Pacific Northwest A troubled condo-turned-apartment complex under construction across the street from Seattle Center has been sold for ...

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Pacific Northwest

Real estate

A troubled condo-turned-apartment complex under construction across the street from Seattle Center has been sold for $47.8 million to a California real-estate developer.

Seattle-based Intracorp sold the Expo 62 project at Second Avenue North and John Street to Sobrato Development of Cupertino, Calif., according to county records.

Expo 62 was designed as 114 condos, but Intracorp said in January that only 17 units had been purchased and that the project would be converted to apartments and sold. Several other new projects originally planned as condos have made the same switch as that market has cooled and demand for rentals has surged.

Sobrato owns 32 apartment complexes on the West Coast and 86 office and research-and-development buildings in Silicon Valley, according to the company’s Web site.

Amazon.com

Net retailer may start selling wine

Seattle-based Amazon.com is seeking a wine buyer and may start offering the beverage as part of a new line of groceries.

The Internet retailer started advertising on its Web site Feb. 27 for a senior wine buyer in its specialty-foods group. The Seattle-based buyer would be responsible for the “acquisition of massive new product selection,” building it “from the ground up.”

Amazon posted an ad for a delivery driver Feb. 1. “Dry goods, produce, dairy, and beverages including wine and beer are part of this exciting extension of our business model,” the company said in the ad for the driver.

Amazon spokeswoman Patricia Smith declined further comment Wednesday.

Blue Nile

New CEO to earn $450,000 and more

Blue Nile’s newly appointed chief executive, Diane Irvine, will receive a base annual salary of $450,000 and a 2008 target bonus of $300,000, the Seattle company disclosed in a regulatory filing Wednesday.

Irvine, who had been president before her February promotion to CEO, also was awarded an option to purchase 180,000 Blue Nile shares for $44.44 each, the stock’s closing price on the date the grants were made, the company said.

Blue Nile founder Mark Vadon gave up the CEO title last month for a newly created position of executive chairman. The online diamond retailer said his annual base salary will be $250,000, with a 2008 target bonus of $250,000. He was awarded an option to buy 28,571 shares, also for $44.44 each.

Coldwater Creek

Retailer’s pullback sends shares down

Coldwater Creek, the clothing retailer for women 35 and older, fell 17.7 percent in after-hours trading Wednesday after announcing that it was reining in store openings and posting a sales forecast that trailed analysts’ estimates.

The Sandpoint, Idaho, retailer said it’s “moderating” expansion plans and opening about 50 stores this year. The company forecast sales of $1.05 billion to $1.13 billion for the 12 months ending in February 2009, missing analysts’ average estimate for revenue of $1.3 billion.

The company reported its fourth-quarter results after the market closed. Its net loss for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 2, was $17 million, or 19 cents a share, compared with profit of $15.9 million, or 17 cents a share, a year earlier.

Coldwater Creek stock dropped 89 cents to $4.15 in the extended trading session.

Nation / World

Fidelity Investments

SEC penalizes firm, star manager

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday fined Fidelity Investments $8 million and brought civil charges against former star money manager Peter Lynch and 12 others for receiving improper gifts from outside brokers vying to win Fidelity’s trading business.

The SEC’s order settles a long-running case against the nation’s largest mutual-fund manager, which was found to have accepted more than $1.6 million in perks from 2002 to 2004, including World Series baseball tickets and private jet trips to exotic destinations.

The SEC also said some Fidelity traders accepted illegal drugs from brokers, and one trader’s illegal gambling was facilitated by a broker.

The three-year investigation also found family and romantic relationships involving Fidelity employees and outside brokers influenced the company’s selection of brokers to handle trading business.

Amgen

Up to $520 million for rights to drug

Amgen will pay Japan’s Kyowa Hakko Kogyo as much as $520 million for rights to an experimental treatment for inflammation and cancer.

Kyowa Hakko will get $100 million initially and as much as $420 million tied to the development of the medicine, a humanized monoclonal antibody known as KW-0761, the companies said today.

The deal gives Amgen a potential medication targeting a receptor in the body involved in inflammation that could join its anti-inflammatory medicine Enbrel.

Enbrel was developed by Seattle-based Immunex, which Amgen bought in 2002.

The exclusive license agreement will allow Amgen to develop and commercialize Kyowa KW-0761 worldwide, except in Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan, where Kyowa Hakko will retain the rights.

Securities

Auction bond failures near 70%

Auction-rate bond failures show no sign of abating after investors abandoned the market for variable-rate municipal securities.

Almost 70 percent of the periodic auctions in the $330 billion market failed this week as investment banks stopped buying the securities investors didn’t want. Yields on the debt averaged 6.52 percent as of Feb. 28, up from 3.63 percent before demand evaporated in January.

Rising yields are pinching state and local governments just as a slowing economy and falling property values slash tax revenue by more than $6.6 billion, according to a report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

When auctions fail, bondholders are left holding the securities and interest rates reset at a level spelled out in official statements issued at the initial bond sale. Rates on Port Authority of New York and New Jersey bonds rose to 20 percent on Feb. 13, from 4.3 percent a week earlier after an auction failed.

Ambac Financial

Bond insurer’s plan will avoid split

Ambac Financial’s plan to raise $1.5 billion in capital enables the bond insurer to stay in one piece, New York insurance regulators said Wednesday, after the company had considered splitting its operations.

The New York Insurance Department gave its backing to Ambac’s proposal to offer common stock and equity units to boost its reserves in an effort to maintain its “AAA” credit rating. The insurer essentially needs that rating to book new business.

Ambac said its total offering consists of a public stock offering for at least $1 billion and a $500 million offering of equity units.

Apple

Movies for rent fall short of goal

Apple has fallen substantially short of its target of having 1,000 movies available for rent on its Apple TV set-top box by the end of last month, and is blaming studios for the discrepancy.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs told shareholders at the annual meeting Tuesday that it’s taking movie studios more time than expected to get approval from various rights holders, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr on Wednesday said the company hopes to have 1,000 movies available “soon.”

Aviation

Delta, NWA pilots resume their talks

Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines pilot leaders resumed talks to reach an accord on meshing their unions, the last major step needed for the carriers to merge, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The meetings restarted Wednesday in the Washington, D.C., area, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

The sessions were the first between the airlines’ work groups since negotiators failed to agree two weeks ago on how to combine the seniority rankings of 12,000 pilots.

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