Other items: 2 resignations leave 9 on Safeco board; Up to 20 NYSE specialists under investigation; and others.

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RealNetworks’ stock rose 20.7 percent yesterday after a published report touted the company’s subscription-music offering.

Shares of the Seattle company were up $1.17 to close at $6.83 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. RealNetworks’ stock, a high-flying Wall Street darling during the Internet bubble, has traded between $4.39 and $7.27 over the past year.

A report in the financial journal Barron’s said RealNetworks is an “inexpensive bet” because of its 40 percent stake in the music-subscription market that writer Andrew Bary contended is showing more promise.

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2 resignations leave 9 on board

Norm Rice and William Krippaehne resigned last Wednesday as directors of Safeco, in keeping with the insurance company’s policy that when board members leave their primary position, they must resign from Safeco’s board of directors.

Krippaehne stepped down last month as chief executive of the broadcasting firm Fisher Communications, and former Seattle Mayor Rice announced last week he will resign as head of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle effective March 15.

Safeco’s board has modified its bylaws to reduce its number of directors to nine, the number it has after the resignations.

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Up to 20 specialists under investigation

As many as 20 individual specialists on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) are under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly using illegal trading practices to cheat customers, a source close to the case confirmed yesterday.

The NYSE began investigating the specialists — the auctioneers who manage buying and selling of particular stocks — in 2002, and the SEC got involved after determining the Big Board was not being aggressive enough.


Auctioneer reduces some listing fees

eBay, the world’s largest Internet auctioneer, cut some listing fees by 17 percent and said it will increase customer service, after being criticized for increases announced last month.

The lowest listing fee was reduced to 25 cents from 30 cents on items such as music CDs and books, the company said yesterday on its Internet site. Compiled from The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and Seattle Times business staff