[Hpn] Seattletimes.com: Extended jobless benefits might end soon, state says

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Wed, 10 Dec 2003 11:14:00 -0800


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Extended jobless benefits might end soon, state says
Full story: http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=bizbriefs10&date=20031210




						OLYMPIA — Washington may have one of the highest jobless rates in the nation, but it might not be high enough to keep alive a state program that has provided additional assistance to laid-off workers who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits.

The state Employment Security Department said  yesterday  that the extended-benefits program is likely to end soon. It has been in place since January 2002.

The U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for making the determination whether the program will continue — based on a three-month jobless-rate average — and that notice is expected Dec. 19, said Jerry Iyall, a spokesman for the Employment Security Department. 

State officials plan to mail out a notice  Monday to the 26,450 people who may no longer be eligible or receive the extended benefits.

"Many people were counting on this money and we don't want them to be surprised," Iyall said.

A federal program that provides extended benefits may also soon expire unless Congress votes to renew it.

For more information, go to go2ui.com

Number transfers easier, AT&T Wireless says

 WASHINGTON — AT&T Wireless Services, responding to consumer complaints and questions from federal regulators, said it has fixed some problems that delayed transfers of customers' numbers to other cell-phone companies.

 Transfers of numbers to and from AT&T Wireless, the third-largest U.S. mobile-phone carrier, are occurring at a rate that's "on par with other carriers," the Redmond-based company said. AT&T Wireless said regulators were, in part, to blame for its difficulties.

 AT&T Wireless is the subject of more than half the 600 complaints to the Federal Communications Commission over new rules requiring carriers to transfer customers' numbers when they switch providers. The FCC didn't provide adequate guidelines for testing before the rule took effect Nov. 24, said Michael Keith, the company's president of mobility services.

Ruling lets Weyerhaeuser buy timber from Oregon forests

FEDERAL WAY — Weyerhaeuser won a final ruling yesterday allowing it to continue buying timber from state-owned forests in Oregon.

The 2-1 decision by the Oregon State Land Board follows a similar ruling last week by the state's forestry department to retain  harvesting rules.

The owners of several sawmills wanted to bar Federal Way-based Weyerhaeuser from buying alder logs from state land, arguing that its control of more than 70 percent of the $400 million market gives it power to squeeze them out. After killing off small mills by paying high prices for alder, the sawmill owners said, Weyerhaeuser could eventually underbid,  lowering the state's proceeds from its wood sales.

The request followed an April jury ruling that Weyerhaeuser had violated federal antitrust laws by manipulating the alder market and awarded damages worth $79 million to a now-defunct sawmill in Longview. Weyerhaeuser is appealing that antitrust ruling.

Wisconsin firm acquired by Esterline for $10 million

BELLEVUE — Esterline, a Bellevue aerospace and defense supplier, will purchase all of the outstanding stock of a Wisconsin-based software engineering company for $10 million.

Avista, which employs about 100 people in Platteville,  Wis., will help develop software for primary flight displays, air-data computers and engine-control systems.

Founded in 1987, Avista caters to the medical and aerospace industries.

OfficeMax shareholders OK Boise Cascade merger

 BOISE, Idaho — OfficeMax shareholders yesterday overwhelmingly approved the merger with Boise Cascade.

 More than 99 percent of the shareholders in Cleveland-based OfficeMax, the nation's third-largest office-products retailer, backed the deal that will bring them a premium of nearly 70 percent on their stock from its price a year ago.

 Just under 77 percent of stockholders in Boise-based Boise Cascade voted for the acquisition that should more than double the company's office-products distribution business.

 The deal is worth about $1.4 billion, $250 million more than the initial estimate when the deal was announced in mid-July.

 OfficeMax also said yesterday Chief Executive Michael Feuer plans to resign and form a venture-capital firm.

Cell Therapeutics reports progress in lymphoma tests

SEATTLE — Seattle-based Cell Therapeutics said yesterday that in a study of 22 patients with relapsed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma who took its new experimental drug Pixantrone and chemotherapy, 13 had tumors disappear and four had tumors shrink in half.

The company made the presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Diego.

Nation / World

Freddie Mac reportedly has agreed to settlement

 WASHINGTON  — Mortgage-finance giant Freddie Mac has agreed to pay $125 million to settle a federal inquiry into management lapses that led to the company underreporting $5 billion in earnings, the Washington Post reported today. 

 Citing unnamed sources, the Post said Freddie Mac's board agreed to the consent decree — to be announced this morning — with its regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. The company did not admit or deny guilt as part of the settlement, the Post said, but agreed to beef up internal controls and public disclosure.

 Freddie Mac over the summer replaced five senior executives, including former Chief Executive Leland Brendsel and his successor, Greg Parseghian, for their roles in the accounting problems, which occurred in a three-year period from 2000 through 2002.

 On Sunday, the company named former American Stock Exchange head Richard Syron as its new chief executive.

J.P. Morgan, Citigroup to underwrite UAL loan

 CHICAGO — J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup are joining forces to underwrite a $2 billion loan that will allow United Airlines parent UAL to emerge from bankruptcy protection, said Bill Repko, head of J.P. Morgan's bankruptcy-financing group.

 "We think the world of United and what this management team has accomplished," Repko said.

 Chicago-based UAL filed the industry's biggest Chapter 11 bankruptcy a year ago yesterday, after losing $5.4 billion in 2001 and 2002.

 UAL plans to emerge from Chapter 11 by the middle of 2004. The company has said it still must complete negotiations to reduce aircraft debt; lease payments on a large number of planes; seek U.S. government approval for a loan guarantee; and find a way to make, postpone or avoid payments to its  employee-pension plans.

Global Crossing erases debt, emerges from bankruptcy

 SAN FRANCISCO — Global Crossing said it emerged from two years of bankruptcy protection, after erasing about $12 billion of debt and $40 billion in shareholder equity.

 The reorganization of the company, which operates a fiber-optic network spanning 100,000 miles and 27 countries, became effective yesterday. Singapore Technologies Telemedia, a government-owned investor in communications assets, will own 61.5 percent of the company.

 Global Crossing, which amassed more than $20 billion in operating losses in the past four years, exits Chapter 11 as prices for using its data network extend a three-year slide.  "We've got a tough '04 and the industry is not out of the woods yet," Global Crossing Chief Executive Officer John Legere said. 

In consolidation move, AOL trims 2 percent of workers

 NEW YORK  —  America Online is laying off 450 people, or 2 percent of its work force, as the struggling Internet service provider consolidates its software-development operations in California.

 AOL spokesman Jim Whitney said yesterday that the company would also close its  offices in San Francisco and San Diego as it consolidates its development efforts in Irvine for Southern California and Mountain View for Northern California.

 Whitney said the  reductions would leave AOL with a work force of 19,000. He said 100 of the people being laid off would be offered the opportunity to relocate.

Bullish outlook reiterated as HP shifts business units

 SAN FRANCISCO  —  Hewlett-Packard  announced yesterday that it would consolidate five business units into four and give two executives new roles in an attempt to boost sales to corporate customers.

 During HP's annual analyst conference in New York, Chairman and Chief Executive Carly Fiorina also reiterated her bullish outlook for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer maker.

 HP has estimated earnings per share will jump 20 percent in the next quarter, and yesterday Fiorina predicted the company would boost earnings per share by 20 percent for the entire 2004 fiscal year.

 Fiorina told Wall Street investors that HP executive vice president Ann Livermore would lead a new division responsible for services, computer servers, storage and software.

 Peter Blackmore, who joined HP after the May 2002 acquisition of Compaq Computer will head HP's enterprise sales force.

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




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