Pacific Northwest has purchased, a seller of electronic books and the software for reading them on handheld computers...

Share story

Pacific Northwest

Online retailer buys book-software seller has purchased, a seller of electronic books and the software for reading them on handheld computers and wireless phones.

Paris-based was acquired March 30 by the Seattle-based Internet retailer, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Franklin Electronic Publishers, which owned a stake in the French company. Terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed.

Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith said’s technology was attractive: “We felt it was a smart fit for us.” She declined to say how would be integrated with Amazon’s operations.

Port of Prince Rupert

Construction to start on port terminal

British Columbia has won government funding that will allow construction to start next month on a $172 million ($138 million U.S.) port terminal near Alaska, creating a new shipping route for Asian imports.

The Port of Prince Rupert will let shippers bypass Los Angeles and Vancouver, B.C. Cargo destined for the West Coast was stalled for as long as two weeks in the past year amid record imports.

“We have the potential to almost double our share of West Coast container traffic and create up to 45,000 new maritime jobs over the next 15 years,” Premier Gordon Campbell said in a statement.

The Port wants to build a terminal that can initially handle 400,000 standard-sized shipping containers by next year.


Computer maker looks for accountant

Seattle-based supercomputer maker Cray said yesterday it is searching for a new accounting firm to replace Deloitte & Touche, which decided not to stand for re-election as Cray’s auditor.

Cray said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the decision was not caused by any disagreement between Cray and Deloitte & Touche on any matter of accounting principles or practices, financial-statement disclosure or auditing scope or procedure. Deloitte & Touche’s reports on Cray’s financial statements for the past two fiscal years contain no adverse opinion or disclaimer of opinion and were not qualified.

Compiled from Bloomberg News

and Seattle Times business staff

Polo Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren blames glitch, says data OK

NEW YORK — Clothing retailer Polo Ralph Lauren said yesterday that a glitch in its software that set off an alert about the theft of credit-card information has been repaired.

Spokeswoman Nancy Murray said that the New York-based company was notified last fall that fraudulent charges were showing up on some credit cards. Bank-card issuers, she said, asked Polo Ralph Lauren to check its records.

She said “a forensic investigation of our systems showed there was no evidence of an internal or external breach.”

Nonetheless, HSBC North America, a division of London-based HSBC Holdings, said yesterday it was continuing to notify holders of the HSBC-issued, General Motors-branded MasterCard that criminals may have obtained access to their credit-card information and that the cards should be replaced.

Wal-Mart Stores

Ex-exec’s benefits frozen amid probe

LITTLE ROCK — Wal-Mart Stores disclosed yesterday that it has frozen millions of dollars in benefits for former vice chairman Tom Coughlin, who resigned from Wal-Mart’s board amid allegations of improper spending and a possible government investigation.

According to a regulatory filing, Wal-Mart has suspended Coughlin’s vesting of 186,407 shares of restricted stock, worth $9.77 million at the end of the company’s last fiscal year, and 302,503 stock options exercisable within 60 days “pending further review of the information developed in the investigation” that led to his departure.

Wal-Mart would not comment on the filing.


Gadget retailer agrees to purchase

MERRIMACK, N.H. — Brookstone, a retailer of high-end gadgets, yesterday said it agreed to be acquired by a group of investors comprising two Singapore companies and a domestic private-equity firm for $20.50 per share, in a deal worth about $445 million.

Brookstone said the consortium is led by OSIM International, a Singapore-listed retailer of massage chairs and other health-focused products, JW Childs Associates of Boston, and Temasek Holdings, the investment arm of the Singapore government.


Cost reduction trims grocery chain’s loss

Kroger, the largest U.S. grocer, trimmed the cost of writing down the value of two chains, reducing its fourth-quarter loss by 4 cents a share.

The net loss in the quarter ended Jan. 29 was reduced to 89 cents a share rather than the 93 cents reported in a preliminary statement last month, Cincinnati-based Kroger said yesterday. The company lost 45 cents a share a year earlier.

Kroger, which operates more than 2,500 supermarkets including QFC and Fred Meyer stores, wrote down the value of its Ralphs and Food 4 Less chains after a Southern California strike that ended last year hurt sales.


Firm to pay millions to settle probe, suit

Raytheon, the maker of Hawker and Beechcraft business jets, offered to pay $12 million to settle a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of accounting practices at its aircraft unit. Chief Financial Officer Edward Pliner was placed on paid administrative leave.

A $39 million settlement was also reached on a shareholder class-action lawsuit over the 2000 sale of its construction and engineering business to Washington Group International, Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon said in a statement yesterday. The shareholders had claimed Raytheon hid cost overruns at the unit.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News