Pacific Northwest Cliff Burrows will be Starbucks' new president of U.S. operations, replacing Launi Skinner, 43, who resigned Monday to...

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Cliff Burrows will be Starbucks’ new president of U.S. operations, replacing Launi Skinner, 43, who resigned Monday to spend more time with her husband and two daughters.

Burrows, 48, began working for Starbucks in 2001 and has been president of Starbucks for Europe, the Middle East and Africa since 2006. He will relocate to Seattle from London.

The coffee chain’s U.S. operations have struggled lately, with traffic and operating margins falling last quarter. Jim Alling was Starbucks’ president of U.S. operations until September, when he became president of international operations.

Burrows was formerly Starbucks’ vice president and managing director in the United Kingdom, which more than doubled its number of stores under his leadership.

Weyerhaeuser

Lumber firm shuts Oregon facility

Weyerhaeuser is permanently closing a Junction City, Ore., veneer-products facility because of weak demand in the slowed housing market.

The company said Monday the facility would close immediately and affect 56 workers.

Weyerhaeuser is based in Federal Way.

Automotive

Sales of trucks, SUVs tumble

Automakers got hit where it hurts in February, with U.S. sales of their most profitable vehicles — trucks, sport-utilities and large sedans — plunging as consumers reacted to high gas prices and the possible recession. General Motors and Ford announced second-quarter production cuts in the face of the falling sales.

GM reported a sales decline of almost 13 percent for the month while Ford’s sales slumped 7 percent.

Honda bucked the trend, posting a 5 percent increase in U.S. sales as booming sales of its small cars and crossovers picked up the slack from its slumping Ridgeline pickup and luxury sedans. The subcompact Honda Fit saw sales jump 62 percent. Honda’s sales were up nearly 2 percent for the first two months of the year.

Berkshire Hathaway

Buffett warns of economic woes

Billionaire Warren Buffett said Monday that the U.S. economy is essentially in a recession even if it hasn’t met the technical definition of one yet.

Buffett said in an interview with cable network CNBC the reports he gets from the retail businesses his holding company owns show a significant slowdown in purchases.

The chairman and CEO of the investment firm Berkshire Hathaway said millions of people have also lost equity in their homes because home prices have dropped.

Hollinger Int’l

Conrad Black reports to prison

Former newspaper baron Conrad Black, a prominent biographer and member of the British House of Lords, reported to prison Monday to begin a 6 ½-year sentence for swindling shareholders in his Hollinger International media empire.

Black turned himself in to the low-security prison in Florida’s Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Mike Truman.

Black and two co-defendants, John Boultbee and Peter Atkinson, were convicted last July in Chicago for siphoning millions of dollars out of the company.

Black had sought to stay free on bond on grounds there was a strong possibility his conviction would be reversed, but a Chicago federal appeals court denied his request last week.

His efforts have been followed closely in Great Britain and Canada. Black is Canadian-born but surrendered his Canadian citizenship to become a member of the British House of Lords — Lord Black of Crossharbour.

United Technology

Diebold offer may prove irresistible

Diebold may find it impossible to resist a $2.63 billion buyout offer by United Technologies, which is aggressively seeking to expand its security business in Asia, observers said Monday.

United Technologies on Sunday offered $40 a share, a 67 percent premium over Diebold’s closing price Friday. Diebold shares climbed $14.72, or 61 percent Monday to $38.84. United Technologies shares fell $1.11 to $69.40.

Diebold turned down the bid Monday, calling it opportunistic, and urged its shareholders to take no action.

Peter Murphy, a spokesman for United Technologies, said the company is disappointed with the response from Diebold officials “and we presume their shareholders are as well.”

Page Davidson, a lawyer for Bass, Berry and Sims in Nashville, which typically represents sellers in acquisition deals, said the price offered by United Technologies will be hard to reject.

“At that kind of premium, it’s going to be pretty difficult to not engage in some kind of process now in response to pressure from the shareholder base,” he said. “The board’s fiduciary duty is to take the action it believes is in the best long-term interest of shareholders.”

Intel

Chip maker trims Q1 forecast

Intel, the world’s biggest chip maker, cut its first-quarter gross-profit-margin forecast to about 54 percent, from about 56 percent, because of lower-than-expected prices for flash memory.

The rest of Intel’s previous outlook, announced in January, remains the same, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said Monday in a statement.

Intel’s joint venture with Micron Technology to produce memory chips used in digital cameras and music players is hurting profits. Prices of those chips have plummeted because of an industry glut.

Gross margin, the percentage of sales remaining after deducting the cost of production, is the only measure of profitability that Intel forecasts. The company had predicted a margin of about 57 percent for the full year.

Intel rose 4 cents to $20.01 Monday. The stock has fallen 25 percent this year.

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