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Saturday, December 10, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Loudeye closes Overpeer unit

Loudeye, a Seattle-based digital-music company, said Friday it has shut down its Overpeer subsidiary and will lay off the unit's employees. Overpeer, based in New York City, focused on data mining and anti-piracy technologies and was known for flooding peer-to-peer music networks with fake files in an attempt to thwart illegal downloading.

Loudeye bought Overpeer in March 2004 for about $4 million in stock and said last month that the unit was losing money. Loudeye didn't say how many people were laid off but said Overpeer will incur $200,000 in severance and related payroll costs in the closing. The news pushed Loudeye's share price down 2 cents, or 4 percent, to 46 cents Friday.

Alltel

Firm to become wireless-only

Alltel, the largest U.S. rural telephone company, will spin off its local-phone business in a $4.9 billion transaction that will transform the company into a pure wireless provider.

Alltel will combine the unit with Valor Communications Group, creating a business with 3.4 million customers in 16 states, the companies said Friday. Little Rock, Ark.-based Alltel will transfer $4.2 billion of debt to the new entity.

Slimming down to a wireless company may make Alltel a more attractive takeover target for carriers seeking more customers and spectrum, analysts said. Alltel bought Bellevue-based Western Wireless this summer for $4.4 billion in cash and stock.

General Motors

No deal reached with Kerkorian

General Motors and billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian said in a joint statement Friday that they have failed to reach an agreement on Kerkorian's request to gain a seat on the automaker's board for his aide Jerome York.

"Although the parties have had constructive discussions, they have not been able to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement ... at this time," GM and Kerkorian's private equity firm, Tracinda, said in a joint statement.

GM and Tracinda said they expect to continue discussing the matter.

York is a former Chrysler and IBM chief financial officer. Kerkorian and York worked closely together on a failed takeover bid of Chrysler in 1995.

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

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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