Hainan Airlines, China's fourth-biggest carrier, signed an order yesterday to buy eight Boeing 787 planes, valued at about $1 billion at list prices.

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Hainan Airlines, China’s fourth-biggest carrier, signed an order yesterday to buy eight Boeing 787 planes, valued at about $1 billion at list prices.

The first of the planes will be delivered before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the companies said in a statement. The order was part of an agreement announced in January for six Chinese airlines to buy 60 787s.


DVD metal cases subject of lawsuit

Denmark packaging company Glud & Marstrand (G&M) sued Microsoft last week in Washington federal court over the metal DVD cases that were used to house the “Halo 2” Xbox video game.

G&M said it owns the confidential technology related to the creation and manufacturing of the metal cases using existing automated machinery. In its lawsuit, G&M said Microsoft gave confidential G&M information to another company, Viva Group, which was then able to produce the metal DVD cases.

G&M is asking that Microsoft and Viva immediately stop using its technology and pay unspecified damages.

Microsoft has not yet responded to the complaint in court.


Company buys ID software maker

Microsoft said it has acquired Alacris to expand its identity-verification business. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Closely held Alacris makes software that helps companies manage security systems, including smart cards and digital certificates, said Michael Atalla, Microsoft’s group product manager of Windows security.

Software manufacturers are boosting security products as attacks by hackers continue to rise.

Alacris, based in Ottawa, Ontario, employs 24 workers.

Separately yesterday, Microsoft said it sued eight companies that it claims distributed counterfeit copies of some of its software.

Microsoft said two of the companies are in violation of earlier settlements. Copies of Windows XP Professional, Office XP Professional and Office 2000 were among the phony products Microsoft claims were distributed.

Longview Generation

Mirant sells plant for $17.2 million

Bankrupt power producer Mirant agreed to sell an unfinished, gas-fired power plant in Longview to Longview Generation for $17.2 million as it tries to exit bankruptcy proceedings, according to papers filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mirant acquired the 300-megawatt project from Avista and began constructing the plant in 2001. It suspended work on the project soon after and since 2003 has been trying to sell it. Longview Generation is affiliated with EBF & Associates, a Minnesota investment firm, court papers said.

Mirant will hold an auction to seek a better price for the assets Oct. 17, as is typical in many bankruptcy sales.


Deal made to buy Peregrine Systems

Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest maker of computer printers, agreed to buy Peregrine Systems for $425 million to add software for companies to manage their computer systems.

The purchase will help Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd follow through on his promise to make the money-losing software unit profitable this quarter.

Shares of Hewlett-Packard, also the No. 2 maker of personal computers, rose 54 cents to $28.88 yesterday. Peregrine rose $6.22, or 33 percent, to $25.32.

Hewlett-Packard also agreed yesterday to buy AppIQ, a maker of software to manage data-storage networks. Terms were not disclosed.

Prudential Securities

Broker pleads guilty to fraudulent trades

A former Prudential Securities broker pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to wire and securities fraud for his role in a market timing scheme that netted him more than $1 million in commissions.

Martin Druffner, 36, was a member of a group of brokers who made fraudulent trades in mutual funds from 1999 until October 2003 on behalf of seven hedge-fund clients, prosecutors said.

Druffner used false identities and changed account numbers to continue executing market timing trades after certain mutual funds had blocked them or their customers from such trading, prosecutors said.

Market timing is the use of quick trades that skim profits from longer-term shareholders, often taking advantage of different closing times for markets around the world.

The investigation is ongoing.


Plant closings may be possible

Maytag said yesterday it expects to record a loss before restructuring charges in the third quarter as well as significantly lower earnings for the full year, and suggested plant closings might be possible.

The burden “of high manufacturing overhead, increasing distribution and fuel expenses, and rising raw material costs are the primary driver” of cost increases that are weighing on earnings, the company said in a statement.

Whirlpool officially notified the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice last week of its intent to buy Maytag in a cash-and-stock deal valued at more than $1.7 billion.

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