Pacific Northwest Former Safeco Chief Executive Mike McGavick has been named to the top job at XL Capital, a Bermuda-based insurance and...

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Former Safeco Chief Executive Mike McGavick has been named to the top job at XL Capital, a Bermuda-based insurance and reinsurance company.

McGavick is to replace Brian O’Hara on May 1. O’Hara, who has been XL’s CEO for 13 years, announced in October that he planned to retire by mid-2008.

McGavick was president and CEO of Seattle-based Safeco from 2001 to the end of 2005. He subsequently ran for the U.S. Senate but lost to incumbent Maria Cantwell.

XL Capital had assets of $57.8 billion as of Dec. 31.

Washington Mutual

Court orders feds to pay company

Washington Mutual won a $382 million judgment against the federal government over promises made during the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1980s.

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., on Friday ordered the government to pay the damages, according to court records. The breach-of-contract lawsuit stemmed from a Washington Mutual unit’s purchase of Anchor Savings Bank in 1995.

The suit is one of more than 100 centering on promises federal regulators made to encourage healthy banks to take over distressed savings and loans. The Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that thrift owners could collect damages from the government for a 1989 accounting change that forced many previously healthy institutions into bankruptcy.

“It will be some time before a true decision is known,” because the government probably will appeal, said Washington Mutual spokesman Derek Aney.


Delta-NW merger hits union snag

Delta Air Lines’ pilots union has told company executives it has been unable to agree on seniority issues with its counterpart at Northwest Airlines, raising serious doubts about the prospect of a combination of the two companies.

The disclosure was made Monday afternoon in a letter from the head of the pilots union at Delta, Lee Moak, to rank-and-file Delta pilots.

The letter does not mention Northwest, but describes the union that Delta’s pilots had been negotiating with as the only one they were focused on talking with. Multiple officials close to the talks have said in recent months that the other company was Northwest Airlines Corp.

The letter talks about the discussions with the other carrier in the past tense, suggesting at least for now there won’t be further talks.


New trial ordered for former CEO

A federal appeals court ordered a new trial Monday for former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio, saying the trial judge wrongly excluded expert testimony important to Nacchio’s defense in his insider-trading case.

The court also ordered a new judge to hear Nacchio’s case.

Nacchio was convicted in April on 19 counts involving the sale of $52 million worth of Qwest stock in 2001. He was sentenced to six years in prison but remained free on appeal. Jurors acquitted Nacchio of 23 counts.

Prosecutors argued Nacchio sold the stock when he knew Denver-based Qwest Communications International Inc. was at financial risk but didn’t tell investors. U.S. Attorney Troy Eid had called the case the largest insider-trading prosecution in the nation based on the number of counts, the amount of money involved and the length of the prison term.

CME / Nymex

Futures exchanges agree to buyout

The parent company of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board of Trade said Monday it would buy the New York Mercantile Exchange in a $9.4 billion cash-and-stock deal that melds the nation’s two largest futures exchanges.

CME agreed to pay $3.4 billion in cash and about $6 billion in stock for Nymex as part of the buyout that was first discussed earlier this year.

The combined company will continue to operate electronic and open-outcry trading platforms in both New York and Chicago, as long as the New York trading floor meets certain revenue and profit requirements, executives said.


More executive turnover reported

Motorola has replaced two executives in the U.S. and overseas as part of its continuing effort to turn around the troubled company.

The equipment-maker said Monday that Larry Raymond is the new treasurer, replacing Steve Strobel, who had been with Motorola for five years. And Stephen Nolan was named head of mobile devices for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, succeeding Mike Fenger, who left “to pursue other opportunities,” Motorola said.

Motorola Chief Executive Greg Brown has made several high-profile personnel changes since taking his position in January.

He hired a chief financial officer and head of human resources, and also took direct control of the mobile-devices division, which is suffering from declining sales and market share.

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