and $22.07 a share.


Cascade is considering whether to repurchase the shares at market prices, General Counsel Richard Swanson said, but no decision has been made.


Seattle Genetics



Licensing deal struck with MedImmune

Seattle Genetics said it has signed a licensing deal granting MedImmune rights to use its antibody-drug-linking technology in research against a single biological marker of cancer.


The deal calls for MedImmune to pay $2 million upfront, plus milestone payments and royalties if it can develop the technology into a product.


Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and The Associated Press