Other items: Executive quits; no plans to fill post; Qwest dismisses MCI's request to talk; Ford sales fall; sales of Prius rise ...

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A lawsuit has been filed to try to stop Microsoft’s $120 million acquisition of Groove Networks.

Microsoft said it would acquire Beverly, Mass.-based Groove and hire founder Ray Ozzie as chief technical officer in an all-cash offer announced March 10. Groove makes software that enables file sharing over the Internet.

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Former Groove employee Michael Matthews, who sued closely held Groove and its directors and seeks to block the deal, claimed Microsoft and Ozzie “seek to eliminate the interest of junior preferred and common stockholders for no consideration,” according to the suit filed March 25 in Delaware Chancery Court. Only senior preferred stockholders receive compensation under the deal, he said.

Cell Therapeutics

Executive quits; no plans to fill post

James Canfield, chief administrative officer and executive vice president at Cell Therapeutics, has resigned, the Seattle biotech said yesterday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Canfield held the post since December 2001 and received $300,000 in salary and bonus for 2003, according to the company’s latest available proxy statement. Cell Therapeutics, which gave no reason for Canfield’s departure, said it “does not currently intend” to appoint a replacement.

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MCI / Qwest

Qwest dismisses MCI’s request to talk

MCI invited Qwest to reopen merger talks yesterday, just three days after the long-distance phone company agreed to a sweetened $7.5 billion buyout from Verizon and a day after Qwest raised its bid to nearly $9 billion.

Qwest dismissed the gesture and reiterated an April 5 deadline for MCI to accept or reject its offer. Qwest noted that when MCI agreed to the new Verizon deal, it told Qwest that there was no need for additional discussions.


GM, Ford sales fall; sales of Prius rise

General Motors and Ford said yesterday that new vehicle sales in March failed to match year-ago levels, despite hopes for a recovery after a tough winter. Meanwhile, some Asian brands reported record demand.

Toyota said its gas-electric Prius hybrid, which gets around 55 miles per gallon on the highway, had its best-ever sales of 10,236 vehicles.

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