Microsoft said Wednesday that its board boosted the company's quarterly dividend by 1 cent, to 9 cents a share. Shareholders who hold the stock as of Feb. 17 will be paid March 9.

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Microsoft said Wednesday that its board boosted the company’s quarterly dividend by 1 cent, to 9 cents a share. Shareholders who hold the stock as of Feb. 17 will be paid March 9.



group restructured

Microsoft has restructured its Entertainment & Devices Division into four units, said Robbie Bach, president of the division, in an e-mail to employees Wednesday. Bryan Lee, previously the chief financial officer of Microsoft’s Home & Entertainment Group, will lead the overall entertainment business, including music and video. Peter Moore, who led Xbox marketing, will lead the interactive-entertainment business, including the Xbox group. Tom Gibbons and Pieter Knook will continue to lead the consumer hardware and software and the mobile and device groups, respectively.

In the memo, obtained by The Seattle Times, Bach said three new groups in the division will work across the four units. Those groups will be focused on game experiences and design, retail sales and marketing, and media and content.


Rivals cooperating

on Internet lab

Google and Microsoft are setting aside their bitter animosity to back a new Internet research laboratory aimed at helping entrepreneurs introduce more groundbreaking ideas to a mass audience.

Sun Microsystems also is joining the $7.5 million project at the University of California, Berkeley. The Reliable, Adaptive and Distributed Systems, or RAD, lab was scheduled to open today and will dole out $1.5 million annually over five years.

The lab plans to develop an array of Web-based software services that will be given away to anyone who wants them.


More layoffs due

at computer maker

In its second round of layoffs in six months, Seattle supercomputer maker Cray is cutting 65 positions, mostly in Canada and Europe.

That will save the company $4 million a year, Cray said in a regulatory filing yesterday.

In June, Cray cut 90 jobs. The latest cuts will occur mostly by March 31.

Portland General Electric

Regulators OK

share distribution

Enron’s plan to distribute shares of its Portland General Electric unit to creditors was approved by Oregon state regulators.

Portland General’s stock is set to become publicly traded following an initial distribution of shares in April, according to the plan approved Wednesday.

Enron, which collapsed into bankruptcy in 2001, turned to the stock-distribution plan after its proposed sale of Portland General to Texas Pacific Group was blocked by regulators. Enron also rebuffed the city of Portland’s subsequent attempt to buy the utility.

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



Health-care deal’s

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details revealed

Ford’s retired autoworkers will start making monthly health-care contributions and pay deductibles as part of a tentative agreement the automaker reached with the United Auto Workers (UAW), which provided details of the plan Wednesday.

The agreement raises the cost of prescription drugs and requires hourly workers to make a contribution to a retirement fund. It exempts about 28,000 retired autoworkers whose Ford pension income is $8,000 a year or less.

It also requires Ford to invest $900 million over five years into plant improvements and advanced-technology initiatives, such as building hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles.

The agreement is expected to save Ford $850 million annually on a pretax basis, the UAW said.

The UAW announced over the weekend that it had reached the deal with Ford, but details were withheld until Wednesday, after the UAW presented the deal to local union leaders. The agreement is subject to ratification by active members. Voting is scheduled to end Dec. 22.

General Dynamics

Defense contractor

plans to buy Anteon

Defense contractor General Dynamics moved to bolster its presence in the information-technology market, announcing plans Wednesday to acquire defense and IT firm Anteon International for $2.1 billion.

General Dynamics, which makes nuclear submarines, tanks and command-and-control systems, said the deal would immediately boost its earnings.

Anteon designs systems for national defense, intelligence, homeland security and other government needs.

Anteon shares rose $13.25, or 32 percent, to close at $54.02 Wednesday. General Dynamics shares fell 41 cents to close at $111.68.


Sandwich shops

reportedly for sale

Sandwich chain Quiznos will be put up for sale, sources told The Wall Street Journal late Wednesday.

The price could be more than $2 billion, The Journal said, and sources told the paper Goldman Sachs will direct the sale.

Quiznos officials weren’t available to comment, The Journal said.

Constellation Energy

Talks about sale

boost shares

Shares of power-plant operator Constellation Energy surged Wednesday on news that Florida power company FPL Group is in talks to buy Constellation for more than $11 billion in a deal that would create a huge conglomerate stretching from Maine to Florida.

The New York Times, citing people briefed on the negotiations, reported Wednesday that the negotiations could lead to an announcement within the next two weeks, although the sources cautioned that talks also could collapse.

Constellation Energy Group owns Baltimore Gas & Electric, the utility serving the Baltimore metropolitan region, and 10 power plants throughout the country.

Shares of Constellation rose $4.83 to close at $61.10 Wednesday.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News