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Friday, February 17, 2006 - Page updated at 12:53 AM

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Business Digest

Microsoft offering prizes to MSN users

Pacific Northwest

Microsoft

Seek and ye may find prizes

Microsoft, lagging Google in Internet search, is offering prizes including Big Bertha golf clubs and Starbucks gift cards to users of its MSN site.

Visitors to Microsoft MSN Search & Win can earn rewards when they enter specific search keywords. Winners will see a special link in their results, according to the Web site.

The prizes, which also include Sony televisions and stays at Four Seasons hotels, highlight Microsoft's push to lure users from Google and Yahoo!

Microsoft ranks third in Internet search in the U.S. Chairman Bill Gates said in December that search engines should share some of the wealth they generate with users.

Corus Pharma

Public offering placed on hold

Corus Pharma formally withdrew its public-stock-offering documents Wednesday, citing a need for private financing until it resolves a pending intellectual-property lawsuit.

Dr. Bruce Montgomery, CEO of the Seattle biotech, said the lawsuit filed against his company by Chiron is going to trial in May, and "you can't go public" that close to a trial.

Montgomery said Corus also would have to update its registration statement to reflect its current condition. The company had filed to raise $100 million through the public markets in August 2004.

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Montgomery said he expects no trouble raising money from existing investors.

Nation / World

3GSM World Congress

Motorola displays Rokr E2, Razr V3

Motorola, with an array of products at the 3GSM World Congress this week in Barcelona, Spain, showed off the Rokr E2, the second version of the music phone that was heavily criticized after it was introduced in September.

Unlike the earlier Rokr, which was designed around Apple Computer's iTunes music service, the E2 is compatible with other services and isn't limited to loading only 100 songs.

Motorola also showed off the Razr V3, which is like the other popular slim devices, except that it is loaded with the iTunes service.

Pacific Northwest

Nike

Patent suit filedagainst Adidas

Nike filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Adidas-Salomon on Thursday, claiming its archrival makes shoes using elements of Nike's Shox cushioning technology.

The Beaverton, Ore., company alleges the new Kevin Garnett signature shoe by Adidas and its A3 shoes are among the footwear that violate the Nike patent.

"Despite Nike's patent protection, Adidas has built shoes that use Nike's technology," Nike spokesman Vada Manager said.

Adidas officials at the German company's U.S. headquarters in Portland were not immediately available for comment.

The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Lufkin, Texas, because the court has "expertise in complex intellectual-property cases" and can resolve it more quickly, Manager said.

Nike, now the world's largest athletic shoe and clothing manufacturer, began developing the cushioning technology almost 20 years ago when it trailed Reebok International as the No. 2 shoe maker.

Adidas, now the No. 2 manufacturer, last month completed its $3.8 billion purchase of Reebok, moving it closer in sales to Nike.

Nation and World

Burger King

IPO is expected to raise $400 million

Burger King's parent company expects to raise up to $400 million in an initial public offering and said it will use the proceeds to pay down debt, according to regulatory documents filed Thursday. The fast-food chain hopes to feed Wall Street's recent appetite for fast-food offerings.

Burger King Holdings didn't specify a per share price, what percent of the company's shares would be offered or set a date for the IPO, according to a copy of the registration statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

An unspecified part of the proceeds would be used to repay debt, including loans taken out to pay the chain's owners a $367 million dividend. The filing also showed the owner and insiders are being paid a $30 million fee and $33 million for options and restricted stock — bringing their total cash payout to $430 million.

MasterCard

CEO's cancer delays IPO to 2nd quarter

MasterCard, the nation's second-largest credit-card brand, on Thursday said it will postpone its initial public offering until the second quarter as its chief executive recovers from prostate cancer surgery.

The company had been expected to list on the New York Stock Exchange during the first quarter. However, MasterCard said President and CEO Bob Selander was recently diagnosed with the cancer, which would have made touting the IPO in an investor road show more difficult.

The IPO was expected to raise about $2.5 billion for MasterCard. The offering is expected to be the largest IPO since August 2004, when Internet search leader Google listed on the Nasdaq.

Selander said in a letter sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission that his operation was successful and his "prognosis excellent." He is now working from home, and expects to be back in the office early next month.

Enron

Witness recalls being mislead

Kenneth Rice, chief of Enron's struggling broadband unit, testified Thursday that his boss, Jeffrey Skilling, directed him to paint a rosy, misleading picture for the Enron board of directors that was in line with false statements Rice said he already made to financial analysts in 2001.

But Rice, the former CEO of Enron Broadband Services, said in his third day on the stand at the fraud and conspiracy trial of Skilling and founder Kenneth Lay that he had no documents and "only my recollection" to back up a conversation he had with Skilling, Enron's chief executive, as he prepared for a May 2001 meeting of the company's board.

Time Warner

Icahn takeover bid reportedly failed

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn may have failed to win enough support to take control of Time Warner, the world's biggest media company.

Icahn may nominate five directors to Time Warner's board, fewer than the 14 he had planned and not enough to gain control of the company, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the plans. New York-based Time Warner and Icahn may be nearing a settlement, the newspaper said.

Time Warner Chief Executive Officer Richard Parsons has been resisting the investor's push to split the company into four parts. Icahn may not have persuaded enough people to join his fight, or he may have decided to settle for smaller changes to improve his chances of success, said Greg Taxin, president of Glass, Lewis, a proxy advisory service.

NYSE

Grasso trial to fall near Spitzer's bid

The trial on former New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Chairman Richard Grasso's pay is set to start at the end of October, days before the New York gubernatorial election where Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is the leading contender.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Charles Ramos scheduled an Oct. 30 start date, said Juanita Scarlett, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office. Spitzer filed the lawsuit in May 2004 seeking the return of a portion of Grasso's $190 million compensation over eight years, alleging it violated a state law on not-for-profit organizations because it was "unreasonable."

Spitzer, a Democrat who gained prominence with investigations into conflicts of interest on Wall Street, leads polls among likely candidates in the Nov. 7 election.

Billionaire Kenneth Langone, former head of the NYSE's compensation committee and a co-defendant with 59-year-old Grasso, is helping raise funds for Democratic challenger Thomas Suozzi.

Compiled from Bloomberg News and Seattle Times staff

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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