Other items: Conversion to begin on historic building; Ovarian cancer target of drug trial; IPO cancellation cited in '04 losses ...

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Pacific Northwest

Flow International

Flow International, which makes ultrahigh-pressure water-jet cutting tools and food-preservation systems, said yesterday it had raised just under $60 million in a private equity sale.

The Kent company sold 17.5 million units at $3.72 apiece to 14 institutional investors; each unit consisted of a share of stock and a warrant for a tenth of a share. The warrants are exercisable at $4.07 a share until 2010. Flow’s stock closed at $5.60 yesterday.

Integrated Healthcare

In a first, company gets outside capital

Integrated Healthcare Systems said it received $9 million in private-equity financing from AIG Horizon Partners Fund and a fund managed by AIG Global Investment Group.

It is the first time the Seattle company, which assists hospitals in bar-coding medications and tracking them from wholesaler to patient bedside, has received outside capital.

Cobb Building

Conversion to begin on historic building

Work will begin tomorrow on the conversion of downtown Seattle’s historic Cobb Building, at Fourth Avenue and University Street, into luxury apartments.

Opened in 1910, the Cobb was the first dedicated medical-dental building west of the Mississippi. When work is completed a year from now, 11 floors will contain 92 high-end apartments averaging 810 square feet each. There will also be three top-floor penthouses with a roof deck. Two lower floors will be reconfigured to provide about 17,000 square feet of retail space.

Unico, the company that announced the conversion two years ago, is overseeing the project.

Cell Therapeutics

Ovarian cancer target of drug trial

Cell Therapeutics said yesterday that a group of leading cancer doctors has started a pivotal clinical trial of Xyotax against ovarian cancer.

The Seattle biotech company reported earlier this month that a 400-patient study of Xyotax failed to reach its goal of prolonging the lives of lung-cancer patients. The company is now awaiting results from two other trials against lung cancer.

American Seafoods

IPO cancellation cited in ’04 losses

American Seafoods reported a net loss of $27.6 million for 2004, compared with a profit of $14.6 million in 2003.

The Seattle company — which harvests, processes and supplies seafood — said the 2004 loss was primarily due to the cancellation last year of an initial public offering, a write-down in the value of its catfish operations, and net unrealized losses on foreign-exchange contracts.

Net sales for the year rose 12.2 percent from $411.4 million in 2003 to $461.7 million in 2004.

For the fourth quarter, American Seafoods posted a loss of $36.3 million, doubling from a loss of $17.6 million in the year-earlier period.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and Bloomberg News

Domestic flights

Most U.S. airlines revive rise in fares

A day after retreating on fare increases, most major U.S. airlines yesterday revived increases of $10 per round trip on many domestic flights to cover the rising cost of jet fuel.

Delta Air Lines, which broke with the price increase Monday, reconsidered overnight and pushed fares higher yesterday morning. Delta’s move was soon copied by Continental Airlines, American Airlines, Northwest Airlines and US Airways.

Among the largest, so-called legacy airlines, that left United Airlines alone at the lower fare levels. Spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said United was still studying the issue yesterday.


Software-license deal made with Symbian

Microsoft signed an agreement allowing its biggest cellphone software rival, Symbian, to deliver e-mail stored with Microsoft’s Exchange program to customers’ phones.

London-based Symbian will update its phone software so users can synchronize e-mail, contacts, calendar and other personal data with corporate server computers that use Microsoft’s Exchange program. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Apple Computer

Online journalists file “shield” appeal

Online journalists who published secrets about Apple Computer filed an appeal yesterday in a case that could have broad implications for the media.

A California judge ruled March 11 that three independent online reporters may have to provide the identities of their confidential sources and that they weren’t protected by “shield laws” that usually protect journalists.

In December, Apple sued 25 unnamed individuals, called “Does” and believed to be Apple employees, who leaked specifications about a product code-named “Asteroid” to Monish Bhatia, Jason O’Grady and another person who writes under the pseudonym Kasper Jade. Their articles appeared in the online publications Apple Insider and PowerPage.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said the company had no comment on the appeal.


Streamlining effort means 2,000 job cuts

Alcoa said yesterday it will cut 2,000 jobs over the next year as the aluminum maker streamlines its operations to become more competitive. The company is also selling its minority stake in a Norwegian metals and energy group for about $870 million.

The cuts in some of Alcoa’s North American, European and South American operations will result in after-tax charges of $20 million to $25 million, but should save the company $45 million a year. Alcoa has about 131,000 workers in 43 countries.

Alcoa reshaped its corporate structure last year to create six worldwide business units, such as alumina, automotive and aerospace. The company had previously based its structure more regionally, which led to duplicate tasks in North America, Asia, or Europe, company officials said.


Entertainment chief at Fox abruptly quits

In a surprise move that stunned high-flying Fox, Gail Berman, the network’s entertainment chief, has resigned to take a top production post at Paramount Pictures.

Fox yesterday did not officially confirm her departure, a sure sign that the Berman exit was neither anticipated nor welcome. And indeed, the timing was unusual: In the middle of a torrid “American Idol” run, Fox will almost certainly finish the season easily ahead of NBC in crucial 18-to-49 ratings.

Meanwhile, the network is in the midst of developing new shows; suffice it to say, this is not an opportune time for Fox to hunt for a new boss.

Nevertheless, Berman — who is particularly well-regarded at a network that has chewed up and spit out a number of presidents over the years — had been negotiating with Fox to renew her contract, which concludes this June.

A spokesman yesterday declined to comment.

IBM / Compuware

Settlement reached on confidentiality

Five weeks into a trial over its alleged theft of intellectual property and monopolistic behavior, IBM has settled with software maker Compuware in a case that centered on whether corporate confidentiality agreements were violated.

The plaintiff had claimed that, obtaining trade secrets from former Compuware employees it hired, Big Blue was able to drastically speed development of competing software products for mainframe computers.

As part of the agreement announced yesterday, IBM will license $140 million worth of Compuware software over four years. It also has offered to purchase $260 million worth of Compuware services over four years.


Prosecutors confirm criminal inquiry

Federal prosecutors confirmed for the first time yesterday they are conducting a criminal investigation of newspaper tycoon Conrad Black, his former top deputy, David Radler, and Hollinger Inc.

The government acknowledged the investigation in court papers in which it asked to intervene in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit filed in November against Black, Radler and Hollinger. The SEC alleges they engaged in a “fraudulent and deceptive scheme” to take cash and other assets from Chicago-based Hollinger International, the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times, and concealing the actions from shareholders.

Compiled from The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service