Boeing said Tuesday it would lay off about 250 workers at its Wichita, Kan., operations — 6.4 percent of the 3,900 work force.

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Boeing said Tuesday it would lay off about 250 workers at its Wichita, Kan., operations — 6.4 percent of the 3,900 work force.

The layoffs include cuts at the Integrated Defense Systems unit — reductions that Derek McLuckey, general manager of the site, attributed to delays in major programs due to the recent Machinists union strike.

On Sept. 30, about 18,400 Boeing Machinists in the Puget Sound area and Wichita returned to work after a four-week strike that shut down the company’s commercial-airplane-assembly plants and slowed work at its Wichita defense facility.

The company said the layoffs also include previously announced reductions in its Shared Services Group and Information Technology operations, cuts that followed Boeing’s decision to consolidate enterprise services and the sale of its commercial-airplanes operations in Kansas and Oklahoma.


Shareholders to hear of strategy

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is expected to discuss Microsoft’s new services strategy today during the company’s annual shareholder meeting at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue.

Last week Gates unveiled the strategy emphasizing products delivered via the Web at a faster pace, including some supported by advertising. Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie outlined the strategy for executives late last month, in a memo that was released Tuesday.

Ozzie is working with Microsoft division heads to create “scenario owners” in each business division to shepherd the creation of service offerings, the memo said. They’ll map changes needed to speed product releases and tailor them to the new strategy.

Today’s meeting begins at 8 a.m. Shareholders are also voting on whether to re-elect the company’s board of directors and to ratify the company’s choice of auditor, Deloitte & Touche.


Italian group says law was violated

Microsoft has been accused by a consumer group in Italy of breaking an Italian antitrust law by impeding PC makers from selling computers that haven’t been pre-loaded with the Windows XP operating system, according to a complaint filed with Italy’s antitrust authority last month.

The complaint from the Association for the Rights of Users and Consumers is the second in recent weeks as Microsoft seeks to settle antitrust cases against it worldwide. A Swedish technology company late last month accused Microsoft of illegally using Windows’ dominance to quash competing video and music systems.

Italian competition authority spokeswoman Anna Galloppa couldn’t confirm whether the regulator had received the complaint. Tom Brookes, a Microsoft spokesman, declined to comment.


$8 million raised for new ventures

Issaquah-based BioPassword, which develops software that uses a person’s keystroke rhythm to create additional security when entering passwords, said it raised $8 million in venture capital.

The company’s second round of funding came from Ignition Partners and OVP Venture Partners and will be used to develop products, expand distribution and build customer-support systems.

BioPassword said Ignition partner John Connors, Microsoft’s former chief financial officer, and OVP partner Lucinda Stewart will join the board.

BioPassword, which has 56 employees, raised $5.5 million earlier this year.

Bekins Moving & Storage

Partner indicted in tax scheme

A business partner who helped Paul Bekins, owner of Mountlake Terrace-based Bekins Moving & Storage, evade $1.3 million in taxes has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle.

Russell Brown of Jackson, Wyo., is accused of helping Bekins funnel income into offshore accounts by conspiring on the purchase of two warehouses in Tacoma and Everett. If convicted, Brown faces a maximum of five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.

Brown was a member with Bekins and numerous others across the country in an organization known as Tower Executive Resources, whose purpose was to assist members in the evasion of taxes.

Bekins pleaded guilty in 2004 for his role in the tax-dodging scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 2. Tower’s two operators, Paul Harris and Lester Retherford, were convicted in a Denver federal court earlier this year.

Nation and World

International trade

U.S., China sign textile-import deal

The United States and China signed a deal Tuesday limiting imports of Chinese clothing and textiles into the U.S., ending three months of negotiations over the issue.

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai described the deal as a “win-win” after a final round of talks in London, but Bo later added that it was a “far cry” from China’s original expectations.

The U.S. industry has been pushing for a deal to stem a flood of Chinese imports that began when global quotas were lifted in January. Tuesday’s announcement smooths over trade relations between the two nations about a week before President Bush visits China.

Portman said the deal — set to take effect Jan. 1 and cover 34 categories, including 14 the U.S. industry considers the most sensitive — was fair to both countries. He called it an illustration of what “hard work” and “good faith” could accomplish.


$491.4 million loss posted for quarter

Blockbuster posted a $491.4 million third-quarter loss as the elimination of most late fees continued to chip away at revenue.

Executives said Blockbuster would cut spending and raise at least $100 million through a private placement of convertible preferred stock.

In a filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Blockbuster said it could be forced into bankruptcy protection if a new credit agreement with lenders doesn’t become effective.

Blockbuster shares fell 10 cents to $4.20 Tuesday. They have ranged from $4.03 to $10.65 in the past year.

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