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Pacific Northwest

Seattle-based said it was relocating its headquarters to Omaha, Neb., where a majority of its 100 employees work.

The 40 Seattle employees — who held finance, marketing, sales, legal and human-resources roles — will be offered jobs in Omaha. Two sales employees will remain in Seattle.

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The private company, which sells gift certificates that can be redeemed at about 200 merchants, said the move will save money and increase employee communication. The Seattle relocation follows the company’s move of its New York operations to Omaha in 2002.

Chief Executive Tim Barefield, who will relocate, estimates the move will save about $1 million a year and will increase the company’s profitability, which totaled $1.3 million in the first six months of 2005.

Fisher Communications

Brown chosen president, CEO

Fisher Communications, owner of KOMO-TV, yesterday named Colleen Brown its new president and chief executive, succeeding William Krippaehne, who was ousted by the broadcaster’s board this year.

Brown, a former senior executive at Texas media company Belo, will take over Monday from Benjamin Tucker, who has been acting CEO since Krippaehne resigned in January. Tucker is leaving the company, Fisher said.

Brown left Belo in 2003 to run her own company, Fisher said. She also has held television-related positions at Lee Enterprises and Gannett, Fisher said.


$8.5 million raised for expansion

A small Seattle biotech focused on early detection of prostate and colon cancer just completed an $8.5 million funding round to finance its expansion.

Tessera is opening a four-person lab to develop serum tests for the diseases, said H. Raymond Cairncross, co-founder, chairman and chief executive. Until now, most of the company’s functions — from research to manufacturing to marketing — have been outsourced.

The company has a corporate research agreement with Johns Hopkins University that funds the work of Dr. Robert Getzenberg, who directs the Brady Urological Institute there. Tessera has licensed 62 protein markers Getzenberg has identified that have the potential to predict prostate and colon cancer through blood, serum and tissue tests.

In August, Tessera commercialized its first product, ProstaMark EPCA. The tissue test can detect prostate cancer up to five years earlier than existing methods, according to a study in the Journal of Urology.

Tessera has raised $14.2 million in three separate rounds since January 2003.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff

Pacific Northwest


Canadian mill to close next year

Weyerhaeuser plans to close a pulp and paper mill in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, early next year, eliminating 690 jobs, the Federal Way-based forest-products company said yesterday. It blamed “poor market conditions.”

Paper operations will cease production on or about Jan. 2. The pulp mill will continue operating until spring.

The Prince Albert mill has an annual capacity of 280,000 tons of uncoated paper and 130,000 tons of market pulp. Weyerhaeuser said the uncoated free-sheet paper and pulp markets “face fundamental challenges, including excess capacity, declining demand, mounting inventories and weak prices.”

The company said it intends to explore all options with respect to the future of the mill, including identification of potential buyers.

Seattle Genetics

Simpson gets job as new CFO

Todd Simpson took over as chief financial officer at Seattle Genetics yesterday, replacing Tim Carroll, who retired. Simpson had been CFO at Targeted Genetics of Seattle, where David Poston was appointed acting CFO.

Nation and World

Apple Computer

iPod with video may be unveiled

Apple Computer has e-mailed invitations to reporters for a special event next week, prompting speculation on the Internet that the company would unveil a long-rumored iPod that can display videos.

The invitation from Apple, which is notoriously tight-lipped about its future products, said simply: “One more thing. … “

Early last month, Apple unveiled its pencil-thin iPod nano, which holds up to 1,000 songs and replaced the iPod mini, then the most popular iPod model.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs has in recent years at conferences and events saved the largest products that most delight the Apple faithful toward the end of his keynote speech, prefacing the announcement with the phrase, “Oh, and one more thing” or a variant.

Apple enthusiast Web sites, including AppleInsider, speculated yesterday that the Oct. 12 announcement could well be a video iPod that has long been rumored.

Delta Air Lines

Number of flights being reduced

Delta Air Lines, buffeted by high fuel costs in the wake of Katrina and Rita, said it is reducing its domestic flight schedule.

The carrier isn’t experiencing a shortage of jet fuel but is conserving energy, it said.

Delta spokeswoman Chris Kelly said it’s impossible to say exactly how many flights will be reduced because it will depend on travel each day.

The reductions will be minimal, though, affecting early-morning and late-night flights that have low bookings, Kelly said. For example, flights are more likely to be cut on Tuesdays or Wednesdays rather than on busier travel days such as Friday, Sunday and Monday.

Delta will notify affected passengers a few days in advance and will try to offer them choices about rescheduling flights, Kelly said. The company has no end date for the flight reductions.


Philadelphia awards contract

EarthLink, the fourth-largest U.S. Internet provider, won a $10 million contract to build and maintain a wireless Internet network in Philadelphia, beating Hewlett-Packard.

EarthLink will start building a network to cover the city’s 135 square miles in November with completion expected in a year, said Dianah Neff, Philadelphia’s chief information officer.

The contract with EarthLink is the first for a public wireless network covering a major U.S. city.

Philadelphia plans to sell Internet service for under $20 a month to most residents and for about $10 a month to low-income citizens. The network is part of Mayor John Street’s plan to give all 1.52 million Philadelphians fast Web access for lower prices than those offered by cable-television companies such as Comcast and phone companies including Verizon.

Justice Department

New claim filed against Realtors

U.S. antitrust enforcers, amending a suit against the National Association of Realtors (NAR), said the trade group’s revised policy on Web listing of properties is still anticompetitive.

The new claim, filed yesterday by the Justice Department in federal court in Chicago, said the policy continues to let brokers “opt out” of providing their properties to a multiple-listing service, or MLS, thus giving traditional agents an advantage over discount brokers.

The amended policy allows “traditional brokers to block the customers of Web-based competitors from using the Internet to review the same set of MLS listings that the traditional brokers provide to their customers,” the government said in the new complaint. “It suppresses technological innovation, discourages competition on price and quality and raises barriers to entry.”

The NAR didn’t immediately return a voicemail message left with spokesman Steve Cook seeking comment on the Justice Department’s amended complaint.

The suit will have no effect on the Western Washington real-estate market because the Northwest MLS is not affiliated with the NAR, and does not allow brokers to withhold any listings from full dissemination (unless a property owner declines to have his or her property in the MLS).

Goodyear Tire & Rubber

Production cut after hurricane

Goodyear Tire & Rubber, the world’s biggest tire maker, has cut back production at its North American plants by 30 percent due to Hurricane Rita’s disruption of the raw materials supply. Goodyear shares fell 83 cents yesterday to close at $14.94.

The company is assessing the impact that higher production, raw material and transportation costs will have on financial results in the third and fourth quarters.

The disruption affects nine plants in the United States and three in Canada. Goodyear has 34 tire plants worldwide.

The North American plants produce most of the tires sold there. Goodyear sells more than 200 million tires a year worldwide, and about half are sold in North America, Goodyear spokesman Keith Price said yesterday. He did not know if there would be any temporary layoffs.


Nasdaq may get exchange status

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) yesterday proposed granting exchange status to the Nasdaq Stock Market, a change that would allow the computerized trading system to gain independence from its regulator, the NASD.

The SEC will gather public comment on the proposal for 30 days before making a final determination.

The Nasdaq, created as a subsidiary of the NASD, applied to the SEC to become an exchange in 2000. The application was delayed mainly because of a dispute over how Nasdaq handles orders to buy or sell a stock when it hits a specified price, said a March 29 report by the Congressional Research Service.

Unlike the New York Stock Exchange, which gives priority to the lowest sell and highest buy orders, Nasdaq allows traders to match buy and sell orders from their own order books even if higher buy or lower sell prices are available elsewhere.

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