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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

2 nominated to run in Boeing union election

Pacific Northwest

Machinists at Boeing will elect a new union leader March 16 to succeed district President Mark Blondin.

Meeting Tuesday evening, the Machinists union's district council nominated two candidates: Clifton Wyatt and Tom Wroblewski.

Wyatt is district vice president, but shop-floor workers say the leadership favors Wroblewski.

After Blondin announced his resignation in January, Wroblewski quit as union grievance coordinator and was immediately appointed to the council to make him eligible to run.

In a prepared statement, Wyatt said, "The current President and his regime are completely out of touch with our membership."

Blondin will become aerospace coordinator for the national union.

Clearwire

IPO will seek up to $575 million

Clearwire, a wireless-Internet company founded by cellphone pioneer Craig McCaw, will seek as much as $575 million in an initial public offering, more than it originally sought two months ago.

The Kirkland company plans to sell shares for $23 to $25 each, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday.

Proceeds from the sale will be used to expand Clearwire's network and buy more wireless spectrum. Clearwire had sought as much as $400 million in December when it made its initial filing.

The company, started by McCaw in 2003 to build a worldwide wireless network, withdrew a proposal in July to sell shares after it raised $900 million from investors including Intel and Motorola.

Microsoft

Sales rose 98% for newest Office

Microsoft's new Office 2007 software produced almost twice the revenue of the previous version in its first month of corporate availability, according to market research firm NPD Group.

Sales rose 98 percent and shipments increased 61 percent, based on a December survey by NPD. Retail sales more than doubled during the week of Office 2007's Jan. 30 consumer release, NPD said.

Microsoft released Office 2007 to business customers Nov. 30 and broadly in January, adding a new design and additional programs to spur upgrades and get corporate customers to spend more.

"This was probably one of the most successful retail launches of Microsoft Office ever," said Chris Swenson, NPD's software industry analysis director, in the e-mailed report.

Starbucks

Schultz repays Sonics loan

Starbucks' chairman has transferred 3.56 million shares of company stock to repay a loan that helped him purchase a stake in the Seattle SuperSonics.

Howard Schultz, who sold the NBA club last year, transferred the shares Monday to an unnamed lender, according to a regulatory filing.

The transaction retires a nearly $55.2 million cash loan Schultz received in March 2001, around the time he led a group of investors in buying the Sonics for $200 million.

Schultz pledged about 6.75 million Starbucks shares to secure the loan but renegotiated terms in 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission filing shows.

The newer contract allowed Schultz to keep about 3.2 million shares because of the stock's rising value.

The 3.56 million shares transferred in the deal were worth about $116.6 million, based on Monday's closing price of $32.67. Schultz still owns about 13.4 million shares of company stock.

KB Home

Builder's shares rise despite losses

KB Home reported a loss in its fourth quarter Tuesday as the homebuilder absorbed a series of charges related to inventory and land options and saw the number of net orders for homes decline sharply.

But the company's financial results exceeded Wall Street's expectations, and its shares rose $1.49 to close at $53.43.

KB Home and other major home sellers have been scrambling to cope with the effects of a housing-market downturn caused by an oversupply of homes and high prices that have left many would-be buyers hard-pressed to buy a home.

Caremark Rx

Judge delays vote on CVS buyout bid

A Delaware judge ordered Caremark Rx to delay a shareholder vote on a proposed acquisition by CVS hours after the drugstore operator heated up the bidding Tuesday by tripling the special cash dividend it proposes to pay.

Caremark shareholders were initially scheduled to meet Feb. 20, but the vote was delayed until March 9 in an order signed by Chancellor William Chandler III.

He is hearing a shareholder suit challenging the Caremark-CVS deal filed by Louisiana Municipal Police Employees' Retirement System.

Lawyers for the pension fund asked the judge to postpone the shareholder vote because it needs more time to consider the latest offer from CVS and other recent disclosures by Caremark.

Mills

$1.6 billion offer tops Brookfield bid

Mall developer Mills said Tuesday it favors a $1.6 billion offer from Simon Property Group and hedge fund Farallon Capital Management, a deal that tops an earlier takeover agreement Mills made with Brookfield Asset Management.

Mills said its board of directors concluded that the Simon-Farallon deal, at $24 a share, is "superior" to Brookfield's proposed $21-a-share deal, valued at $1.35 billion.

The board authorized Mills to end the Brookfield deal.

Brookfield will have three days to top its previous offer.

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

Copyright © The Seattle Times Company

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