Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Boeing marketing VP says he'll retire

Randy Baseler, Boeing Commercial Airplanes' vice president of marketing for nearly a decade, plans to retire at the end of April.

Baseler announced his departure on Randy's Journal, the blog he began writing on Boeing's Web site in 2005.

Baseler, 58, wrote that he wants to spend more time with his wife and family, adding, "My plan is to settle into my cowboy boots, blue jeans, and flannel shirts, and stay closer to the ground."

He'll be leaving after a year in which Boeing retook from Airbus the lead in jet orders.

"We're in the midst of an extended up-cycle," Baseler wrote. "And I truly believe Boeing has the strongest products and services offerings that I can remember in my 33 years here."


Shareholder seeks cost reductions

InfoSpace, which sells content including music for mobile phones, was urged by shareholder Sandell Asset Management to trim expenses and return $300 million to investors or consider selling assets.

Sandell, which claims to be InfoSpace's largest single shareholder with 8.8 percent of shares outstanding, wrote a letter to the board calling for a special $100 million dividend, according to a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

InfoSpace also should cut $15 million in expenses by the end of the year and buy back $200 million of stock. If costs can't be reduced, the company should consider a sale, Sandell said in the filing.

InfoSpace's stock is worth at least $35 a share, or $41 if the company were to be broken up in a sale, Sandell said.

Calls to Sandell Chief Executive Officer Tom Sandell and InfoSpace spokeswoman Stacy Ybarra weren't returned.

InfoSpace stock closed at $25.47 Monday.

Getty Images

Firm scoops up U.K. snapshot site

Getty Images, the world's largest supplier of stock images to advertisers, bought Scoopt to add a source of amateur news pictures and video.

Scoopt's management will continue to operate the Web site from Glasgow, Scotland, Seattle-based Getty said Monday. Terms weren't disclosed.

Hugh Pinney, director of editorial photography for Getty Images, will oversee Scoopt, the company said. Pinney said in the statement that he'll impose "rigorous quality standards" when evaluating submissions to Scoopt, to ensure journalistic integrity. Getty plans to upgrade Scoopt's technology as well.

Scoopt, started in 2005, provides publishers with pictures and video submitted to the site, often by people who happen to have a camera handy when a newsworthy event occurs nearby.


Deal may be near to buy Tellme

Microsoft is in talks to buy voice-technology company Tellme Networks and may sign a deal this week, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday night on its Web site, citing people familiar with the plans.

The deal could value the Mountain View, Calif., company at up to $800 million, said one source. The talks were first reported Monday by CNET

Tellme's voice-recognition and Internet technology would fit in with Microsoft's goal to build Web-based voice capabilities in its own products, The Journal said.

One of Tellme's earliest investors was Brad Silverberg, a former Microsoft executive who led the development of Windows 95 and Internet Explorer.


Lockheed orders from Bothell firm

Lumera, a Bothell nanotechnology company, received an order for high electro-optic activity materials from Lockheed Martin.

The news pushed its stock up 89 cents, or 24.4 percent, to $4.54 Monday.

The terms of the order were not released. Lumera's contract with Lockheed lasts until Dec. 31, the company said.

Lumera is selling a polymer material that can be used in modulators that transmit data from electrical to optical signals, said Helene Jaillet, Lumera's director of investor relations and corporate communications.


Online publication delays its debut

Crosscut, the online Northwest "newspaper" that is the latest brainchild of Seattle Weekly founding editor David Brewster, will debut April 2, Brewster says.

The site had been tentatively scheduled to launch March 12. Brewster, Crosscut's publisher, attributed the three-week delay to "technical bugs" and a desire to get more content ready for posting.

The site, at, will cover Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and parts of British Columbia, and provide a mix of original journalism, blogs, material derived from the mainstream media and other sources, and forums and other interactive features.


New ownership for Aston Martin

Cash-strapped Ford has sold a controlling stake in the Aston Martin brand, made famous by its exotic sports cars appearing in James Bond movies, raising $848 million to help fund its turnaround plan.

Aston Martin will be run by a consortium of investors, including racing mogul David Richards, car collector John Sinders and Kuwaiti firms of Investment Dar and Adeem Investment.

Ford will retain a $77 million stake. That values all of Aston Martin at $925 million. , which lost $12.7 billion last year and expects losses to continue until 2009, put Aston Martin up for sale last August.

Dollar General

Discounter agrees to private buyout

Dollar General said Monday its board has agreed to a buyout offer of about $6.9 billion from the private-equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in a deal that will take the discount retailer private.

Dollar General investors must still approve the deal. The company said it could close in the third quarter.

The discount retailer operates about 8,260 stores.

Under terms of the deal, Kohlberg Kravis will pay $22 per share for each Dollar General share. The price represents a 31.1 percent premium to the stock's price Friday.


Acquisition could raise sales, diversity

Schering-Plough said Monday it will buy the drug unit of Netherlands-based Akzo Nobel for $14.4 billion, giving the U.S. pharmaceutical company an array of women's-health products while bolstering its animal-health business and late-stage pipeline of experimental medicines.

The approximately $4.9 billion in revenue from Organon Biosciences would bulk up Schering-Plough's sales by about half, and analysts applauded the New Jerseydrug maker's effort to diversify and lessen its dependence on its cholesterol franchise. But they also expressed concern about the deal's debt and one key late-stage product, a treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder called asenapine.

The acquisition will be financed through cash, debt and equity, Schering-Plough said. New debt is expected to total $6 billion to $8 billion.

Express Scripts

Firm says it won't sweeten its offer

Express Scripts, which has been battling CVS to acquire pharmacy-benefits manager Caremark Rx, said Monday it won't make a higher offer because it isn't allowed to see enough of Caremark's financial data to perform due diligence.

"Our current offer is the best and only offer we can make at this time," George Paz, Express Scripts president, chief executive officer and chairman, said. Since CVS and Caremark announced a stock-acquisition agreement in November and Express Scripts offered a rival bid for cash and stock in December, the drugstore operator has improved its offer three times. Express Scripts improved its offer once.

Both CVS and Caremark declined to comment.

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

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


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