Pacific Northwest Washington Banking, owner of 19-branch Whidbey Island Bank, called off its planned sale to Everett-based Frontier Financial...

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Pacific Northwest

Washington Bank

Frontier Financial deal is called off

Washington Banking, owner of 19-branch Whidbey Island Bank, called off its planned sale to Everett-based Frontier Financial. In a statement Tuesday, Washington Banking blamed the larger company for not winning regulatory approval of a deal announced more than eight months ago, and called the delay “a breach of Frontier’s representations and warranties.”

Frontier Financial, the operator of 47 commercial-banking branches in Western Washington, said in late September it would acquire Oak Harbor-based Washington Banking for about $191 million in cash and stock.

Frontier stock, above $23 when the deal was announced, has fallen below $15. Washington Banking said in regulatory filings that their agreement called for Frontier to raise its payment under certain conditions. But Frontier did not announce an increased offer.

Washington Banking shares closed Tuesday at $12.50, up 15 cents, or 1.2 percent. Frontier Financial closed at $14.54, down 32 cents, or 2.2 percent.

Columbia Sportswear

2 stores opening in downtown

Columbia Sportswear, a Portland-based maker of outdoor apparel and shoes, said Tuesday it plans to open two stores next to each other at the Macy’s parking garage, which is being renovated at Third Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle to produce new retail space.

The stores will sell Columbia-branded products, as well as outdoor equipment, apparel and accessories under the Mountain Hardwear name. Scheduled to open in late fall, they’ll cover about 18,850 square feet.

Columbia Sportswear operates one Columbia flagship store and an adjacent Mountain Hardwear store in Portland. It plans 15 to 20 additional stores in the U.S. and Europe over the next three to five years.


787 Dreamliner set to power up

Hamilton Sundstrand, supplier of the power systems for the new 787 Dreamliner, said Boeing now has all the hardware and software it needs to turn the aircraft’s power on for the first time this month.

When Boeing announced the most recent delay in April, program chief Pat Shanahan identified the power system as one of two problem areas, and the most immediate hurdle before the so-called “power-on” test that will be a crucial milestone for the aircraft.

David Hess, president of United Technologies’ Hamilton Sundstrand unit, gave the progress report Tuesday at the company’s aircraft systems plant in Rockford, Ill., which has a new wing to house the 787 work.

Because of manufacturing delays and design issues, delivery of the first Dreamliner has been postponed at least 14 months from the original delivery target of last month.


Software maker snags $10.6 million

Security-software maker Vantos raised $10.6 million from venture capitalists, lead investor Fluke Venture Partners said Tuesday.

The Seattle company creates software that helps large companies cobble together and analyze data from internal investigations.

The product is mainly geared toward companies subject to extensive regulatory compliance, like pharmaceutical or financial firms, said Fluke Ventures managing director Kevin Gabelein, who is joining Vantos’ board.

Previous investors OVP Venture Partners, of Kirkland, and Bay Area-based Outlook Ventures also participated in the financing round.

Vantos will use the money for sales and marketing efforts, product development and general expenses, Gabelein said.

Real estate

Move-in time for UW Medicine

The first University of Washington Medicine employees this week began moving into two new buildings in the institution’s growing research complex in South Lake Union.

The 170,000-square-foot laboratory building and 86,000-square-foot office building, developed by Vulcan Real Estate, will allow the UW to consolidate several far-flung research groups, including the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine and the Diabetes and Obesity Center.

The buildings are on the block bounded by Mercer and Republican streets and Eighth and Ninth avenues North — the same block as the “Blue Flame” building, former headquarters of Washington Natural Gas, which Vulcan renovated for UW Medicine.


Liberty Mutual deal clears hurdle

The proposed acquisition of Safeco by Liberty Mutual has passed the waiting period during which it could have been challenged by antitrust regulators, the two companies said Tuesday in a statement.

Liberty Mutual’s $68.25-a-share purchase of Safeco, announced April 23, still requires approval from insurance regulators and Safeco shareholders. It is expected to close by the end of the third quarter.


Online venture to tap celeb mania

Microsoft is teaming with BermanBraun, a Santa Monica, Calif., production company, to create an online destination to tap consumers’ near-obsession with celebrity entertainment.

The yet-unnamed venture should launch early in 2009, said Rob Bennett, general manager of entertainment, video and sports for MSN.

The new site is expected to offer more than headlines from celebrity-focused Web sites, magazines and TV shows. The goal is to carve out lucrative online real estate for advertisers willing to pay a premium to get their messages embedded into the entertainment.

Neither Bennett nor Lloyd Braun, the former Yahoo and ABC television executive who founded BermanBraun with former Fox television and Paramount Pictures executive Gail Berman, would discuss their financial arrangement.

Nation & World

Standard & Poor’s

Settlement reached with N.Y.’s Cuomo

Standard & Poor’s said Tuesday it has tentatively settled with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to overhaul some of its business practices in the aftermath of the subprime-mortgage crisis.

Cuomo has been investigating the way S&P, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service charge fees to bond issuers for rating their securities.

The industry, dominated by the three agencies, has been roundly criticized for failing to accurately assess — and warn investors about — the risks that mortgage investments posed to financial markets.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff, Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press