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Saturday, November 01, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

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Google report surprises Microsoft execs


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Google report surprises Microsoft execs

SEATTLE — Citing unnamed sources, The New York Times yesterday reported that Microsoft approached Google about a possible takeover. But several Microsoft executives involved with the company's search business were unaware of any such overtures.

"Sorry, I know nothing about this," said Jim Allchin, the group vice president who heads the Windows division and serves on the company's senior management team.

Google is in the process of meeting with investment banks that may handle its initial public offering next year. The New York Times story said Microsoft approached the Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet-search business within the past two months to discuss options, including a takeover, but it was turned down.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company won't comment "on rumors or speculation."

Amazon.com changes book-search feature

SEATTLE — Amazon.com yesterday quietly disabled a user's ability to print pages from books displayed on its Web site.

The Seattle online retailer last week introduced "Search Inside the Book," a feature that allows users to search the contents of a book beyond author and title and to preview the text inside. The Authors Guild, the country's oldest and largest society of published authors, said in an e-mail to members that it was able to print 108 consecutive pages from a best-selling book by using key search terms.

An Amazon spokesperson could not be reached for comment. But an attempt to print a text page from the Web site failed.

The company's stock yesterday fell $1.40 to $54.43.

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Drugstore.com seeks limit on advertisers

SEATTLE — Bellevue-based drugstore.com has asked Internet search engines and portals to accept advertising dollars only from certified online pharmacies.

Only 14 Internet drugstores carry a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site, or VIPPS, label from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

The company made the request in response to the proliferation of rogue online pharmacies that allow users to purchase prescription drugs by filling out an online consultation, or in some cases, without any prescription.

Paid search has become a popular way for Internet commerce companies to advertise to consumers. Under that method, a company will pay a search engine or portal for its Web site to come up with a certain search term. The paid advertisements are listed to the right of the engine's search results.

Puget Energy selling $100 million in stock

SEATTLE — Bellevue-based Puget Energy said yesterday it has agreed to sell about $100 million in stock to Franklin Advisers, of San Mateo, Calif.

The proceeds will go into the Puget Sound Energy subsidiary to redeem $93.75 million in high-cost preferred stock. The company said the sale will not dilute 2003 and 2004 expected earnings per share.

The sale will include 4.55 million shares of common stock at $22 a share, a discount from the closing price of $22.80 as of Oct. 30.

Boeing helps airline find used 747s to buy

HONG KONG — Cathay Pacific Airways, Asia's sixth-largest carrier, may buy up to 15 secondhand Boeing 747-400 aircraft to cut the cost of expanding its fleet, said Tony Tyler, the airline's director of corporate development.

Boeing is working with Cathay to find the used aircraft, said Mark Hooper, a spokesman for the jet maker.

A secondhand jumbo can cost between $20 million and $45 million, depending on the number of hours it has flown and other factors, said Jim Eckes, managing director of Indoswiss Aviation. A new 747-400 has a list price of between $185 million and $211 million.

Cathay has restored flights canceled during the SARS epidemic earlier this year as economic growth accelerates in many Asian countries. The Asian carrier canceled 1,500 flights at the height of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and Bloomberg News.

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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