Other items: Mars buys stock in bioscience firm; Coinstar purchases phone-card firm; Bellevue firm makes another acquisition ...

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Pacific Northwest

Seattle Premium Outlets

Seattle Premium Outlets will hold a job fair Tuesday, not today as incorrectly reported yesterday.

Employers are hiring for more than 500 retail positions ranging from sales to management at the 100-store center, which opens in May at the Tulalip Tribes’ commercial center, Quil Ceda Village.

The fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Tulalip Indian Reservation’s gymnasium, 6700 Totem Beach Road, Tulalip.

Vanson HaloSource

Mars buys stock in bioscience firm

Mars, the closely held manufacturer of M&M’s chocolate candies and Pedigree dog food, has invested $3 million in Redmond-based Vanson HaloSource, a small manufacturer of chemical technology used to purify water.

Vanson received the investment by selling Series B preferred stock to Mars in a private transaction, according to a Feb. 23 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Neither Mars nor Vanson has shares that trade on a stock market.

Michelle Weese, a Mars spokeswoman, said Vanson’s water-purifying technology has possible applications for the company’s pet division and for Mars’ vending-machine coffee products.


Coinstar purchases phone-card firm

Coinstar bought Kennewick-based Mundo Communications Network, a prepaid phone- and wireless-card company, for an unspecified amount yesterday as part of its effort to diversify its business.

Bellevue-based Coinstar, which operates coin-counting machines, has introduced gift cards, prepaid Mastercard, electronic payroll service and prepaid wireless airtime over the past two years to raise revenue and attract customers.

Mundo, which operates under the name El Toro Prepaid, sells prepaid long-distance phone cards, Mastercards, wireless airtime and gift cards through about 2,300 convenience stores, truck stops and retailers in Western states. The 19-employee company will remain in Kennewick.

Home Technologies

Bellevue firm makes another acquisition

Home Technologies, a Bellevue company that designs and installs home audio, security and video systems, purchased Metropolitan Audio Video for an undisclosed amount of cash and stock yesterday.

Seattle-based Metropolitan engineers and installs home video, lighting, audio, security and climate-control systems.

The purchase is Home Technologies’ third in less than a year.

T&W Financial

Former exec pleads guilty to bank fraud

Paul Luke, a former executive at T&W Financial in Tacoma, pleaded guilty to bank fraud yesterday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

The charges accuse Luke of creating a sham lease agreement in 1999 to draw more than $1 million from a line of credit with Bank of America, money that was used to pay employees at the equipment-leasing company.

T&W filed for bankruptcy in 2000.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and Bloomberg News

National and World


Intruder accesses data on 32,000

Using stolen passwords from legitimate customers, intruders accessed personal information on as many as 32,000 U.S. citizens in a database owned by the information broker LexisNexis, the company said.

The announcement yesterday comes on the heels of a series of similar high-profile breaches, the most serious affecting another large data broker, ChoicePoint in which scores of identities were stolen.

ImClone Systems

Friends of ex-CEO charged with fraud

A physician credited with pioneering cancer-treatment research and another friend of jailed ImClone Systems founder and former Chief Executive Samuel Waksal were charged yesterday with securities fraud in the same stock scandal that brought down Martha Stewart.

Zvi Fuks, 68, chairman of radiation oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, and Sabina Ben-Yehuda, 51, an Israeli citizen living in New York City, were arrested on charges stemming from sales of ImClone stock on Dec. 27, 2001.

Prosecutors alleged Fuks, a former member of ImClone’s scientific advisory board, and Ben-Yehuda made the sales after they were tipped by Waksal that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would not review ImClone’s experimental cancer drug, Erbitux.


4th-quarter profit turns around from ’04

Video-chain Blockbuster reported a slim profit for the fourth quarter yesterday in contrast to a loss a year ago, but said it would restate certain financials to correct lease accounting errors. Its shares rose more than 8 percent.

The company also said it has extended its nearly $1 billion offer for rival Hollywood Entertainment to March 24 from its previous expiration date of Friday.

The board of Hollywood Entertainment, based in Wilsonville, Ore., has told shareholders they should reject Blockbuster’s bid in favor of a lower offer valued at about $900 million from a third video-rental company, Movie Gallery.

Blockbuster shares rose 72 cents, or 8.3 percent, to close at $9.44 yesterday. Its shares have ranged from $6.50 to $18.24 in trading over the past 52 weeks.


8% increase raises yearly profit forecast

European Aeronautic Defense & Space (EADS) posted an 8 percent increase in fourth-quarter net profit yesterday and raised its profit forecast for 2005 amid an improving commercial-aircraft market.

EADS, which owns 80 percent of Airbus, said net profit rose to $580 million in October-December from $537.7 million in the year-earlier period.

However, the results appeared to fall short of investors’ expectations, and EADS shares fell 1.6 percent.

Compiled from The Associated Press