Boeing said Wednesday that it had completed a deal with Chinese carrier Xiamen Airlines to order 10 737-800s, setting a record for airplane sales.

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Boeing said Wednesday that it had completed a deal with Chinese carrier Xiamen Airlines to order 10 737-800s, setting a record for airplane sales.

Including this order, Boeing said it has sold 6,025 737s, more than any other commercial-airplane model.

The order would be worth between $635 million and $720 million at list prices, although airlines typically bargain a significant discount.

The order is part of a 70-plane commitment that Chinese carriers made when President Bush visited China in November, but Boeing said Wednesday that the order wasn’t finalized until a few days ago.

Xiamen Airlines is jointly owned by China Southern Airlines and Xiamen C&D.

The airplanes are scheduled to be delivered between mid-2006 and 2007.


Buyer of 6 planes

identified as JAL

Japan Airlines has ordered five more 777-300ERs and one additional 767-300 freighter, according to updates posted to Boeing’s Web site.

Boeing previously reported the sales but listed the customer as “unidentified.”

The new deals bring the 2005 order total for JAL, long one of Boeing’s best customers, to 72 planes.

JAL had 39 767s and 37 777s in its fleet at the end of November.

HAL Real Estate

Mercer Island

complex sold

A landmark apartment complex in a wooded area of Mercer Island sold for $140 million Wednesday, the most recent of the $2.5 billion worth of apartments and condos to change hands in the Seattle area this year.

The 44-acre Shorewood Heights Apartments, originally built by the Clise family in 1949, was sold by the investment group HAL Real Estate. HAL bought Shorewood Heights for $54 million in 1998, refurbishing the 567-unit complex and adding 78 units.

Buyers were Seattle-based Security Properties and Principal Global Financial of Iowa, national investors that have been active in the Seattle area recently.

It was the region’s second-biggest apartment sale of the year; the largest was the $172 million paid for the Harbor Steps apartments near Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

LifeSpan BioSciences

Pfizer signs up

for multiyear deal

LifeSpan BioSciences has signed a multiyear agreement with drug giant Pfizer, one of its most important customers.

The privately held Seattle company provides research and databases of potential targets for drug developers.

LifeSpan’s database includes information on more than 3,200 genes, which Chief Executive Joseph Brown describes as “the cream of the crop of the human genome, in terms of the potential for drug development.”

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and The Associated Press.


Pacific Northwest

Washington Mutual

Commercial group

head to step down

Washington Mutual said Wednesday that Craig Chapman, president of its commercial group, will leave Jan. 31 to “seek new challenges.”

Commercial lending, including loans to apartment-building developers, will report to Al Brooks, who has been at Seattle-based WaMu for seven years.

Other businesses that used to report to Chapman are Long Beach Mortgage, which offers mortgages to people with spotty credit, and Mortgage Banker Finance, which does various things including extending lines of credit to large national homebuilders.

Those businesses will become part of WaMu’s home-loans group, which is overseen by David Schneider.

Nation and World

H&R Block

$62.5 million pact

to settle lawsuit

Tax preparer H&R Block on Wednesday agreed to pay $62.5 million to settle a number of class-action lawsuits dealing with its use of refund anticipation loans.

A Circuit Court judge in West Virginia is scheduled to consider the settlement Friday. If approved, it would resolve four class-action suits filed in West Virginia, Ohio, Alabama and Maryland, as well as resolve claims pending in 22 other states and the District of Columbia.

H&R Block said the settlement would cover more than 8 million customers who got the loans between 1989 and 2005.

Under the refund-anticipation loans, customers due a tax refund could receive most of the money in two or three business days by paying a fee to file the return electronically plus a loan-processing fee.


How bright future

managed to fade

Calpine’s convoluted descent into bankruptcy, culminating in a Chapter 11 filing late Tuesday night, began when the future still looked bright for the power merchant.

Emboldened by its rapidly rising profits and stock price in 2001, Calpine launched a debt-laden expansion aimed at capitalizing on an apparent power shortage that had turned electricity into a high-priced commodity.

The San Jose, Calif., company doubled in size, leaving it with 3,300 employees and 92 power plants in 21 states and Canada with enough capacity to provide electricity to 28 million homes.

But market conditions have shifted radically during the past four years amid plunging prices for electricity and climbing costs for natural gas — the fuel that Calpine relies upon to run most of its environment-friendly power plants. The company’s fleet of power plants has been operating at only 45 percent of capacity, making it difficult to generate enough money to repay debts listed at $22.5 billion in Calpine’s bankruptcy filing.


Rival agrees

to acquire Maxtor

Seagate Technology, which makes computer hard drives used to store data, said Wednesday it agreed to acquire rival Maxtor for about $1.9 billion in stock.

Under the terms of the agreement, Maxtor shareholders will receive .37 shares of Seagate common stock for each Maxtor share they own. Based on Seagate’s closing stock price on Tuesday, the deal values each Maxtor share at about $7.25, a 60 percent premium to Maxtor’s Tuesday closing price of $4.52.

Shares of Maxtor, which is based in Milpitas, Calif., surged $2.13, or 47 percent, to $6.65 in pre-market trading after the news. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $3.10 to $6.68.

Seagate shareholders will own approximately 84 percent and Maxtor shareholders will own approximately 16 percent of the combined company.


Deal made to buy

S.F. software firm

IBM agreed Wednesday to acquire Micromuse, which makes software that manages video and voice traffic on computer networks, for about $865 million in cash.

Under the definitive agreement, IBM is paying shareholders $10 for each Micromuse share, almost a 40 percent premium to its closing price of $7.21 on Tuesday. Micromuse shares surged $2.71, or 37.6 percent, to close at $9.92. The stock had previously traded in a 52-week range of $3.97 to $8.13.

San Francisco-based Micromuse’s software is used to monitor and manage network traffic by about 1,800 clients such as America Online, E-Trade Financial, Verizon and other corporate and government customers.

General Motors

Kerkorian’s move

causes shares to fall

General Motors shares, which have lost more than half their value since the beginning of the year, fell an additional 4 percent Wednesday as investors fretted about billionaire Kirk Kerkorian’s decision to sell part of his stake in the automaker.

GM shares fell 80 cents to $19.05 Wednesday. That is their lowest level since 1982, according to Standard and Poor’s equity-market analyst Howard Silverblatt.

Kerkorian disclosed in a regulatory filing that his sale of 12 million GM shares generated a loss that would be used to offset gains elsewhere in his investment company’s portfolio for tax purposes.

Kerkorian spent about $1.7 billion to build a 9.9 percent stake in GM this year.

But he’s now about $600 million in the red, counting the almost $110 million loss on the sale of the 12 million shares and the reduced value of his remaining 7.8 percent stake.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, Bloomberg News

and The Associated Press