Washington Mutual may seek to move more jobs overseas to help boost productivity, CEO Kerry Killinger said Tuesday in New York.

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Washington Mutual

Washington Mutual may seek to move more jobs overseas to help boost productivity, CEO Kerry Killinger said Tuesday in New York.

Some of WaMu’s data-processing and card-services-support operations are abroad.

“We’ll look to low-cost areas of the U.S. and at other countries,” Killinger said. “Our approach will be to be very thoughtful and methodical about where we site things and how we do it.”

Officials declined to elaborate and did not discuss specific markets.


Two named to oversee China expansion

Starbucks appointed executives Jinlong Wang and Eden Woon to lead the company’s expansion in China.

Wang will serve in the newly created position of president of Starbucks Greater China. Wang previously was president of the Shanghai-based Shanghai Buddies CVS convenience-store chain, Starbucks said.

Woon, who will serve as vice president for Greater China, is chief executive of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce.

Starbucks expects China will become the company’s second-largest market after the U.S.


New server sends to mobile phones

RealNetworks is planning to announce today the launch of a new version of its streaming media server that will let companies send content not only to computers but also to mobile phones.

The announcement was planned as part of the Streaming Media West conference in California. The server, called Helix Server Unlimited, will be used by several of the Seattle company’s customers, including the city of Seattle and Virginia Tech.

The city of Seattle will soon provide access to City Council meetings and other programming on Sprint or Cingular Wireless multimedia phones. The content typically will be accessed via the phone’s browser.


Soros raises stake in Microsoft stock

George Soros’ hedge fund nearly doubled its stake in Microsoft in the third quarter. Soros Fund Management, which has about $8 billion under management, raised its stake in Microsoft to 1.85 million shares, according to a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Investors often watch billionaire Soros for cues on where to put their money.

Soros also bought Amazon.com stock; he owned 292,500 shares of Amazon at the end of September.

Cascade Investment

Pacific Ethanol, Gates’ firm in deal

Cascade Investment, a firm owned by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, agreed to buy an $84 million stake in Fresno, Calif.-based Pacific Ethanol to help fund construction of fuel-additive plants on the U.S. West Coast.

Cascade plans to buy preferred stock that would be convertible to 10.5 million common shares, Pacific Ethanol said Tuesday.

Dwango Wireless

$5 million loss in 3rd quarter noted

Seattle-based Dwango Wireless, which develops and publishes content for mobile phones, said it lost $5 million on revenue of $968,000 during the third quarter. In the year ago period, Dwango lost $2.8 million on revenue of $545,000, the company said Monday.

Revenue grew because of Napster-branded product sales and the launch of an additional Canadian carrier, Dwango said. During the quarter, the company also launched Playboy-branded services in the U.S. and Canada.

The company said it also reduced headcount to control expenses. At the end of the quarter, Dwango had $6.6 million in cash and short-term investments.


Results positive in early drug trial

An early-stage clinical trial of ZymoGenetics’ experimental treatment for skin and kidney cancers found it had few side effects and reduced the size of some patients’ tumors.

The trial tested Interleukin 21 in 15 patients to find a maximum dose. Two patients’ tumors shrank, and eight patients’ cancer was unchanged, the Seattle company reported at a medical meeting Friday.

Side effects included flulike symptoms, which investigators expect with a treatment that stimulates the immune system to attack disease.

A second trial of 24 patients is planned to gain more safety and disease-response data.

Targeted Genetics

Volunteers to test new HIV vaccine

A Seattle company’s experimental vaccine for the virus that causes AIDS will be tested in 78 healthy volunteers in South Africa, the first midstage clinical trial of its kind in the country.

Targeted Genetics and its partner, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, launched the 18-month trial Monday. It will measure whether the vaccine candidate, tgAAC09, produces an immune system response in patients.

Nation and World

Charles Schwab & Co.

$1 million fine imposed for theft

The New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday slapped Charles Schwab & Co. with a $1 million fine for allowing its independent investment advisers to pilfer clients’ accounts.

Several advisers transferred funds from customer accounts to themselves by forging checks and signatures between 1998 and early 2003, the NYSE said. The advisers were not Schwab employees but managed client accounts with the firm. The sum stolen was not disclosed.

The exchange did not specify exactly how many of Schwab’s approximately 5,000 affiliated advisers were involved or where they were located. A spokesman declined to comment.

The firm said in a statement the number of advisers involved was “less than a small fraction of 1 percent.” Schwab said it reported the misconduct to the federal Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2001.

“We have implemented a state-of-the-art surveillance system and enacted some of the best controls in the industry for monitoring disbursements by independent investment advisers,” the company said.

Compiled from Bloomberg News, Seattle Times staff and the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service