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Union leaders representing 18,700 technical and engineering workers begin two weeks of talks with Boeing today in Seattle. The company will then submit a contract to the leadership of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), which will recommend that members reject or accept the proposal.

The negotiations open just weeks after Boeing settled a one-month strike by the Machinists, the other major union at the company.

The engineers are crucial to development of Boeing’s forthcoming 787 jetliner, and the global rebound in demand for aerospace engineers has them wanting what the Machinists got, plus more. SPEEA Executive Director Charles Bofferding said last month the union expects health-care and pension-plan protection similar to what the Machinists won, along with “significant salary increases.”

Boeing officials say the contract must keep the company competitive.


Japanese airline orders 3 planes

Boeing said it won an order from All Nippon Airways, Japan’s second-largest carrier, for three 767-300 airliners converted to freighters. The Japanese carrier also is taking options for an additional four conversions of aircraft it owns. Boeing said in a statement that it wouldn’t provide a value for the conversions.


Trial shows drug improves patients

Leukine, the drug Berlex plans to make at a Snohomish County factory under construction, improved the quality of life of patients with Crohn’s disease in a midstage clinical trial reported Monday.

More than a million patients worldwide have Crohn’s disease, a chronic gastrointestinal inflammation. Patients who received Leukine showed “significant improvements in quality of life” after 57 days compared with those given a placebo.

Leukine was developed by Seattle’s Immunex as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and sold to Berlex parent Schering in 2002.


Company to buy mobile-phone firm

Telefonica, the Spanish telecommunications powerhouse that has been expanding in Latin America and Eastern Europe, has agreed to buy mobile-phone company O2 in a $31.4 billion deal that will help Telefonica expand in United Kingdom and German markets.

The Spanish company said Monday it has agreed to pay $3.55 a share in cash for O2 shares, a 22 percent premium over the closing price Friday. The O2 board recommended shareholders accept the offer.

Shares of O2 surged 25 percent Monday, while Telefonica shares fell 2.3 percent.

The combined company will have 170 million customers globally including fixed-line users.


Settlement reported in shareholder suits

Qwest Communications International is expected to announce as soon as today a $400 million settlement of most shareholder lawsuits that were filed after an accounting scandal forced the company to restate billions in revenue, a person familiar with the deal said Monday.

The proposed settlement will cover Denver-based Qwest, some former executives and its board of directors — but not former Chief Executive Joseph Nacchio and former Chief Financial Officer Robert Woodruff, said the source, who is close to the negotiations.

Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs declined comment Monday night.

The company, which is the primary phone provider in 14 mostly Western states, including Washington, is scheduled to release its third-quarter earnings today.

Novartis / Chiron

Takeover proposal now sweet enough

Chiron said Monday its board of directors accepted a sweetened $5.1 billion takeover offer from the Swiss drug giant Novartis, which vowed to “turn around” the beleaguered flu-shot maker.

Switzerland-based Novartis already owns 42 percent of Chiron, which touched off a public-health crisis in the U.S. last year when it failed to deliver half of the nation’s expected flu-shot stockpile.

Emeryville, Calif.-based Chiron had rejected a previous offer of $4.5 billion, or $40 a share, as inadequate. The improved bid of $45 a share represent a 23 percent premium to Chiron’s closing price Aug. 31, the last trading day before Novartis’ original bid.

Analysts said Novartis wants to protect a sizable investment, and the once-sleepy vaccine market is heating up because of bird-flu concerns.

Barrick Gold / Placer Dome

$9 billion offered for B.C. company

Barrick Gold said Monday it offered to buy Vancouver, B.C.-based gold-mining company Placer Dome for about $9.2 billion in cash and stock in a deal that would create the world’s largest gold producer.

Placer Dome, meanwhile, said its board of directors would meet to consider what Barrick’s spokesman called a “friendly unsolicited offer.”

Placer Dome said that it would not comment until it completes a review of Barrick’s offer.

Fidelity Investments

Manager changes at Magellan Fund

The manager of Fidelity Investments’ flagship Magellan Fund, which has dropped by about half to approximately $52 billion in assets in the past five years, has retired after nearly a decade on the job, the company announced on Monday.

Robert Stansky will be replaced by Harry Lange, said Stephen Jonas, executive director of Fidelity Management and Research.

Running a fund like Magellan leads to burnout, said Eric Kobren, executive editor of the Fidelity Insight, a Wellesley, Mass.-based independent Fidelity newsletter.

Kobren said Stansky had missed the technology rebound in 2003.

Lange, who has been at Fidelity since 1987, most recently was the manager of the Fidelity Capital Appreciation Fund.

Compiled from Bloomberg News, Seattle Times staff,The Associated Press and Dow Jones Newswires