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645 workers added in state last month

Last month’s strike by Boeing machinists temporarily halted the company’s airplane production, but it did little to slow its hiring.

Boeing added 645 workers in Washington state last month to expand its local workforce to 61,042 people as of Oct. 6, the highest level since January 2003. Nearly all of the additions were in the commercial-airplanes group, which added 500 jobs last month to increase to 48,956 workers across the country.

Surging demand for new, more fuel-efficient jetliners is responsible for the hiring.

Chaz Bickers, a Boeing spokesman, said most of the new hires are either supporting 737 production or aiding development of the widebody 787 Dreamliner, which is due to enter service in 2006.


Catastrophe losses $27 million for Rita

Safeco estimates its after-tax catastrophe losses from Hurricane Rita will be $27 million, far less than the $78 million it expects from Hurricane Katrina.

Altogether, the insurer figures catastrophe losses for the third quarter will be $116 million after taxes. That’s below the $127 million cost of catastrophe losses in the year-earlier quarter, when four hurricanes hit Florida and nearby states, contributing to a quarterly net loss of $101.1 million for the company.

Safeco will report-third- quarter 2005 results Oct. 18.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Seattle Times business staff

Pacific Northwest

Xcyte Therapies

Restructuring cuts staff members to 8

Xcyte Therapies has cut its staff to eight, let go its research director and agreed to pay bonuses to its chairman and chief executive if the struggling Seattle biotech is acquired.

Dr. Ronald Berenson, who was Xcyte’s president and CEO until he became director of research and development in June, will receive a severance payment of more than $222,000, plus benefits, according to a regulatory filing yesterday. He left the company last week but will continue serving as a board member.

Acting President and CEO Dr. Bob Kirkman will receive a $150,000 bonus if the company is acquired or his employment is terminated 60 days prior to, or a year after, a merger or acquisition. Chairman Dr. Christopher Henney is in line for a $250,000 bonus if the company is acquired.

Kirkman said he could not comment on any pending acquisitions or other transactions.

Since March, Xcyte has cut nearly 100 positions and discontinued clinical development of its products, which are designed to stimulate the immune system.


Board-game maker taps ex-Mattel exec

Independent board-game maker Cranium appointed former Mattel executive Christina DeRosa to the newly created role of president.

Founder and Chief Executive Richard Tait will continue to focus on developing the company’s strategic vision with co-founder Whit Alexander. DeRosa will focus on day-to-day operations.

Prior to joining Cranium, DeRosa led Mattel’s worldwide interactive girls group. DeRosa also worked nine years for Nickelodeon.

Cranium, meanwhile, appointed Ginger Kent to its board of directors. Kent has served as president and CEO of and president of Hasbro’s U.S. Toy Group.

JPMorgan Private Bank

Planned expansion finally under way

JPMorgan Private Bank is expanding its Seattle office, adding two relationship managers and a wealth adviser in the next few months as it moves from shared space with JPMorgan Treasury Services to its own office on the 51st floor of Washington Mutual Tower.

Stephen Kutz, a longtime JPMorgan banker, moved here in spring 2001 to build a Seattle office for the private bank, which caters to people with a net worth of at least $25 million. But the economic slowdown delayed those plans, leaving Kutz and an administrative assistant to manage client relationships in Seattle for the past four years. Now business is improving, and he is moving ahead with the expansion.

Targeted Genetics

Arthritis-therapy study advances

Targeted Genetics has treated the first patient in the latest study of its injectable gene therapy for inflammatory arthritis, the company announced yesterday.

This second Phase I trial of the Seattle company’s tgAAC94 therapy will test its safety at higher and repeated doses, as well as patients’ responses to the treatment.

The company expects to enroll up to 40 people in the trial with conditions including rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis who are receiving other treatments but still have joint inflammation. The therapy is initially positioned as a complement to existing treatments.

The second trial follows the company’s announcement this summer of successful results from a smaller Phase I trial.

The company’s stock climbed 1 cent to close at 64 cents yesterday.

Concur Technologies

Co-founder given title of president

Redmond-based Concur Technologies, which develops expense-management software, said it promoted Rajeev Singh, chief operating officer, to the position of president.

Singh co-founded Concur in August 1993 and has been overseeing sales, marketing, research and development, business development and other parts of the company’s operations as COO for the past five years.

Concur also promoted Kyle Sugamele, vice president and general counsel, to chief legal officer. Sugamele has managed legal affairs for the company since he joined Concur in August 2000.

Nation / World

Inco / Falconbridge

Deal joins Canadian mining giants

Inco agreed to pay nearly $11 billion in cash and stock for Falconbridge yesterday in a deal between two of Canada’s top mining companies that would create the world’s largest nickel producer and a significant copper producer.

The combined operations of both companies employ 6,000 people in Sudbury, and Inco’s corporate office has about 225 people while Falconbridge’s corporate office has about 300 people.

Merrill Lynch

High court won’t reinstate fraud suit

The Supreme Court refused yesterday to reinstate a class-action lawsuit that accused Merrill Lynch and one-time Wall Street darling Henry Blodget of misleading investors about Internet stocks.

Justices had been asked to use the case to clarify the standard for securities-fraud claims.

A federal-court judge had thrown out the lawsuit, and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, prompting investors to ask the Supreme Court to intervene. Justices declined without comment.

About 140 such lawsuits were filed after New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer investigated investment recommendations by financial institutions, including Merrill Lynch. Spitzer documented internal communications that expressed negative views on Internet stocks that the firm’s analysts were then recommending to the investing public, according to court filings.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and The Associated Press.