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Information in this article, originally published June 21, 2006, was corrected June 22, 2006. In an earlier version of a brief below, incorrectly stated that regulators approving Sprint Nextel's acquisition of Nextel Partners said the takeover would give Sprint 105,400 more subscribers. That figure, supplied by a wire service, is wrong; the right number is 2.1 million subscribers.
Attorney general appeals ruling on wine and beer
The state Attorney General's Office on Tuesday appealed a federal court ruling that fundamentally alters who profits from the sale of wine and beer and how much consumers pay for it.
Costco sued the state Liquor Control Board in February 2004, charging its regulation of the sale and distribution of wine and beer is anti-competitive and violates a federal antitrust law designed to limit monopolies.
Since the 1930s, the state has required most retailers to purchase wine and beer through distributors — and used other controls — to artificially inflate prices to prevent overconsumption and block any entity from monopolizing the system.
U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman on April 21 ordered the state to stop enforcing key parts of its system, ruling that the state's interests do not trump federal law.
The Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, an intervener in the case, also filed an appeal.
The appeal, which seeks review in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, could take up to 24 months.
Sprint Nextel can now buy affiliate
Sprint Nextel won final regulatory approval to buy Kirkland-based Nextel Partners, its largest affiliate.
Gary Forsee, Sprint's chief executive officer, has been buying affiliates of the former Sprint and Nextel Communications after their $36 billion merger in August.
Sprint and Nextel Partners agreed on a $6.5 billion purchase price in December after four months of legal wrangling. The takeover will give Sprint 2.1 million more subscribers.
Nextel Partners sells Nextel's push-to-talk service mainly to business customers with five to 50 employees in small and midsize markets.ZymoGenetics
Thrombin trial in final stages
ZymoGenetics said Tuesday it has finished enrolling patients in a final-stage clinical trial of its Thrombin treatment for surgical bleeding. That means the company is on schedule to report results from the trial at a scientific meeting before the end of the year.
The Seattle biotech said it originally estimated enrolling 400 to 600 patients in the trial. In an interim trial analysis, an independent study monitoring committee recommended that 400 patients would be enough to compare Thrombin to a commonly used treatment derived from cow blood.
ZymoGenetics said it plans to submit an application to the Food and Drug Administration by year's end to allow Thrombin on the market. If it receives FDA approval, Thrombin would be the first product ZymoGenetics has developed on its own.Meatpacking
Japan OKs lifting of U.S. beef ban
Japan has agreed to remove its ban on U.S. beef imports, imposed in January amid concerns over mad-cow disease, the agriculture ministry said today.
The breakthrough resolves a long-running trade dispute and gives U.S. ranchers access to what was once their most lucrative export market.
The resumption is contingent on finding no more problems during inspections, ministry official Hiroaki Ogura said.
Beef shipments were halted in January after Japanese officials found a veal shipment that contained backbone, which Asian countries consider at risk for mad-cow disease. The cuts are eaten in the United States and other countries.
Japan's market was worth $1.4 billion annually when it banned U.S. beef in response to the first U.S. case of mad-cow disease in 2003. The ban had only briefly been lifted before Japan halted shipments.Lego
1,200 jobs to go in restructuring
Lego, whose iconic plastic building blocks have entertained millions of children for more than 70 years, said Tuesday it will be shedding 1,200 of its worldwide jobs to remold itself in an era when kids prefer playing with electronic gadgets.
The Denmark-based company, one of the last to produce toys in the U.S., plans to close its U.S. manufacturing plant and lay off 300 people there in early 2007.
The production from Enfield, Conn., is to be moved to Mexico, where costs are lower.
The company's distribution facility in Enfield will also be affected, Lego said, without providing details.
At Lego's headquarters in Denmark, up to 900 production employees will lose their jobs over the next three years as nearly a third of the domestic production will be moved to the Czech Republic, the company said.
Discounts, selection strengthen sales
Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer and QFC stores, said Tuesday its first-quarter profit rose 4 percent as discounts and wider selection helped drive sales higher than expected.
Stock in the nation's largest traditional grocery chain jumped when Kroger affirmed its earnings forecast for the year and boosted its outlook at stores open at least 15 months.
For the quarter ended May 20, profit grew to $306.4 million, or 42 cents a share — matching Wall Street expectations — from $294.3 million, or 40 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding legal charges of 3 cents a share, Kroger would have earned 45 cents a share.
Revenue rose about 8 percent to $19.4 billion from $18 billion.
Kroger shares gained $1.01, or 5.2 percent, to $20.47.
World Wealth Report
World grows richer with millionaires
The ranks of the world's millionaires swelled by more than half a million people last year to 8.7 million, according to a study released Tuesday.
Experts at the financial-services firm Merrill Lynch and consultancy Capgemini, which conducted the research, credited strong global economic growth as well as solid market performance.
But they said they expected some slowing of those forces in coming years, and thus a reduction in the growth of millionaire echelons.
The study, the 10th annual World Wealth Report, said the number of millionaires grew more than 6 percent last year and has nearly doubled since 4.5 million millionaires were counted in 1996.
Compiled from Bloomberg News and Seattle Times business staff
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company