Pacific Northwest A shareholder lawsuit has been filed in King County Superior Court accusing Issaquah-based Costco Wholesale of manipulating...

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A shareholder lawsuit has been filed in King County Superior Court accusing Issaquah-based Costco Wholesale of manipulating stock-option grant dates between 1997 and 2002 to maximize profits for executives.

Fosler Law Group, of Bellevue, in partnership with a San Diego law firm, filed the lawsuit July 17 on behalf of shareholder Sandra Donnelly. The suit against Costco board members and top executives seeks unspecified damages.

In 2006, Costco appointed three of its directors to examine the company’s options grants from 1996 to 2005. The company said that although in several cases the directors could not determine when options had been granted, they found no evidence of fraud, falsifying records or intentionally deviating from generally accepted accounting principles.

In March 2007, Costco revealed that it had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in Seattle looking into its options grants. An investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office is continuing, according to the lawsuit.

Aviation

British Airways orders 777-300s

British Airways announced Friday an order for six Boeing 777-300ER large wide-body jets, with options to take four more of the planes.

Only two of the firm-order airplanes were ordered direct from Boeing, an airline spokesman said. The rest will come from GECAS, the aircraft-leasing unit of General Electric.

The two-airplane Boeing part of the firm order is worth $529 million at list prices. Market data from aircraft-valuation firm Avitas peg the actual purchase price after standard discounts at about $300 million.

Retail

Amazon to buy AbeBooks

Internet retailer Amazon.com said Friday it reached an agreement to buy AbeBooks of Victoria, B.C. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Privately held AbeBooks lists used, rare and out-of-print books for independent booksellers worldwide. It will continue as a stand-alone operation in Victoria after the deal, which Amazon plans to finalize by the end of the year.

Technology

CEO to acquire Auburn’s Zones

Auburn-based direct-marketing IT reseller Zones announced plans Thursday to be acquired by its chairman and chief executive, Firoz Lalji, who already owns more than half of the company.

Lalji will pay $8.65 for each Zones share, 59 percent more than the closing price on Wednesday, valuing the company at about $114 million. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter pending approval of shareholders excluding Lalji and parties related to him, who will own shares in the continuing company.

Zones’ net sales in the second quarter fell 17.6 percent to $158.3 million. Profit fell 18.2 percent to $3.6 million, or 25 cents a share.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff