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Thursday, December 13, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

North Forty Lodging buys Alderbrook Inn

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SEATTLE — Alderbrook Inn, a landmark resort on Hood Canal since 1913 that has been owned by Crista Ministries the past three years, has been bought by North Forty Lodging and will be managed by MTM Management, the company that operates the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle and Resort Semiahmoo in Blaine.

The purchase price was not disclosed for the resort, which features a 78-room inn, individual cottages, golf course, marina, indoor pool, restaurant and lounge, and 10,000 square feet of conference and meeting space.

Crista Ministries, a Christian nonprofit organization, had kept the resort and restaurant open to the public, but didn't serve alcoholic beverages.

The new owners have a liquor license and plan to renovate the site to "create a destination resort that rivals any in the Northwest," said Brian McGinnis of North Forty Lodging, a Seattle-based company.

Work is expected to begin next fall, he said.

Seattle Coffee lays off 15 as part of restructuring

SEATTLE — Seattle Coffee, parent company of Seattle's Best Coffee and Torrefazione Italia, laid off 15 people last week as part of a restructuring plan for its corporate office.

Company spokeswoman Lauren Formicola said the jobs affected were management and sales positions.

"It's just to strengthen the business in this climate," Formicola said.

New $26.6 million will fund WatchMark global expansion

SEATTLE — WatchMark announced yesterday that it raised $26.6 million in venture capital, primarily from Ericsson Venture Partners and a division of Investor AB of Sweden.

WatchMark, which develops software for wireless companies to use for monitoring systems, said it will spend the money on marketing expenses and global expansion into China and South America.

Even though the company has seen revenues increase by 100 percent for two consecutive years, it is not yet profitable. WatchMark employs 258 people in eight offices worldwide.

Other investors that participated in the round are Pequot Capital, Origin Partners and Lucent New Ventures Group. Mark Maybell of Ericsson Venture Partners will join the board.

Verisign finishes acquisition of Olympia's Illuminet

SEATTLE — Verisign, a digital-trust-services company in Mountain View, Calif., has completed its acquisition of Illuminet, a telecommunications-services provider based in Olympia. Verisign announced the $1.2 billion purchase in September.

Airborne Express kiosks, boxes coming to OfficeMax

SEATTLE — Airborne Express, the third-largest package-delivery company, said it will place drop boxes and service centers in OfficeMax stores in the United States.

Under the terms of a three-year agreement with Cleveland- based OfficeMax, Airborne Express drop boxes and kiosks will be installed at 32 stores in the Seattle and Cleveland markets, and eventually in about 960 stores nationwide, the companies said in a statement.

The agreement calls for each company to market the other's products and services on its Web site. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

RealNetworks on track to meet targets, CEO says

NEW YORK — RealNetworks Chairman and Chief Executive Rob Glaser said yesterday that the company was on track to meet financial targets it outlined in October and told the battered Internet sector to "stand tall."

Glaser, in an interview at Internet World, would not comment further on the company's financial targets, adding that he was not a fan of making mid-quarter updates, but the company was "tracking its business forward."

The company, best known for its RealPlayer software for playing audio and video on computers, said in October it did not expect results to worsen. It had also said it expected break-even to slightly positive pro forma operating earnings before interest and taxes in the fourth quarter.

Despite skepticism surrounding the Internet, Glaser said at a keynote speech at Internet World that the industry had to continue with the drive, commitment and creativity that got the ball rolling.

RealNetworks last week launched Web media player RealOne, a major plank in MusicNet, its online subscription venture with several recording companies.

Nation/World

Attacks send foreign-trade deficit to 2-year low

WASHINGTON — The deficit in the broadest measure of foreign trade dropped to $94.98 billion in the July-September quarter, the lowest level in nearly two years, reflecting a surge in foreign insurance payments after the terrorist attacks and a big fall in imports because of the U.S. recession.

The Commerce Department reported yesterday that the deficit in the U.S. current account declined by 11.7 percent in the third quarter, compared with an imbalance of $107.58 billion in the April-June period.

Analysts cautioned that much of the improvement reflected the impact of the Sept. 11 attacks, which resulted in an $11 billion narrowing in the deficit because of higher claims on foreign insurance companies.

Chip-equipment maker to slash work force again

SAN JOSE — Chip-equipment maker Applied Materials will cut 1,700 jobs, or 10 percent of its work force, in response to the continuing semiconductor industry slump.

The global cuts, announced yesterday, are the latest move by Applied to save money as demand for its equipment has weakened. In September, the company cut 2,000 jobs from its payroll.

"Unfortunately, the continuing downturn requires us to make some tough decisions to align our operations with current levels of demand for semiconductor equipment," said James Morgan, Applied's chief executive.

Employees will be notified starting today. About 450 positions in the Silicon Valley and 600 jobs in the Austin, Texas, area will be affected. Total head count will be about 15,000, down from 19,000 in July.

Yahoo! challenges bid for career site HotJobs

SAN JOSE — Yahoo! made a $436 million unsolicited bid for the career Web site HotJobs, challenging an earlier offer from the parent company of Monster.com.

Yahoo said it would pay $10.50 for each share of HotJobs stock, a significant premium over the shares' closing price of $6.47 yesterday. HotJobs stock rose to $7.21 in after-hours trading.

When TMP Worldwide, Monster.com's parent company, made its stock-swap bid in June, it valued HotJobs at $12.20 a share. At yesterday's closing prices, that deal valued HotJobs at $9.89 a share.

Official says 'change afoot' in GM product development

DETROIT — There is "turmoil and change afoot" in General Motors' product-development process, Robert Lutz, chairman of GM North America, said yesterday.

"There are some products we have deferred, one or two we canceled, some have been pulled ahead and some have been added," Lutz told reporters during a round-table discussion at company headquarters.

He would not specify which products were affected because of competitive concerns.

Lutz, 69, joined GM in September to reinvigorate the company's product-design and development system. On Oct. 13, Lutz was promoted to chairman of GM North America.

Seattle Times business reporters, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press

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