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Originally published July 26, 2014 at 8:00 PM | Page modified July 27, 2014 at 4:00 PM

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Boeing ready to help Iran keep airliners flying

Boeing has a government-approved deal to sell Iran Air some replacement parts to sustain its aging fleet of commercial airliners. Also: Seahawks hand out blingy Super Bowl rings to all staffers; Trupanion’s stock offering got an experimental assist from a social IPO website.


Seattle Times business staff

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@sfed As stated in a quote from the article: "while the U.S. wanted to make life difficult for Iran, there was also... MORE
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There will be no Iranian pilots picking up planes at Boeing’s Everett delivery center any time soon.

But the company has reached an agreement to sell the Islamic Republic’s main airline unspecified replacement parts and other items for sustaining Iran’s aging fleet of commercial airliners, according to a regulatory filing this past week.

Joel Johnson, an international-affairs analyst at The Teal Group, says Iran Air “has seven or eight ancient 747s that have been quietly maintained with needed parts by a European carrier over the years, with implicit approval of the U.S.”

In April, both Boeing and engine-maker General Electric said they’d received licenses for transactions to bolster the safety of that fleet from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), which oversees the global net of economic sanctions that the U.S. and other countries have lowered over Iran.

The U.S. temporarily exempted civilian air safety from its economic sanctions late last year amid optimism Iran and the so-called P5+1 group of nations could agree on limits to Iran’s nuclear programs.

The new filing says Boeing between April and June 30 “entered into an agreement and engaged in related discussions with Iran Air ... (for) the potential sale of certain goods and services related to the safety of flight, including airplane parts, manuals, drawings, service bulletins, and navigation charts and data.”

However, Boeing “generated no gross revenues or net profits” in the second quarter from its Iran dealings, says the filing.

GE disclosed in April it had agreed to service 18 engines from Iran Air’s planes at facilities in Germany.

It’s a touchy subject, sensitive enough that neither Boeing nor the Treasury’s sanctions office would discuss details.

Boeing’s Washington, D.C., office says only that the company’s license, due to expire July 20, was extended by four months. The nuclear talks, originally scheduled to conclude in July, were similarly extended.

Despite the sanctions, says Johnson, American authorities have looked the other way as Europeans kept Iran’s civil jetliners going because “while the U.S. wanted to make life difficult for Iran, there was also reluctance to have a catastrophic airline incident that could be attributed to U.S. sanctions.”

The last plane Boeing delivered to Iran Air was a 747-100 in August 1979, according to its website. Three months later Iranian militants seized hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and set the course for decades of mutual hostility.

Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia says selling Boeing jets to Iran would only come once a shift in political relations removes the legal obstacles, but he takes the long view.

“It could be in a month. It could be in 10 years. But pariah state status doesn’t go on forever. Something will change.”

— Rami Grunbaum: rgrunbaum@seattletimes.com

Seahawks hand out rings to entire staff

Kirkland’s Carillon Point is now the stomping grounds for investment firms and tech companies, but three decades ago it was home turf to the Seahawks.

That history was recalled this past week when the Seahawks returned to the Woodmark Hotel for a celebration to hand out much-anticipated Super Bowl rings to the team staff.

Seahawks players and coaches received their Tiffany & Co. championship rings in June but the remaining members of the organization slipped theirs on Tuesday.

Seahawks spokeswoman Suzanne Lavender said every full-time employee for the team, about 400 people, received a ring.

The Super Bowl rings have a 12th Man flag included in the design to represent the team’s die-hard fans, and each is covered in more than 150 diamonds, 40 sapphires, and one neon tsavorite eagle eye. Seahawks owner Paul Allen is clearly spending more than what the National Football League allots to the championship team, $5,000 each for up to 150 rings.

Bellevue Rare Coins, which specializes in coins and jewelry, said it would pay at least $50,000 for one of the blingy mementos.

Fans can buy a replica — without so much bling — for $1,600 plus tax, through Tiffany’s.

John Nordstrom, whose family owned the Seahawks in their 1976 inaugural season and is now on the team’s board of advisers, also received a ring, Seahawks.com reported. So did former defensive end and member of the board of advisers Jacob Green.

The Seahawks currently train at the 19-acre Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, but from 1976 to 1985, Carillon Point was their home.

The property was rebuilt in 1989 and now includes 450,000 square feet of office space, as well as retail, restaurants and a private 200-slip marina.

— Coral Garnick: cgarnick@seattletimes.com

Trupanion IPO tests stock-buying mechanism

Pet insurer Trupanion experimented with a new mechanism for widening access to IPO shares when it went public July 17, and the outcome was “a happy surprise,” says head of marketing Margi Tooth.

Trupanion used the investment platform Loyal3, which lets small investors put just a few hundred dollars into an IPO on the same terms as big market players.

The veterinarians Trupanion works with, as well as staff and others associated with the company, could register with the Loyal3 website and sign up to buy shares, anywhere from $100 to $10,000 worth.

Participants could also use the platform to encourage their friends to join in.

“It’s just a lovely way of reaching people that we otherwise wouldn’t have known to reach,” says Tooth, adding that some 250 individual investors bought into the IPO through Loyal3, a majority of them veterinarians. “The feedback I’ve gotten is ‘I can’t believe how easy it was.’ ”

That apparently wasn’t the feedback surrounding the June IPO of GoPro, the hot video-camera startup that attracted strong demand and led to complaints by some would-be Loyal3 investors that they couldn’t get the shares they sought, according to media reports.

Tooth says Trupanion didn’t extend its Loyal3 deal to Trupanion’s tens of thousands of customers for that reason. The website was allocated up to 2 percent of the Trupanion IPO, and Tooth says it sold about three quarters of that allotment.

Loyal3 Securities, based in San Francisco, has only handled a half dozen IPOs since getting into that business in 2012. A company official declined to comment.

— Rami Grunbaum: rgrunbaum@seattletimes.com

CEO inquiry comes a little late

Seattle-based L&L Energy said this past week it “intends to commence an investigation into certain actions taken by Mr. (Dickson) Lee while he served as CEO.”

That kind of announcement usually makes headlines — but not when it comes almost four months after the former CEO’s indictment for securities fraud and 10 months after L&L’s operations were called into question by short sellers.

The company, which operates coal mines in China, may have surprised its remaining investors more with the disclosure that it had dismissed its auditing firm and not hired a new one.

It blamed that move on a lack of cash, noting that “since the public indictment of the company and Mr. Lee, the company has had difficulty collecting receivables in China.”

The filing, made Wednesday, sent the stock down 60 percent on Friday to 17 cents a share.

Lee, who was charged with faking the signature of a CFO who didn’t exist in order to complete SEC filings, has pleaded not guilty. His trial is set for November.

The company itself was indicted on a charge of securities fraud in May, becoming what U.S. prosecutors said was the first U.S.-based China company to face criminal charges here.

— Rami Grunbaum: rgrunbaum@seattletimes.com



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