Saturday, February 10, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Coalition to push for open airwaves


Microsoft is building a demonstration device to help it and five other technology companies, including Google, lobby the government to open up television airwaves for wireless Internet access.

The coalition will submit the prototype device, which could access so-called "white space," or vacant TV airwaves, to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Office of Engineering and Technology, according to a letter the companies filed with the FCC. The device would "provide consumer broadband access and networking," according to the filing.

"We are stepping up to create the prototype that is purely a proof of concept," said Microsoft spokesman Eric Hollreiser. "It is not a precursor to any specific Microsoft product."

The prototype is meant to demonstrate that accessing this unused TV spectrum would not interfere with existing technology, he said.

Other coalition members are Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Philips and Intel.

Micron Technology


Prices collapse; company reeling


Micron Technology said Friday that a collapse in the price of its products has created a "horrible situation" for the maker of computer memory chips.

The news pushed the stock of the Boise, Idaho-based company down 34 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $12.56, a 15-month low.

Micron increased production of Nand memory chips during an industry glut, said Mike Sadler, the company's head of sales, at an analyst conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. Nand chips store information in digital cameras and MP3 players. The timing "couldn't have been worse," he said.

He forecast prices will fall 30 to 40 percent this quarter from the preceding three months.

"The supply side of the equation is imbalanced due to a lot of supply coming on from Asia," said John Lau, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. "There is a lot of competition out there."



Icahn-affiliated bid is accepted


Auto-parts supplier Lear said Friday that it has agreed to a buyout offer by a group affiliated with billionaire investor-activist Carl Icahn for about $2.8 billion, but left the door open for a better offer.

But Richard Pzena, of Pzena Investment Management, which owns about 10 percent of Lear's shares, said the offer was too low and his group was trying to get other shareholders to oppose the deal. Long-term, Pzena said Lear would be worth about $60 a share.

Under the agreement, Icahn-controlled American Real Estate Partners is paying $36 a share, and a Lear spokesman said that amounts to about $2.8 billion. It also includes the assumption of about $2.5 billion in debt.

Lear's shares fell 68 cents, or 1.7 percent, on Friday to $39.39 at the end of regular trading. They fell a further $2.89, or 7 percent, to $36.50 in after-hours trading.


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


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