Pacific Northwest Starbucks named former executive Arthur Rubinfeld to oversee store design, the second manager hired back since Howard...

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Starbucks named former executive Arthur Rubinfeld to oversee store design, the second manager hired back since Howard Schultz returned to the role of chief executive officer.

Rubinfeld, 54, will serve as head of global development, a new position, Seattle-based Starbucks said Monday in a statement. Rubinfeld was executive vice president for store development at the coffee chain from 1992 to 2001.

Schultz is reining in the company’s expansion after ousting James Donald as CEO last month. Schultz hired another former executive, Harry Roberts, as chief creative officer last month.

Rubinfeld was most recently chief development officer at restaurant chain Potbelly Sandwich Works. In 2001, he founded Airvision, a consulting firm that focused on brand positioning, and did work for Oakley, adidas and Washington Mutual, according to the statement.


RAK Airways orders 737-800s

RAK Airways, the United Arab Emirates’ fourth-biggest carrier, ordered four Boeing 737-800 aircraft and took options on two more planes.

The six jets have a total list price of about $449 million. Assuming standard discounts based on estimates from aircraft-valuation firm Avitas, the actual purchase price is about $272 million.

The state-controlled airline, which began flying in November with a leased Boeing aircraft, will take delivery of the planes in 2011 and 2012, Chief Operating Officer K. Ravindran said Monday.


Cancer therapy effective in mice

Oncothyreon said Monday that one of its experimental therapies proved effective when treating lung cancer in mice.

The Bellevue company said its PX-478 therapy, currently in early-stage clinical trials on humans with advanced metastatic cancer and lymphoma, inhibited tumors and improved survival rates in mice during a separate preclinical study.

Oncothyreon shares rose 31 cents, or 8.5 percent, to $3.95 Monday.


Subsidiary agrees to quit using fur

Nike subsidiary Cole Haan says it will go fur-free in 2008. People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals had asked Nike and Cole Haan to stop using fur in its products. While Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike doesn’t use any fur in its own products, Cole Haan uses fur in coats and gloves.


Largest U.S. airlines raise fares $10

The largest U.S. carriers raised fares $10 round-trip on most domestic routes as fuel prices climbed to record highs, airlines and fare monitors said Monday.

Airlines boosted prices on both advance-purchase tickets and those bought just before travel. There was no increase in fares in direct competition with low-cost carriers like Southwest Airlines, Tom Parsons of said in an e-mail.

U.S. carriers have been raising fares, increasing fuel surcharges and considering merging or possibly selling assets to help cope with higher fuel costs.

United Airlines initiated the increase on Feb. 22 and American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines matched over the weekend, spokesmen for the carriers said. Northwest Airlines and US Airways also adopted the increase, said Parsons and Rick Seaney, chief executive of

Delta, Northwest Airlines

Shares decline on merger doubts

Shares of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines fell in New York trading Monday as an expected merger between the two carriers appeared to be in jeopardy.

Northwest lost 41 cents, or 2.5 percent, to close $15.86 after falling 6.6 percent earlier Monday. Delta fell 22 cents to close at $16.15.

“The longer this drags on, the less likely it is that this will happen,” said Ray Neidl, an analyst with Calyon Securities in New York. “This shows how hard it is integrating pilot groups.”

Northwest pilot-union leaders have been quiet since a two-day meeting ended in suburban Minneapolis last week.

The Northwest chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association didn’t return calls. Northwest and Delta also declined to comment on the status of talks.


Consortium formed to build bandwidth

Google is joining a consortium to build a trans-Pacific fiber-optic cable, yet another sign that Internet companies are becoming powerful communications entities in their own right as users increasingly turn to the Web to swap videos and talk across the globe.

The move, which was announced Monday afternoon, is the first time an Internet company has invested in a cable spanning an ocean, said Alan Mauldin, research director with research firm TeleGeography.

“It shows that companies like Google are not just Web sites you go to,” he said.

The 6,200-mile cable, which is estimated to cost about $300 million, is being funded by six companies that, in addition to Google, include telecommunications companies Bharti Airtel in India and SingTel of Singapore, and Pacnet, a Hong Kong-based deep-sea fiber-optic cable network operator.

The announcement comes amid a recent global boom in new cable construction and upgrades of existing lines, the largest expansion of fiber-optic systems since the dot-com bust, when too much cable capacity led to a market collapse and bankruptcy for fiber-optic network operators such as Global Crossing.

Insurance Institute

Nissan Murano gets top crash ratings

The 2009 Nissan Murano was the best performer in new crash tests of midsize sport-utility vehicles, while the Hummer H3 had one of the poorest showings, according to results released today by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The institute, which is funded by the insurance industry, said the redesigned Murano was the only vehicle among the nine tested to get the highest rating in front, side and rear crash tests. It praised Nissan for making electronic stability control standard on the 2009 Murano.

General Motors’ H3 was the only vehicle in the group that didn’t get the top rating for frontal crash protection. Instead, it got the second-highest rating of “acceptable.”

In addition to the H3, the worst performers in the rear crash test were the Mitsubishi Endeavor and the Jeep Liberty/Dodge Nitro.

The Jeep Wrangler, Suzuki XL7, Mazda CX-7 and Mazda CX-9 all got the second-lowest rating of “marginal” on the rear test.


Sony, Sharp join in flat-TV displays

Falling behind rivals in flat-panel development for TVs, Sony is teaming with Japanese rival Sharp in procuring liquid-crystal displays, a company official said today.

Japan’s business daily The Nikkei reported today that Sony plans to invest $926 million in a plant Sharp is building to make panels for flat TVs.

Demand for slimmer TVs is growing around the world. Although the televisions use various panel technologies, LCD is the leading technology so far along with plasma.

Sony’s management failed to recognize how quickly slimmer TVs would take off, partly because of the huge success it enjoyed in developing and selling high-quality old-style televisions.


CEO says firm seeks partnerships

Qwest Chief Executive Ed Mueller said Monday the company intends to leverage new and existing partnerships to boost its revenues.

“We need partners to help us do this. We can’t do this alone,” he said at a meeting with analysts in New York.

Mueller spoke about changes he is considering to Qwest’s wireless partnership with Sprint Nextel and about his commitment to spend millions to improve Qwest’s broadband network.

“We have a hole in wireless,” he said.

Currently, Qwest purchases wireless minutes from Sprint at a wholesale rate but must also team up separately with a handset manufacturer for phones. That means customers don’t get the newest phones on the market.

A new partnership, possibly with AT&T, Verizon or Sprint, would give customers better deals and give Qwest a revenue boost.

Mueller said Qwest’s 14-state territory covers 11 percent of the country, making it attractive to other wireless providers. Right now, Qwest has 824,000 wireless customers.

The market responded positively to Mueller’s remarks, with Qwest shares up Monday more than 33 cents, or 6 percent, to $5.60.


Bond insurer halts dividend

MBIA, a bond insurer fighting to hang on to its top-notch credit rating, on Monday said it will eliminate its quarterly dividend and restructure within five years.

The actions came as Standard and Poor’s affirmed its rating on the financial strength of MBIA and Ambac Financial Group, another troubled bond insurer.

MBIA insures $670 billion in bonds. A rating downgrade could make it more difficult for businesses and municipalities that rely on those bonds to borrow money.

Jay Brown, MBIA’s recently installed chairman and chief executive, said he recommended the board halt the dividend to shore up the company’s financial resources and improve its operating flexibility. The move is expected to save the company $174 million a year.

MBIA has been scrambling to raise cash to mollify ratings agencies concerned over their exposure to risky mortgage debt.

One of those agencies, Standard and Poor’s, Monday afternoon affirmed its “AAA” rating on MBIA and Ambac.

MBIA shares fell 25 cents to $14.33 in after-hours trading. The stock surged $2.40, or nearly 20 percent, to $14.58 during the regular session after S&P affirmed the company’s ratings.

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