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Boeing’s engineers in Wichita, Kan., rejected the company’s contract offer Monday with a 71 percent vote, just days after their colleagues in the Pacific Northwest accepted a separate deal. A strike remains unlikely.


About 800 engineers in Boeing’s Wichita defense unit are represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA). Only about 340 of those are paid-up members of the union.


Following a recommendation by the union leadership, upset mostly by the salary offer, the vote was 209 to 86 to reject.


A strike would require a further vote, but that’s not being contemplated. SPEEA’s Midwest director, Bob Brewer, said he expects to resume talks with the company soon.


“We’re not that far apart,” Brewer said. “Our goal is to get this completed prior to the winter holiday break.”

Safeco

Director Campbell resigns from board


Phyllis Campbell resigned last week from the board of Safeco. Campbell, who is president and CEO of The Seattle Foundation, promised the charity’s executive committee about a year ago that she would pare her board commitments from four to three publicly traded companies.


She has been on the Safeco board since 1994 and still sits on the boards of Alaska Air Group, Nordstrom and Puget Sound Energy.


Campbell’s Safeco directorship expired earlier this year, but she agreed to stay while the insurer sought a replacement for current CEO Mike McGavick, who is leaving Safeco to run for the U.S. Senate.


The company is expected to name a replacement for McGavick any day now.


Potlatch

Firm names CEO from Plum Creek


Spokane-based lumber-and-paper maker Potlatch said Plum Creek Timber Vice President Michael Covey will take over as Potlatch’s chief executive starting on Feb. 6.


Covey, 48, will succeed L. Pendleton Siegel, 63, the company’s chairman and chief executive since 1999, Potlatch said. Siegel will remain chairman until the end of 2006.


Potlatch’s board approved a plan in September to convert the company into a real-estate investment trust on Jan. 1. Covey in 1999 helped convert Seattle-based Plum Creek into a publicly traded REIT.


ID Biomedical


Court decision due on Glaxo purchase


ID Biomedical expects a decision by 9 a.m. today from the British Columbia Supreme Court on its proposed acquisition by GlaxoSmithKline.


The Canadian vaccine maker, which employs about 100 people in Bothell, said Monday the transaction, worth about $1.4 billion, has passed muster under the Investment Canada Act.


The company expects the deal to close this month.

Microsoft

Dates announced for Xbox 360 in Asia


Microsoft’s Xbox 360 video-game console will come out in several Asian countries early next year, months after it is released in Japan, the software maker said Monday.


Microsoft said the second version of its Xbox console will be available Feb. 24 in South Korea and March 2 in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.


The Xbox 360 is due out Saturday in Japan — a key test for the company, since the first Xbox failed to gain a foothold there against Sony’s PlayStation 2.


Xbox 360 was released Nov. 22 in North America and Dec. 2 in Europe.


Separately, a Chicago man who bought an Xbox 360 has sued Microsoft, saying the console has a design flaw that causes it to overheat and freeze up.


The proposed class-action suit, brought by Robert Byers, was filed Friday in federal court in Illinois.


Microsoft spokeswoman Molly O’Donnell said Monday the company does not comment on pending litigation.


Intel


$1 billion investment planned for India


Chip maker Intel will invest more than $1 billion in the next five years to expand its operations in India and in local technology companies, Chairman Craig Barrett said Monday.


The investment by the world’s largest computer-chip maker will include a $250 million venture-capital fund Intel has created for investing in Indian companies that can benefit from rapid growth in that nation’s information-technology market, Barrett said in a statement.


Intel has a design center in Bangalore, India’s technology hub, where it employs some 3,000 engineers and professionals to develop products at a fraction of U.S. costs. It will invest $800 million to expand its research and development center there, Barrett said.


He also said Intel is in talks with the Indian government about building a chip-making facility in the country, Dow Jones Newswires reported.


General Motors

Auto loans to be sold to Canadian bank


General Motors’ GMAC financial-services unit said Monday it has agreed to sell up to $20 billion in U.S. auto loans to Scotia Capital, the corporate and investment banking arm of The Bank of Nova Scotia.


Terms were not disclosed.


The agreement will allow GMAC to redeploy its assets into its more lucrative mortgage and insurance businesses, spokeswoman Joanne Krell said. It also will help GMAC access funding.


GMAC was hurt in May when Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services and Fitch Ratings downgraded both GM and GMAC’s debt to “junk” status, increasing borrowing costs.


The Scotia deal will help GMAC as it tries to get its rating upgraded.


Under the agreement, the Bank of Nova Scotia will buy up to $20 billion in auto loans over a five-year period ending in October 2010. The bank will make an initial purchase of $3 billion this month.


GMAC will continue to service the contracts. The Bank of Nova Scotia will hold the loans and sell them to investors.

Calpine

NYSE pulling plug on power company


The New York Stock Exchange said Monday it plans to delist Calpine in a move reflecting Wall Street’s dismay as the debt-plagued power merchant considers bankruptcy.


The decision represents the investment community’s latest snub of a company whose shares have been eroding as its debts and losses mount.


Calpine lost its spot in the Standard & Poor’s 500 late last week after its market value shriveled to less than $310 million — the lowest in the blue-chip stock index.


S&P’s rebuff followed Calpine’s ouster of its chief executive officer and chief financial officer.


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