Pacific Northwest Yahoo said Thursday it will add John Chapple, the former chief executive of Nextel Partners, to its board of directors...

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Pacific Northwest

Technology

Yahoo said Thursday it will add John Chapple, the former chief executive of Nextel Partners, to its board of directors as part of the company’s deal to ward off a proxy fight with billionaire investor Carl Icahn.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company also is adding former Viacom CEO Frank Biondi Jr., pulling the two from a list of nine recommendations from Icahn.

Chapple, 55, was chief executive of Kirkland-based Nextel Partners from 1998 to 2006, when the wireless company was acquired by Sprint Communications. He is currently president of Hawkeye Investments, a private equity firm that focuses on telecom ventures.

Icahn acquired 5 percent of Yahoo’s shares and spent two months spearheading a campaign to replace the Internet company’s entire board after it rejected Microsoft’s takeover bid in May. As part of a July truce, Icahn got a seat on the board, and Yahoo agreed to name two others backed by him.

Aerospace

Boeing, Air Force to huddle Saturday

Boeing said its executives will meet for a second time with Air Force officials Saturday to discuss details of the draft request for proposals in the reopened contest for a $40 billion U.S. aerial refueling tanker contract.

“Air Force officials will be meeting with our people back at Dayton on Saturday to further discuss” the request for proposal, Boeing spokesman Daniel Beck said in an e-mail Thursday.

Boeing and Northrop Grumman executives already met separately with Air Force officials Tuesday at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. After the meeting, Boeing said it wanted “more discussions” while Northrop said it was “pleased with the process we see to date.”

Six weeks ago, the Government Accountability Office upheld a protest by Boeing, saying the Air Force made “significant errors” in awarding the contract in February to a team made up of Northrop Grumman and European Aeronautic Defence and Space.

Beverages

Kent distributor may lay off 600

Alaska Distributors, the Kent-based alcohol distributor, could lay off more than 600 workers on Oct. 3, according to a notice it gave the state Employment Security Department on Wednesday.

Company CEO Steve Loeb did not return a phone call Thursday.

The company plans to sell part of its business to CoHo Distributing of Portland, which is being created from the merger of Columbia Distributing, Mt. Hood Beverage and Gold River Distributing, CoHo said in a July press release. The deal is expected to close in early October.

Pacific Northwest

Retail

Peltz’s fund ends stake in Starbucks

Activist investor Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management has dissolved its stake in Starbucks, according to a securities filing Thursday. Trian reported in May that it had bought more than 800,000 Starbucks’ shares, less than 1 percent of the number outstanding. Trian also took a small stake in UST, the Connecticut-based parent company of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Woodinville.

Agriculture

Fruitful harvest ahead for state

Washington’s apple crop is predicted to rise 4 percent over 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

Production in the state, where about 60 percent of the nation’s apples are grown, is estimated at 5.4 billion pounds. Though up from 2007, that total would be down 3 percent from 2006.

Bartlett-pear production for Washington, California and Oregon is expected to be about 408,000 tons, according to the USDA. That’s 7 percent higher than the department’s June forecast but 4 percent lower than last year’s harvest.

Washington’s peach crop is expected to be 17,000 tons, compared with 18,500 tons last year, about an 8 percent drop.

Washington’s wine-grape production is forecast to be 6 percent higher this year, reaching a record 135,000 tons.

Nation / World

Software

Ruling clarifies free-software rights

In a crucial win for the free-software movement, a federal appeals court has ruled that even software developers who give away the programming code for their works can sue for copyright infringement if someone misappropriates that material.

The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., helps clarify a murky area of the law concerning how much control programmers can exert over their intellectual property once it’s been released into the “open source” software community.

DVD rentals

Shipping mess afflicts Netflix

Netflix, the DVD rental service, is suffering from the biggest shipping problem in its history, delaying delivery of those familiar red-and-white envelopes to millions of its customers.

The Los Gatos, Calif., company Thursday told its 8.5 million subscribers it had “severe technical issues” that had prevented it from mailing movies and TV shows.

The problems began Monday night and halted all shipments Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the company was able to send about half the discs subscribers had ordered from its 55 U.S. distribution centers, including one in Tacoma.

“It’s comprehensive, and it’s affecting our entire nationwide distribution systems,” Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey said.

The problem, which he wouldn’t identify, has prevented delivery to about one-third of the company’s members.

Banks

Two more banks settle with Cuomo

JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley on Thursday became the latest banks to reach settlements with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and other regulators as part of an investigation into the collapse of the auction-rate securities market.

The pair of banks will repurchase a combined $7 billion in the troubled securities at face value from investors.

Morgan Stanley agreed to pay a fine of $35 million, while JPMorgan will pay a fine of $25 million.

Airlines

American teams with Europeans

In a much-anticipated agreement, American Airlines said it will team up with British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia to cooperate on flights across the Atlantic.

The three airlines have signed a joint deal that includes an application for antitrust immunity on transatlantic flights.

If granted, the immunity would allow them to coordinate schedules, operations, marketing and other functions in an unprecedented fashion.

Virgin Atlantic immediately denounced the deal, saying it would give the airlines dominance over competitors

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