Tuesday, February 3, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Microsoft rehires DelBene as marketing vice president

SEATTLE — Microsoft rehired former executive Suzan DelBene as vice president of marketing for its wireless phone and handheld-organizer software division.

DelBene spent nine years at Microsoft including work as a marketing and business development executive in the Windows and Internet Explorer groups before she was hired as a vice president at Bellevue-based in 1998, said Pamela Santos, a spokeswoman for Microsoft.

DelBene replaces Juha Christensen, who quit in November and took a job at Macromedia.

DelBene most recently served as CEO of Seattle-based software company Nimble Technology, a Seattle startup that was acquired last year by a San Francisco company called Actuate. Nimble integrated separate databases into XML.

Microsoft issues browser fix to prevent faked Web sites

NEW YORK — Microsoft issued a patch for what it called a critical flaw in its Web browser software.

Microsoft posted on its Web site a fix for its Internet Explorer Web browser that prevents malicious software coders from making any Web site address look like that of another, a tactic scammers have used to trick individuals into disclosing personal banking information. Microsoft first became aware of the flaws in December, through postings on a security Web site, said Microsoft security program manager Mike Reavey.

Microsoft said it was responding to increased demand from customers for a way to prevent faked Web sites, known as "URL spoofing."

Software coders have in recent weeks sent out e-mail messages directing consumers to fake Web sites whose addresses appear to be those of Citigroup and banks. The scam, known as "phishing," gulls users into entering their bank-account data into a form, which the scammers then mine for information.

Targeted Genetics offers shares to raise $25 million

SEATTLE — Targeted Genetics, a Seattle biotech company, said yesterday that it is offering institutional investors 10.9 million shares of common stock at $2.35 a share to raise more than $25.5 million.

The company said it plans to use the cash for general corporate purposes. In the company's last financial report, it said it had $26 million in cash reserves at the end of September.

Louisiana-Pacific reinstates dividend after 2 years

PRINCETON, N.J. — Louisiana-Pacific, the biggest North American maker of wood paneling for floors and roofs, reinstated its 5-cents-a-share dividend after raising more than $750 million from asset sales.

A dividend will be paid March 1 to shareholders as of Feb. 12, Louisiana-Pacific said. The Portland company had suspended the quarterly payment in November 2001 to save money after posting five losses in a row.

Louisiana-Pacific in October reported its biggest quarterly profit in more than five years amid record prices for oriented-strand board, a cheaper plywood substitute. The company has been selling forestland to trim debt and invest in its oriented-strand board business.


United flight attendants protests retirement changes

CHICAGO — United Airlines flight attendants launched a picketing and leafleting campaign at Seattle and eight other major U.S. airports yesterday, accusing the carrier of using "bait-and-switch" tactics to reduce retirement benefits while restructuring in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The flight attendants also asked in a motion prepared for federal bankruptcy court that an outside examiner be appointed to investigate United's plan to "defraud" thousands of flight attendants out of their retirement benefits — a claim the airline vigorously denies.

The actions, organized by the Association of Flight Attendants, coincided with United's publicity campaign for its new discount carrier Ted, which debuts Feb. 12 and will be based in Denver.

The union maintains United is reneging on an agreement to give more benefits to flight attendants who retired before July 1, intentionally misleading the 2,500 personnel who did so. It organized picketing at the eight airports, saying retirees will have to pay up to $650 a month — a more than tenfold increase — for less health care.

United spokeswoman Jean Medina called the union statements untrue and misleading.

Sprint plans to outsource 6,000 wireless jobs to IBM

NEW YORK — Sprint plans to outsource some wireless customer-care operations to International Business Machines and forge a sales and marketing pact with the company, industry sources said yesterday.

Outsourcing part of its wireless-support operations will cut costs as it tries to offset shrinking long-distance revenues.

The agreement will move 5,000 to 6,000 jobs, or about 8 percent of Sprint's 68,000 work force, to IBM, saving it between $2 billion and $3 billion over the course of the deal, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The marketing pact will allow Sprint to sell its communications services to the large corporations IBM serves. Sprint wants to bolster its role in the large corporate market to better compete against AT&T and MCI.

Spanish bank seeks to buy remainder of its Mexico unit

MEXICO CITY — Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, Spain's second-largest bank, said yesterday it has launched an all-cash offer of 3.3 billion euros ($4.1 billion) to buy the 41 percent it doesn't own of its Mexico unit.

The purchase of the rest of BBVA Bancomer, Mexico's biggest bank, would cement BBVA's position as the No. 1 banking entity in the country, ahead of Citigroup, which owns Banco Nacional de Mexico.

The announcement was the latest in a string of foreign investments in Mexico's banking sector, which has shown signs of a strong recovery from the loan crisis of the mid-1990s.

Trade-organization leader to retire at end of year

SEATTLE — Carl Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), said yesterday he plans to retire at the end of the year.

Feldbaum has led the trade organization since its inception 11 years ago, and has worked in Washington, D.C., for 30 years. Richard Pops, chairman of the board of BIO, said a search committee has been formed and it will look for a successor over the next several months.

Intel ships new chip, cuts prices on other models

ATLANTA — Intel began shipping a new line of Pentium 4 processors and cut prices of some of its top-selling chips to make way for the new models.

Code-named Prescott, the chips announced yesterday will cost $417 per chip in 1,000-semiconductor batches, the same amount as the fastest existing Pentium 4 processors.

Intel slashed prices on other Pentium 4 chips by as much as 33 percent, according to the company's Web site.

Sony to invest $325 million in IBM semiconductor plant

ALBANY, N.Y. — Sony will invest $325 million in IBM's upstate New York semiconductor plant and work with Big Blue to produce tiny new chips for next-generation computer systems and consumer electronics.

IBM will begin pilot production of the microprocessors, code-named "Cell," and other chips for Sony at its East Fishkill plant in the first half of 2005.

The Sony deal follows a November announcement by Microsoft that IBM will make chips for the next version of the Xbox video game consoles.

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

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company


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