A San Diego investment firm and a Seattle developer announced plans Thursday to build a 93,000-square-foot biotech-lab facility in South Lake Union.

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A San Diego investment firm and a Seattle developer announced plans Thursday to build a 93,000-square-foot biotech-lab facility in South Lake Union.

Although there is no declared tenant, the site at Fairview Avenue and Mercer Street has long been pegged as biotech space.

The property was bought last year by BioMed Realty Trust in partnership with Seattle developer Tom Erlandson. The partners said they would break ground next year.

It is unusual for any buildings, but especially expensive lab space, to start construction before a significant portion of the space has committed tenants. And with Seattle’s biotech industry in a lull, there’s about 300,000 square feet of space available in the downtown and First Hill areas.

There is also competition for new construction. Paul Allen’s real-estate company, Vulcan, and Schnitzer Northwest are seeking tenants for two large buildings planned just a block away that could combine laboratory and office space.

Getty Images

Earnings expected to be on lower end

Getty Images said Thursday that it expects 2005 earnings and revenue to be at the lower end of its previous forecast range because of gains in the U.S. dollar.

The Seattle company, the No. 1 provider of stock photography and images, had previously forecast earnings of $2.24 to $2.27 a share on revenue of $735 million to $739 million.

At a meeting with analysts in New York, Chief Financial Officer Liz Huebner said she was more comfortable with the lower end of the forecast because the dollar has strengthened 2 to 3 percent since Getty first made its forecast, and 40 percent of the company’s business is outside the United States.

Getty’s stock fell 76 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $89.15 Thursday.

ID Biomedical

Glaxo acquisition moves a bit closer

ID Biomedical has cleared the final regulatory hurdles to become a wholly owned subsidiary of London-based GlaxoSmithKline, the companies said Thursday.

The Canadian vaccine maker, which has a 100-person research operation in Bothell, will be delisted from Nasdaq in the next several days.

The acquisition, valued at slightly more than $1.4 billion, is expected to increase Glaxo’s flu-vaccine production capacity to about 150 million doses by the end of the decade.

Precious metals

Gold prices up, rally is extended

Gold prices in New York rose for a sixth straight session, extending a rally to a 24-year high, amid speculation that central banks may be buying the precious metal to bolster reserve assets.

Gold rose $5 to $519.30 on Thursday, just a week after breaking through the $500 barrier.

Credit Suisse raised its forecast for 2006 to $486 an ounce from $450.

GFMS, a precious-metals research group, was even more bullish.

“Gold could rise to $850 in the next 18 months, as the dollar is likely to come under renewed pressure,” Paul Walker, chief executive of GFMS, said at the Gold Investment Summit in London on Thursday.

Virgin America

Airline files petition for U.S. certification

The Virgin brand’s new U.S.-based low-fare airline on Thursday submitted an application for federal certification after lining up $177.3 million in financing that was led by a group of U.S. investors who will assume majority ownership of the carrier.

The bulk of the equity and debt behind Virgin America — $88.9 million — will come from VAI Partners, the company said in a filing with the Department of Transportation (DOT). London-based Virgin Group will become a minority shareholder.

U.S. law forbids foreigners from owning more than 49 percent of the equity or 24.9 percent of the voting power of a domestic carrier.

Virgin America is scheduled to launch transcontinental service in 2006.

Electronic Arts

Deal made to buy Jamdat Mobile

Video-game giant Electronic Arts (EA) has agreed to acquire mobile-game provider Jamdat Mobile in a deal worth approximately $680 million, the companies said Thursday.

The acquisition, which is expected to close in EA’s fiscal fourth quarter, which ends March 31, would quickly give the world’s leading video-game publisher a stronger foothold in the growing and lucrative mobile-game market, estimated to be about $1 billion globally.

Jamdat, based in Los Angeles with 350 employees worldwide, is one of the world’s leading publishers in wireless-entertainment applications. Its portfolio includes hit cellphone games such as Tetris, Bejeweled, and Jamdat Bowling.

Delta Air Lines

Union votes to ask pilots to OK strike

The executive committee of the pilots union at Delta Air Lines voted unanimously Thursday to ask rank-and-file members to authorize a strike as the airline seeks to impose $325 million in concessions on them.

The vote comes as the nation’s third-largest airline, which filed for bankruptcy protection in New York on Sept. 14, has asked the court to reject the pilots contract so it can impose the concessions on its 6,000 pilots, which would include a 19 percent pay cut.

Delta lawyers have asserted in court that the company could impose new contract terms on its pilots starting next Friday even if the judge doesn’t rule on Delta’s contract-rejection request by then. It’s not clear what Delta’s position would be if the judge extends the hearings beyond that date.

Dunkin’ Donuts

2 bids to buy chain expected, report says

Two groups of private-equity firms plan to submit bids Thursday to buy Dunkin’ Donuts, the nation’s biggest coffee-and-doughnut chain, from the French company that acquired it as part of a bigger deal last summer, two people familiar with the groups’ plans said.

Thursday was the deadline to submit bids to buy Dunkin’ Brands, which was purchased by France’s Pernod Ricard in July as part of its $13 billion acquisition of Britain’s Allied Domecq.

In addition to Dunkin’ Donuts, Dunkin’ Brands owns the Baskin-Robbins and Togo’s restaurant chains. The three units collectively generated $4.8 billion in global revenue last year.

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