Former Microsoft temporary workers who sued for benefits in 1992 may finally get their checks this fall, according to a lawyer involved in the case.

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Former Microsoft temporary workers who sued for benefits in 1992 may finally get their checks this fall, according to a lawyer involved in the case.

“We’re expecting to finalize this relatively soon,” said Judith Bendich, a Seattle attorney for the plaintiffs.

Microsoft paid $97 million in 2001 to compensate 9,000 long-term temporary employees who were improperly denied benefits that full-time employees received. But the payout has been delayed by court reviews and the process of sorting out the distribution.

One remaining hurdle is an IRS ruling on taxation of the payouts. The ruling was thought to be final last month but the IRS still is working on it, Bendich said yesterday.

After the IRS rules, the material needs to be audited and submitted to court for a monthlong review. Checks could be mailed around October or November, barring further complications.


AOL trade profits sought in lawsuit

An InfoSpace shareholder filed a lawsuit against America Online yesterday, demanding that AOL return profits it obtained through alleged short-term trading of InfoSpace stock, a practice prohibited by federal securities law.

InfoSpace stockholder Thomas Dreiling accused AOL and former InfoSpace Chairman Naveen Jain of conspiring to artificially inflate the price of InfoSpace shares and then sell them within six-month periods.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, states that AOL made more than $41 million in one trade in 2000.

Dreiling, who settled an earlier claim against Jain last year, demands the AOL profits be returned to InfoSpace.

Pope Resources

$62 million raised to buy timberland

Pope Resources of Poulsbo, Kitsap County, said a subsidiary has raised $62 million for a private equity fund that will acquire commercial timberlands in the Pacific Northwest.

Pope Resources, which itself owns or manages about 650,000 acres of timber property in Washington and Oregon, said it provided $12.4 million of the capital committed to the fund. The fund will buy and manage timberland on behalf of individual and institutional investors.

Bonneville Power Administration

’05 rate increase may not be needed

Bonneville Power Administration said higher-than-expected revenue indicates a rate increase this year may be unnecessary.

The federal agency, which markets power generated by 31 government-owned hydroelectric dams to more than 100 utilities in the Northwest, may exceed revenue forecasts by $39 million for the year ending Sept. 30, it said yesterday in a statement.

Concerns about a potential rate increase were sparked by weak snowfall.


Investment group likes Chevron deal

A major investment-advisory firm yesterday recommended that Unocal’s shareholders accept Chevron’s $17.5 billion takeover bid instead of entangling themselves in the political turmoil facing a slightly higher offer from China’s government-owned CNOOC.

The endorsement of Institutional Shareholder Services, or ISS, provides Chevron and Unocal with a little more firepower as they meet with investors this week to rally support for their proposed marriage. Unocal’s board has already voted for the Chevron offer.

Another large shareholder-advisory service, Glass Lewis, expects to distribute its analysis of Chevron’s bid later this week.

A shareholder vote on the Chevron bid is scheduled Aug. 10 in Los Angeles.

Procter & Gamble

Profit rises 9%, tops expectations

After four straight years of solid growth, Procter & Gamble is setting its sights on expanding its brands and global reach with the pending acquisition of Gillette.

Yesterday, the consumer-products company posted a 9 percent increase in profit for its fourth quarter.

P&G reported earnings of $1.5 billion, or 56 cents per share, for the three months ended June 30, compared with $1.37 billion, or 50 cents per share, a year earlier. Sales jumped 10 percent to $14.26 billion from $12.96 billion.

The results topped analysts’ expectations of 55 cents per share on revenue of $14.05 billion, according to a survey by Thomson Financial.

Auto industry

GM discontinues employee discounts

General Motors dropped its popular employee-discount plan yesterday in a signal that the era of big incentives could be ending. Ford said it will continue employee pricing for another month but also will try to cut back on incentives for 2006 models. Chrysler Group is expected to announce its pricing strategy today.

GM was the first to allow customers to buy 2005 vehicles at the employee rate in June. The automaker’s sales jumped 41 percent that month, and Ford and Chrysler followed with their own employee-pricing plans in July. All the plans were set to expire yesterday.

Ford, however, said it’s extending employee pricing through Sept. 6 for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles. It’s also adding some 2006 models to the discount plan, including the Ford Escape, Ford Expedition, Ford Econoline and Lincoln Navigator.

Cingular Wireless

RadioShack ends ties with Verizon

RadioShack said it agreed to sell Cingular Wireless phones, cutting ties with long-time ally Verizon Wireless, as the electronics chain tries to revive wireless sales, its key profit driver.

At RadioShack, Cingular, the No. 1 U.S. wireless provider in terms of customer numbers, joins Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. wireless provider, a vendor that RadioShack said it had also signed with a new 11-year deal.


Eccleston to run U.S. subsidiary

European aircraft maker Airbus yesterday named Barry Eccleston as head of Airbus North America Holdings, its U.S. subsidiary.

As president and chief executive of the U.S. business, Airbus said Eccleston will oversee the company’s activities in the United States and Canada, reporting to Toulouse, France-based Chief Operating Officer John Leahy.

Eccleston, 58, joined Airbus from Honeywell, where he served as vice president and general manager of the aircraft engines division. At Airbus, he will replace Henri Courpron, who has accepted a position as executive vice president at the company’s headquarters.

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