Among other items: Although Boeing failed to meet its target of 200 orders for the new 7E7 jet in 2004, the jet maker denied yesterday that the program is in trouble; Qwest and its largest employees union have reached an agreement that will keep more than 1,000 customer-service jobs in the union; and Bristol-Myers Squibb...

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Seattle’s RealNetworks, which sells music on the Web, will provide a free radio service to Comcast’s 6.5 million high-speed Internet users to gain customers.

RealNetworks will receive an undisclosed sum to roll out Comcast Rhapsody RadioPlus by July. RealNetworks hopes to persuade Comcast customers to upgrade from the free program to the full, paid service, said Jeff Schrock, a RealNetworks vice president.

The Comcast service will let customers create customized radio stations that play full songs, a service RealNetworks typically sells for $5 a month. Users won’t be able to search for and listen to a specific song without paying for the full Rhapsody product at $10 a month, Schrock said.

RealNetworks has 625,000 subscribers to its Rhapsody music and radio services.

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7E7 goal not met; Boeing unfazed

Although Boeing failed to meet its target of 200 orders for the new 7E7 jet in 2004, the jet maker denied yesterday that the program is in trouble.

“We didn’t make it by a certain date,” said spokeswoman Yvonne Leach. “In the long run, we don’t think that’s going to hurt us at all.”

Boeing announced a total of 126 orders for the 7E7 in 2004; 56 are firm contracts.

That firm-order tally in the nine months since the 7E7’s April launch compares favorably with past Boeing wide-body programs, however.

Only the 747 program had a faster start. Launched in April 1966, the 747 jumbo won 83 firm orders that year.

Leach declined to set a new target date. “We’re on a firm path to 200 orders,” she said.

About $9 million paid for Seattle firm Parker Services

World Health Alternatives bought Parker Services, a Seattle temporary and permanent staffing company, last Friday for about $9 million, the company said yesterday.

No layoffs are planned, and the Parker name will be retained.

World Health, a Pittsburgh-based medical-staffing company, will acquire Parker for $3.2 million in cash, a $4 million note payable over two years and 182,481 shares of World Health common stock issued at $4.11 a share. World Health will also assume $260,000 in Parker debt and pay $800,000 to a Parker minority option holder.

Parker, a private company founded in 1979, had $12 million in sales in 2003.

Targeted Genetics forges partnership with San Diego firm

Targeted Genetics said yesterday it has signed a partnership with Celladon, a private biotech company in San Diego, to co-develop gene therapies for congestive heart failure.

Targeted Genetics will get $6 million by selling about 4 million shares to Enterprise Partners and Venrock Associates, two of Celladon’s largest investors. It will spend $2 million on the congestive-heart-failure work for Celladon and can use the rest of the money for other programs.

Targeted Genetics also will get undisclosed milestone payments for its work and a double-digit percentage royalty stream if any Celladon genes turn into commercial products.


Qwest, union reach deal on jobs

Qwest and its largest employees union have reached an agreement that will keep more than 1,000 customer-service jobs in the union but will pay new hires at a different rate than existing workers.

The pact comes after several months of negotiations, during which the telecommunications company said it wanted to subcontract vacant or new customer-service jobs to cut costs.

It sets a base wage of $10 an hour for newly hired employees, with subsequent raises based on performance. Under the old contract, customer-service workers automatically got raises based on length of service, said Annie Hill, assistant to the vice president of the Communications Workers of America District 7.

Former Cendant official convicted; mistrial in second case

A former top executive at Cendant was convicted yesterday of fraud and other charges, but jurors could not reach a decision about the role of another executive in the case.

E. Kirk Shelton, the company’s former vice chairman, was convicted of 12 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and securities fraud.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Thompson declared a mistrial for former chairman Walter Forbes after jurors said they were unable to reach a verdict on 16 counts.

Shelton, 49, and Forbes, 62, were accused of inflating revenue by $500 million at Cendant’s predecessor, CUC International, to raise the stock price.

Cendant’s brands include Ramada, Howard Johnson, Avis, Coldwell Banker and Century 21.

Drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb may exit consumer products

NEW YORK — Bristol-Myers Squibb is in talks to sell its consumer over-the-counter drug line, which includes pain relievers Excedrin and Bufferin, cold medicine Comtrex and Keri lotions, said published reports.

The pharmaceutical giant, which has struggled to restructure after losing patents on key drugs, is working to shed consumer products as it focuses on drugs to treat and prevent disease, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported last night, citing people familiar with the talks.

The Times said GlaxoSmithKline and some private equity firms were said to be interested.

A Bristol-Myers spokesman declined to comment.

Battery maker Rayovac to buy United Industries

Battery maker Rayovac’s announcement that it will purchase privately held United Industries, maker of lawn-care and pet-supply products, for about $546 million in stock and cash was cheered yesterday by Wall Street as an opportunity by Rayovac to transform itself into a more diversified company. Rayovac shares rose 17 percent to a record high.

The deal will allow Atlanta-based Rayovac to broaden its array of household products, which currently include Remington shavers.

Among United Industries’ brands are Vigoro lawn products and Cutter insect repellant.

Washington Mutual branching out into Connecticut

Washington Mutual plans to open at least eight branches in Connecticut this year as part of its expansion in the New York City metropolitan area.

The Seattle-based banking giant currently has about 1,950 branches, including 233 in the New York area. The first of the Connecticut branches, which will mark the thrift’s debut in that state, are expected to open in the third quarter.

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