Microsoft may be the target of a new partnership between Google and Sun Microsystems that sent speculation through the tech industry yesterday.

Share story

Microsoft may be the target of a new partnership between Google and Sun Microsystems that sent speculation through the tech industry yesterday.

Google and Sun were tight-lipped about the “collaboration” they’ll announce at 10:30 a.m. today, but Goldman Sachs said it would be logical for the two to work together on productivity software that would compete with Microsoft’s dominant Office product. News of the announcement boosted Sun stock 6.6 percent, or 26 cents, to $4.19 yesterday.

Sun has long tried to unseat Office and last week released a new version of its competing StarOffice product. Google has been upgrading its Gmail e-mail service with some features similar to Office’s Outlook product.

“Sun and Google could easily architect a version of StarOffice that could be delivered over the Internet much as Google hosts Gmail and instant messaging today,” Goldman analyst Rick Sherlund wrote, speculating that such a service would appeal more to casual users than business customers.

Flow International

Subsidiary sold for $15.3 million

Flow International said yesterday that it would sell its wholly owned Avure Technologies subsidiary and other assets to Gores Technology Group, a Los Angeles private equity firm, for $15.3 million.

Kent-based Flow, a maker of ultrahigh-pressure waterjet products for industrial use, said the deal is expected to close by the end of next month.

Avure, which is headquartered in Kent and has operations in Ohio and Sweden, makes presses used in manufacturing everything from helicopter rotors to guacamole. The company has 101 employees, including 18 in Kent.

Gores “hasn’t said anything publicly” about its plans for the Avure employees, said John Leness, Flow’s general counsel.

Flow said the divestiture, which will leave it with 700 employees worldwide and 210 locally, will help it focus on its core waterjet business.

Washington Mutual

Providian deal now complete

Washington Mutual completed its acquisition of credit-card company Providian Financial on Saturday.

Providian CEO Joseph Saunders will remain in San Francisco and become president of the newly named Washington Mutual Card Services Division, reporting to WaMu Chief Operating Officer Steve Rotella.

WaMu will introduce Washington Mutual-branded credit cards over the next year.

Plum Creek Timber

Deal made to buy Michigan property

Plum Creek Timber agreed to buy 650,000 acres in Michigan from Escanada Timber for about $345 million. Seattle-based Plum Creek, a real-estate investment trust, said the acquisition will be completed this quarter. The company has 8 million acres of forests.

Associated Grocers

John Runyan named president

Northwest food wholesaler Associated Grocers yesterday named John Runyan president and chief executive. Runyan will also serve as vice chairman of the company’s board of directors.

He replaces former CEO Bob Hermanns, who stepped down last week. The company would not give a reason for Hermanns’ departure.

Associated Grocers, which supplies independent grocers such as Larry’s Market and Red Apple, said in April that it would explore options for the company, including a possible sale. The company plans to briefly delay any action until Runyan has time to assess its strategy.

Runyan comes from Fleming, a Texas-based food distributor and retailer, where he spent a 38-year career before retiring in 2001. He last served as a senior officer at the company’s headquarters, where he oversaw several divisions, including retail stores Megamarket and Piggly Wiggly and its Western U.S. distribution centers.

Dex Media

State gets new directory provider

R.H. Donnelley Corp., publisher of Yellow Pages in 19 U.S. states, agreed to buy Dex Media for $4.2 billion to add telephone directories in 14 states, including Washington.

Cary, N.C.-based Donnelley will also assume $5.3 billion in debt, the companies said.

Colorado-based Dex is the white and Yellow Pages publisher for Qwest.

Tyco International

Executives remain jailed during appeal

A judge yesterday refused to release former Tyco International executives L. Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz on bail while they appeal their convictions on charges of stealing some $600 million from the company.

The order was signed by Justice Angela Mazzarelli of the State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division in Manhattan. Mazzarelli heard the pair’s bail applications and arguments on Sept. 20.

Kozlowski, 58, and Swartz, 45, have been in custody since they were sentenced Sept. 19 to 8-1/3 to 25 years in prison. They were convicted in June on first-degree grand-larceny and other charges related to accusations they stole $180 million outright and improperly made some $430 million by manipulating Tyco’s stock value.

NTL / Telewest Global

Merger connects 2 cable companies

NTL is acquiring Telewest Global in a $6 billion deal to create Britain’s second-largest communications company, the two firms announced yesterday.

NTL and Telewest will issue bonds equivalent to $3.2 billion to finance the cash portion of the transaction, NTL Chief Executive Simon Duffy said yesterday in a conference call with journalists.

The combined companies will have nearly 5 million residential subscribers and annual revenues of $6 billion.

The merger climaxes a long shakeout for the cable industry in Britain, where more than 100 companies have dwindled to three.

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