Pacific Northwest Stockholders of Washington Banking on Thursday approved the sale of the Oak Harbor-based company to Frontier Financial...

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Pacific Northwest

Washington Banking

Stockholders of Washington Banking on Thursday approved the sale of the Oak Harbor-based company to Frontier Financial of Everett.

Shareholders owning 73.3 percent of Washington Banking’s total outstanding stock voted to approve the deal, which would combine the 20-branch Whidbey Island Bank with Frontier’s 51 offices in Washington and Oregon.

When the cash-and-stock deal was announced in September, it was valued at $191.1 million, or $21.40 per Washington Banking share. However, the subsequent decline of Frontier’s stock has cut the deal’s value to an estimated $145.9 million, or $16.95 a Washington Banking share.

Despite the shareholder vote, Washington Banking retains the right to scupper the deal anytime before closing if its value is below $19.41 a share. On Wednesday, Frontier said it would not add more cash or stock to its offer in order to reach that threshold.

The transaction still must be approved by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.


Britain will buy Airbus air tankers

Airbus parent EADS landed its second big government order in as many months Thursday when Britain signed a $26.36 billion contract to replace the Royal Air Force’s aging fleet of midair-refueling tankers.

Airbus will provide the Royal Air Force with 14 new A330-200 passenger aircraft converted for military use under a 27-year contract between the EADS-led consortium AirTanker and the Defense Ministry.

European Aeronautic Defence & Space, teamed with Northrop Grumman, was chosen over Boeing last month to supply the U.S. Air Force with 179 refueling aircraft for $35 billion.

Boeing said it dropped out of the bidding for the British contract early in the process.


Auditors say cash might run short

CombiMatrix said Wednesday that its external auditors had expressed doubts about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.

The qualification is common among biotech companies that have less cash in hand than their estimated annual burn rate. The company had $8 million in cash and short-term investments at the end of the year.

CombiMatrix, a Mukilteo-based biotech firm, has traded publicly only since last August, when it was spun off from Acacia Research.


Early trials sought for arthritis drug

Trubion said Thursday that its partner Wyeth applied to begin early-stage clinical trials on their SBI-087 compound for rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical trial sites are preparing to enroll patients, the Seattle biotechnology firm said.

Trubion also said Wyeth has discontinued development of the TRU-015 compound for the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.


Tips-dispute news irks chief executive

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told employees he is upset about media coverage of the company’s tip-pooling policy that was shot down recently by a California court and is being challenged with lawsuits in Massachusetts and Minnesota.

“I want to personally let you know that we would never condone any type of behavior that would lead anyone to conclude that we would take money from our people,” Schultz said Wednesday in the voice mail to employees, which Starbucks shared with The Seattle Times. “When I read these headlines about Starbucks skimming or stealing from our partners, it’s just beyond my comprehension how irresponsible it is.”

A California court recently ordered Starbucks to pay an estimated $100 million in tips and interest to baristas who are required by company policy to share their tips with shift supervisors.

Starbucks said it will appeal the decision.

Similar lawsuits were filed this week by ex-employees in Massachusetts and Minnesota.

Nation and World


Missed forecast puts stock in spin

Oracle’s stock price fell more than 7 percent Thursday on disappointing third-quarter sales, but some analysts remained optimistic about the business-software maker’s ability to shrug off a weakening U.S. economy and protect its healthy profit margins.

Shares of Oracle fell $1.51 from Wednesday’s close to end trading Thursday at $19.43 after the release of Oracle’s disappointing third-quarter earnings report late Wednesday.

The report showed Oracle’s profit for the period jumped 30 percent to $1.34 billion, matching analyst estimates, and sales jumped 21 percent to $5.35 billion.

But that revenue figure fell short of Wall Street’s forecast. Oracle blamed the miss on customers delaying big buying decisions because of worries about the economy.

Bear Stearns

Chairman sells stake for $10.84 a share

Bear Stearns Chairman James Cayne on Thursday sold his holdings in the embattled investment bank ahead of its expected acquisition by JPMorgan Chase.

Cayne sold 5.66 million shares for exactly $10.84 a share, or $61.3 million.

It was not known if those shares were dumped into the open market or if Cayne sold them to another party.


JetBlue founder sets sights on Brazil

The founder of JetBlue Airways announced plans Thursday for a new Brazilian airline that would begin operating next year with three jets and eventually grow to a fleet of 76 planes flying nationwide.

JetBlue Chairman David Neeleman said the opportunity is clear: Latin America’s largest nation has a growing passenger travel market dominated by two airlines that face little domestic competition and charge high fares.

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