In other items: $400,000 from NIH for proteomics work; purchase to create specialty-drug giant; no early release for Lea Fastow; weak ad revenue drags down results for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia; and salads add flavor to banana staple.

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Ryanair Holdings, the Irish low-fare airline, is buying more than 50 new Boeing 737s with a list price of more than $3 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported last night.

Sources told The Journal the deal is expected to be announced in London today. Since 1998, Ryanair has announced commitments for 275 planes, of which 155 are firm orders.

Ryanair’s order is for 737-800s, which carry an average list price of about $65 million, The Journal reported, but airlines rarely pay list prices.

A Boeing spokesman declined to comment as did a Ryanair spokeswoman.


$400,000 from NIH for proteomics work

Insilicos, a Seattle biotech-software company, said it has received a $400,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop tools for proteomics, the study of large numbers of biological proteins.

The two-year grant will enable the small company to collaborate with the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle on programs that organize experiments, identify proteins, measure changes and validate results.

Medco / Accredo

Purchase to create specialty-drug giant

Medco Health Solutions, one of the nation’s biggest pharmacy-benefits managers, said yesterday it will buy Accredo Health, a distributor of specialty drugs and services, in a $2.2 billion deal to create the nation’s largest specialty-pharmacy business.

The companies expect to generate more than $4 billion in annual revenue from their combined specialty-drug businesses.

The deal, which includes cash and stock, caused shares of Accredo to soar 39 percent while Medco shares slipped.


No early release for Lea Fastow

Lea Fastow, wife of former Enron finance chief Andrew Fastow, will serve her entire one-year prison term for helping her husband hide tens of thousands of dollars in ill-gotten kickbacks from the government, a judge ruled yesterday.

U.S. District Judge David Hittner denied a request from her attorney that she be released before her sentence on a tax crime ends in July.

Hittner imposed the maximum prison term possible last year for a misdemeanor charge of filing a false tax form after months of legal wrangling. Lea Fastow wanted to plead guilty to a felony version of the same count in exchange for a term of five months in prison and five months of home confinement.

Martha Stewart Living

Weak ad revenue drags down results

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, whose founder will be released from prison next week, turned in a loss during its fourth quarter, compared with a profit a year ago. It continues to be dragged down by falling magazine advertising revenues and softness in its television division.

The multimedia company, which stamps the namesake domestic diva’s name on an array of products from magazines to pots, also warned yesterday that losses for the first quarter will exceed analysts’ projections.

But positive signs about the business as the company awaits Stewart’s return helped push shares up 8.5 percent to $37.40, a new 52-week high.


Salads add flavor to banana staple

Chiquita Brands, a leading grower of bananas and fresh-cut fruit, announced yesterday it is buying Fresh Express, the nation’s top seller of bagged salads, from Performance Food Group for $855 million in cash.

Performance Food shares climbed $2, or 8 percent, to close at $27 yesterday, while Chiquita shares rose 5 cents to close at $22.05.

The move will help Chiquita with its goal of reducing reliance on bananas, especially in Europe.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and The Associated Press