Pacific Northwest SAP and Microsoft said yesterday that they had developed a new product to link their business-software programs in a further...

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SAP and Microsoft said yesterday that they had developed a new product to link their business-software programs in a further cooperative step between the world’s leading software producers.

The project will link SAP software to Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office suite, letting users funnel data from SAP software through Microsoft. That should make it easier to integrate SAP processes, such as time management, budget monitoring, travel and expense management, directly into Microsoft Office.

The program is set to be released to customers during the fourth quarter of 2005, the companies said.

Nanostring Technologies

“Bar-code” research gets additional cash

Nanostring Technologies, a computational biology company in Seattle, said it has raised an additional $3.8 million from its original cast of venture investors.

The company, which spun out of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, said it raised the cash from OVP Venture Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Those firms invested $4.3 million to found Nanostring in August.

Nanostring plans to use the cash to continue developing an instrument to read what it calls molecular “bar codes.” It intends to use the instrument in genetic research, medical diagnostics and agriculture. In August, it said it expected to take 18 to 24 months of testing to see how well the device works.

Nation / World

Arthur Andersen

$65 million to settle WorldCom claims

A federal judge gave preliminary approval yesterday to a deal under which auditor Arthur Andersen will pay $65 million to settle allegations it failed to protect investors from WorldCom’s historic accounting fraud.

The settlement brings to a close a class-action lawsuit by investors that also laid blame on major investment banks that underwrote WorldCom securities and 12 former directors of WorldCom itself.

The banks settled before trial for more than $6 billion, and the directors agreed to pay nearly $25 million out of their own pockets.

Andersen was the only defendant left when the case went to trial last month. In a statement Monday, when the settlement was announced, Andersen denied wrongdoing.


Board OKs raise in cash dividend

IBM said yesterday its board raised the company’s quarterly cash dividend by 11 percent to 20 cents per share, and authorized $5 billion in additional funds for use in its stock repurchase program.

The company quarterly cash dividend, which represents an increase of 2 cents per share from the previous quarter, is payable June 10 to stockholders of record at May 10.

IBM said it will repurchase shares on the open market or in private transactions from time to time, depending on market conditions. The company now has about 1.63 billion shares outstanding.

IBM shares rose 82 cents to close at $75.43 yesterday.

IBM spent $7.1 billion on share repurchases and $1.2 billion on dividends in 2004. In 2003, it bought back $4.3 billion in shares and paid $1.1 billion in dividends.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and The Associated Press