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Tuesday, March 02, 2004 - Page updated at 12:19 A.M.
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Business Digest
InfoSpace gets $82 million in sale of Authorize.Net unit


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InfoSpace said yesterday that it sold its Authorize.Net division to Lightbridge for $82 million in cash, completing the Bellevue company's plan to focus on fewer businesses.

"We see strong potential in both the online search and directory and mobile data industries, and will focus our resources toward capitalizing on those opportunities," said Jim Voelker, InfoSpace's chairman and chief executive.

Lightbridge, a Burlington, Mass., transaction-processing company, said it agreed to buy the online-payment processor from InfoSpace to diversify its client base amid consolidation in telecommunications.

Lightbridge said it will maintain all of Authorize.Net's 117 employees and management. The employees, equally spread between two offices in Bellevue and Utah, will not have to relocate. Lightbridge will continue to market the service under its current name. Authorize.Net had 2003 revenue of $27.8 million.

Nintendo says GameCube nearly sold out in U.S.

LOS ANGELES — Nintendo, which at one point stopped production on its GameCube video-game console due to slack demand, has nearly sold out of the console in the United States and is seeking to bring in supplies from elsewhere

"Store shelves are just running very dry," Nintendo of America spokeswoman Perrin Kaplan said yesterday. "I'd say about 50 percent of our stores are out."

The GameCube, released in the United States in 2001, faced heavy competition from market leader Sony and new entrant Microsoft. Some publishers curtailed or stopped production on GameCube games. Faced with excess inventory and slow sales, Nintendo temporarily stopped making the console.

But a price cut on the GameCube to $99 from $149 in September revived sales. Kaplan said January hardware sales were up 60 percent year-over-year, while software sales rose 101 percent.

Rescue of Hawaiian Airlines won't change management
 
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HONOLULU — Hawaiian Holdings Inc., the parent company of Hawaiian Airlines, plans to invest at least $30 million and keep the same management as part of its plans for the carrier to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings later this year.

Hawaiian Holdings said the plan would allow 40 percent of the Honolulu-based company to remain with existing shareholders.

Hawaiian Holdings' plan follows a rival plan offered by creditor Boeing Capital, which seeks to reinstate former Hawaiian Airlines Chief Executive Bruce Nobles to run the airline.

"What Hawaiian needs now is continuity, not change," said John Adams, chairman of Hawaiian Holdings.

$24 million in venture funds boosts World Wide Packets

BELLEVUE — Spokane-based World Wide Packets said yesterday that it closed the second half of its third round of funding, now ringing in at $24.5 million. In January, it announced it had raised $15.7 million in cash. In total, the company has raised about $123 million.

World Wide Packets develops hardware and software that gives utility and telecommunications companies the ability to deliver voice, data and video over fiber-optic lines to residential and business customers. The money will be used to pay for the company's anticipated growth.

Investors Argo Global Capital and Entrepia Ventures participated in the latest funding, joining Madrona Venture Group, Northwest Venture Associates and Azure Capital Partners.

Lab at Richland honored for spinning out technology

SEATTLE — Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland has been given three national awards for technology transfer, the job of spinning out federally funded technologies into the business world. The awards were for transferring technology to improve drug discovery, treat cancer with fewer side effects and improve high-speed biological research tools. The awards were given by the Federal Laboratory Consortium, a group of more than 700 federal labs and centers.

Nation/World

Lockheed CEO to retire; president will take helm

NEW YORK — Lockheed Martin Chairman and Chief Executive Vance Coffman will retire after seven years at the helm, and Robert Stevens, the current company president, will assume his CEO duties, the defense contractor said yesterday.

Coffman, who will turn 60 next month, "informed the board last week, and then the board selected Bob Stevens as his successor," said Lockheed spokesman Tom Jurkowsky.

The departure, which comes five years before Lockheed's mandatory retirement age for executives, did not worry Wall Street analysts, who said Stevens was a good choice.

"Stevens is very well versed for the position," said Paul Nisbet, an analyst with research firm JSA Research. "There will be very little, if any, change (in management style) for the next couple of years at least."

Lockheed's F/A-22 fighter lagging flight-test goals

WASHINGTON — The F/A-22 fighter jet being built by Lockheed Martin, with Boeing as a subcontractor, is lagging the flight-test goals necessary to proceed into combat testing because of software malfunctions and reliability problems, an Air Force official said.

The aircraft, in its preliminary test phase, hasn't generated enough flights to train the number of pilots needed for the more rigorous phase scheduled to begin in April, Air Force Maj. Gen. Mark Welsh said. Lockheed Martin said it's making improvements.

Pentagon officials will decide March 22 whether the $71 billion program can enter the next testing, a crucial phase that's already been delayed three times since 2001. Passage would allow the Pentagon this year to approve full-rate production. It's a decision worth as much as $21 billion for Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed, the largest U.S. defense contractor.

About 1,200 Boeing employees work on the F/A-22 in Seattle, assembling the wings and the rear fuselage as well as integrating the avionics and planning and implementing a flight-training system.

Sepracor shares soar 56% after drug's preliminary OK

MARLBORO, Mass. — Shares of drug developer Sepracor surged yesterday following preliminary approval from federal regulators for the company's new insomnia drug.

Sepracor officials said Saturday they hope to start marketing Estorra as early as the middle of this year after receiving an "approvable" letter from the Food and Drug Administration.

Shares of Marlboro-based Sepracor closed up $15.99, or more than 56 percent, to $44.30 yesterday. The company also said it would begin the final stage of a sales-force expansion to 1,250 people nationwide. It currently has about 450 sales personnel, among just under 1,000 total employees, company officials said.

Gateway plans to cut jobs from 7,400 to 'mid-5,000'

LOS ANGELES — Gateway, the personal computer maker that has lost $1.84 billion in the past three years, will reduce its work force to "mid-5,000" from the current 7,400.

"We clearly have some additional work" to reduce the number of employees, Chief Financial Officer Roderick Sherwood III said at a semiconductor conference in California.

Yahoo! to cast wider net with online search engine

SAN FRANCISCO — Internet giant Yahoo! is adopting a new system for indexing Web pages that will charge businesses to include more material currently unlisted in its online search engine, marking the first volley in a duel with its former ally Google.

Sunnyvale-based Yahoo! is touting the approach, scheduled to be announced today, as a practical way to assure its search engine captures more of the so-called "Deep Web" — the billions of pages that aren't found during periodic crawls of the Internet.

Judge denies mistrial in case of former Qwest executives

DENVER — A judge yesterday rejected a request for a mistrial for four former Qwest executives accused of plotting to help the company improperly book $34 million in revenue.

Thomas Hall, Bryan Treadway, Grant Graham and John Walker pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud and conspiracy related to a $100 million contract for Qwest to install computer-network equipment for Arizona schools.

Lawyers for Hall, Walker and Graham requested a mistrial last week after testimony from former Qwest executive Ronald Carrington regarding who was paying the legal fees of various witnesses and defendants.

U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn has ruled that the issue cannot be brought up in trial, but he said yesterday he could strike certain testimony from the record.

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

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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