Pacific Northwest Venture-capital investing in the first quarter fell both in Washington state and nationwide compared with the fourth quarter...

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Venture-capital investing in the first quarter fell both in Washington state and nationwide compared with the fourth quarter of 2004, according to the MoneyTree Survey being released today.



The survey is compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Thomson Venture Economics and the National Venture Capital Association, and differs in methodology from the venture-capital report issued yesterday by VentureOne and Ernst & Young.


The MoneyTree Survey found that 26 Washington companies received $110 million in the first quarter compared with 27 companies that raised $160.8 million in the previous period. Nationwide, 674 companies received $4.63 billion in the latest quarter, down from $5.44 billion raised by 776 companies in the prior quarter.


AccessLine Communications



Bellevue VoIP firm raises $9 million

Bellevue-based AccessLine Communications said yesterday it raised $9 million in venture capital. Investors included Mellon Ventures, Venrock Associates, Gabriel Venture Partners, Goldman Sachs and Alexander Hutton Venture Partners.


The money will go toward developing its voice-over Internet protocol services (VoIP) that it sells to business customers. VoIP uses the Internet to provide phone service with more features at a lower cost than traditional phone service.


The company previously had raised more than $100 million in capital.


Global Market Insite



Software maker gets 2nd-round funding

Global Market Insite (GMI) said yesterday that it raised $13.2 million in venture capital to further develop its market-research software.


Investors included Seattle-based Voyager Capital and FTVentures. Before the second round of funding, the Mercer Island company had raised $2.5 million.


GMI’s software helps conduct research in different languages and countries in real time over the Internet to understand consumer trends. The company has 97 employees. It also has 40 open positions, a third of which are on Mercer Island.


Corus Pharma



Patients enrolling in final-stage trial

Corus Pharma, a Seattle biotech company, said patients have started enrolling in a final-stage clinical trial of its inhalable drug for cystic fibrosis.


The trial is expected to involve about 250 patients at 50 cystic-fibrosis centers in the United States. The study will measure whether the antibiotic can slow down the deadly lung disease, make patients breathe better and improve their quality of life.


Compiled from Seattle Times staff


Nation/World



Genentech



Drug shows promise in early breast cancer

Genentech said yesterday that its breast-cancer treatment Herceptin showed promise in treating the early stages of a certain type of the disease, the latest positive drug news to emerge from a biotechnology company whose stock has surged nearly 40 percent in the last year.


Herceptin already was approved to treat the sickest breast-cancer patients, and the company said yesterday it will discuss with federal regulators the possibility of prescribing the drug for more breast-cancer patients. The company announced the news after stock markets closed yesterday.


In after-hours trading, Genentech’s stock was up $2.27 a share, or 3.3 percent, to $71.70, nearing the company’s 52-week high.


Genentech recently surpassed the market capitalization of Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company in terms of sales. Genentech’s market capitalization was $73.1 billion yesterday, $300 million more than Amgen’s.


Valero Energy



Oil refiner to buy Premcor for billions

Valero Energy’s $6.9 billion purchase of Premcor — a deal that would create the largest oil refiner in North America — comes as high prices drive up the industry’s profit margins.


Analysts said Valero’s move is unlikely to offer immediate help to motorists weary of paying more than $2 a gallon for gasoline.


But company officials pledged to improve efficiency and capacity at the four refineries it is buying, which could eventually ease pressure on prices.


Valero hopes to complete the cash and stock deal by Dec. 31, but it could face regulatory hurdles because both Valero and Premcor operate large refineries in the Northeast.


Qwest



Company expects 1st-quarter profit

Qwest, which bid $9.75 billion for MCI, said it expects to report a first-quarter profit on an asset sale and said revenue was little changed.


Net income is coming from a $250 million gain on the sale of assets to Verizon Wireless, Qwest said yesterday. The company was expected to have a loss, excluding certain items, of 10 cents a share, or $203.1 million, the average estimate of 23 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. Qwest didn’t provide specific profit and sales results; it is scheduled to report full results next Tuesday.


Qwest seeks to assure investors it’s performing as expected after the MCI board deemed its bid superior to Verizon’s $7.62 billion offer. The profit would be the first in five quarters; Qwest’s sales have declined for more than three years as clients switched to cellphones and disconnected local lines.


Constellation Brands



Buyout offer weighed by winemaker

U.S. winemaker Constellation Brands said yesterday that it is considering making an offer to rival last week’s $14.2 billion buyout proposal for British liquor company Allied Domecq from France’s Pernod Ricard.


Constellation, the world’s largest winemaker with brands like Almaden, Inglenook, Hardys and Ravenswood, said it is “at an early stage of evaluating its options with a number of potential partners” about a possible offer for Allied Domecq.


Allied last week recommended that shareholders accept a $14.2 billion takeover offer from its smaller, Paris-based rival Pernod in a deal that will make the combined entity the second-largest liquor company and a more serious challenger to world leader Diageo, which has brands including Guinness stout and Johnnie Walker scotch.


Compiled from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News