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Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. considers moving headquarters to Chicago

Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. is considering moving its headquarters from Idaho to the Chicago area.

Employees at the Coeur d’Alene office were informed of the possible move on Dec. 20.

Company spokeswoman Stefany Bales says the company is in the process of evaluating the Chicago area as a headquarters location. She says no final decision has been made.

The company has 60 employees in its Coeur d’Alene headquarters.

Coeur d’Alene Mines is a $1.5 billion company that was incorporated in 1928 and traded on the New York Stock Exchange. It operates silver and gold mines in Nevada, Alaska, Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina and Australia. It no longer has any mining properties in Idaho.

The Associated Press

Micron reports losses for first quarter 2013

Micron Technology reported lower net sales and increased losses for the first quarter of fiscal 2013 that ended Nov. 29.

For the quarter, the Boise memory chip company recorded a net loss of $275 million. That amount is greater than net losses of $243 million reported for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, and $187 million for the first quarter of 2012.

Net sales also dropped to $1.8 billion in the quarter. That’s a decline from $2 billion in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 and $2.1 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2012.

In a conference call with analysts, CEO Mark Durcan reiterated that he expects Micron’s acquisition of Elpida Memory to close in the first half of 2013. Creditors for the Japanese memory chip company have until Feb. 2013 to vote on the $2.5 billion deal.

Micron’s Chief Financial Officer Ron Foster said the company registered a $25 million gain during the quarter as a result of the closing of Transform Solar in Nampa. That closure resulted in more than 250 lost jobs.

The company also announced layoffs of 30 people Dec. 12 in its light emitting diode division. Those layoffs are not reflected in the company’s first quarter results.

By Scott Ki

Fiber network expands to Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene

Telecommunications company tw telecom has expanded its high speed business fiber network to Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls. The company already provides service to Spokane, Wash., as well as Boise.

Bob Meldrum, vice president of corporate communications for tw telecom, said the expansion is intended to help Spokane customers with facilities in northern Idaho.

“That’s usually how we extend our network. Customers want us to extend to their remote locations and that opens access to new customers,” Meldrum said.

The tw telecom fiber, which is for business but not residential customers, is designed to offer resilient high speed Internet and Ethernet services. Meldrum said the network is designed in a ring shape, so that if there’s an outage in one part of the network, traffic can be rerouted in less than a second to avoid a disruption in service.

In a news release on the new service, Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Wilson said the network extension will help local businesses.

“The network is a valuable component in attracting new businesses into this region,” Wilson said. “We are pleased with tw telecom’s commitment and investment in delivering their powerful Ethernet network to help us create economic opportunity.”

IBR Staff

Treasure Valley real estate employment dropped 20 percent in the last year

The Brookings Institution continues to rank the Treasure Valley fifth out of 100 metro areas in recovery performance since the economy hit its lowest point, according to its quarterly Metro Monitor report.

The Boise metropolitan area, which stretches to Nampa, got points for being second overall in housing prices, which have increased by 7.5 percent since the middle of 2011, the lowest housing price point during the recession. Idaho ranks 40th in employment and 43rd in unemployment, according to the rankings.

Most industries tracked by the monitor have grown incrementally in the past year, with the notable exception of real estate professionals. Real estate, rental and leasing jobs have dropped 20 percent in the past year, even after a modest 2 percent increase in jobs in the past quarter, according to the report.

Construction jobs have increased by about 8 percent in the past year, although the number of jobs dropped in that industry by 3.5 percent in the last quarter. Mining jobs decreased by about 7.5 percent in the past year, making it the industry with the second highest drop in jobs that are tracked by Brookings. Government jobs were third with a loss of about 3 percent in the last year.

The Treasure Valley was ranked fifth by Brookings in the last quarter as well.

IBR staff

New York law firm investigates Micron

Lawyers from Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, have launched an investigation into Micron Technology’s request for approval from shareholders to amend and restate an equity incentive plan from 2004.

Micron’s board of directors proposes to issue 30 million more shares of Micron common stock to incent company management, directors, consultants and key employees.

In January, Micron shareholders are scheduled to vote on this recommendation from the company’s board at its annual meeting in Boise.

The New York-based law firm is investigating the board’s “potential breaches of fiduciary duties” in connection with the plan, which could dilute the value of Micron shares. As of Nov. 23, 1.02 billion shares of common stock were issued and outstanding.

Wendy Gerwick Couture is an associate professor of Law at the University of Idaho’s third-year law school program in Boise. She teaches and writes on securities regulation.

Couture said Faruqi & Faruqi is leading a “new wave” of such litigation against corporations that allege proxy materials are inadequate in some ways and that shareholders need more information before they make a decision. But, according to Couture, this type of litigation may not be about the shareholders, and may really be about getting a quick settlement from the company to make the lawsuit go away.

“This litigation serves an important goal which is to ensure full and fair disclosure to shareholders, which is essential, but perhaps the incentives are misaligned so that shareholders are potentially disserved by quick settlements as opposed to truly better disclosure,” she said.

Faruqi & Faruqi’s website lists about 500 investigations since 2005 that it has initiated against public companies.

Scott Ki

Report: Ada County’s Dynamis deal not criminal

A southeastern Idaho prosecutor says Ada County commissioners engaged in some “troubling” conduct but nothing criminal in their dealings with a company seeking to build a garbage-to-power plant at the local dump.

Bannock County Prosecutor Mark L. Hiedeman says he reviewed a 6,000-page report completed by a former FBI agent into Ada County commissioners’ negotiations with Dynamis Energy LLC that concluded in a $2 million payment to the company in 2010.

Hiedeman says commissioners held “serial meetings” some contend violate Idaho’s open meeting laws but concluded it’s not settled whether such meetings are illegal.

He also decided there’s no evidence commissioners received a benefit in exchange for actions regarding Dynamis.

The county, which faces litigation over Dynamis’ project, has asked for its money back.

Eagle-based Dynamis hasn’t indicated its intentions.

The Associated Press

University of Great Falls adding men’s lacrosse

The University of Great Falls is adding men’s lacrosse starting next fall.

UGF President Eugene McAllister and athletic director Gary Ehnes say they plan to start with a team of about 20 players and a coach in the first year, while increasing the team to 30 players and adding an assistant coach in the second year. By the 2015-16 school year, the team would have 40 players and be a member of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association.

Montana and Montana State have club teams affiliated with the MCLA. UGF’s program will offer scholarships. Three Frontier Conference schools — Westminster College, Southern Oregon and the College of Idaho — have lacrosse teams.

Lacrosse is a contact sport in which players pass a small rubber ball around with baskets at the end of long-handled sticks. The objective is to shoot the ball into the opponent’s goal. The game is played on a field the same size as a soccer pitch.

The Associated Press

Foes of Idaho high-rise aim to high-center project

Foes of a proposed high-rise building in downtown Coeur d’Alene aim to high-center the project by asking local officials to dump another panel’s decision that helped clear roadblocks for the development.

The Coeur d’Alene Press reports a would-be neighbor of the 14-story retail and condominium complex wants the Coeur d’Alene City Council to reject the local Design Review Committee’s approval.

Harold Damiano, the neighbor, says that panel failed to consider how the project would hurt neighboring property values.

The design panel decided the project being touted by an Aspen, Colo.-based real-estate developer at a prominent intersection fits all of Coeur d’Alene’s building guidelines and standards.

Deputy City Attorney Warren Wilson said Damiano’s appeal could go to the City Council in January.

Opponents of the project have threatened to sue.

 The Associated Press

Idaho man picked to head Rhodes Scholar program

The board that oversees one of the world’s most prestigious academic scholarships has picked an Idaho resident to lead the program for the next five years.

On Tuesday, 51-year-old Charles Conn of Ketchum was selected to be the next Warden of Rhodes House, which is affiliated with the Rhodes Scholarship program. Conn has lived in Ketchum for 10 years, has served on the Ketchum City Council and helped found the local food bank.

Conn — selected to be a Rhodes Scholar in 1983 — says he is honored to serve and have an opportunity to give back to the program, which is nearing its 110th anniversary.

Winners of the scholarship are provided expenses for up to four years of study at Oxford University in England.

The Associated Press

Idaho personal income sees increase

Personal income in Idaho jumped eight-tenths of a percentage point in the third quarter of 2012 compared to the second quarter.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Dec. 18 that record farm earnings and strong nonfarm business profits pushed Idaho’s total personal income to nearly $54 billion on an annualized basis for the third quarter.

The percentage growth ranked Idaho fifth nationally behind North Dakota, Arkansas, Indiana and Montana.

Personal income is the value of all wages, business profits, investment earnings and transfer payments such as Social Security, unemployment benefits and pensions.

Wages in Idaho rose half a percentage point to rank 21st among states.

The Associated Press

New U.S. Dept. of Labor rule would speed retirement payments from bankrupt firms

A new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor would make it easier for trustees of companies in Chapter 7 bankruptcy to distribute assets from its retirement plans.

The rule from the agency’s Employee Benefits Security Administration would allow bankrupt companies’ trustees to use the agency’s Abandoned Plan Program to streamline the process of distributing funds from plans, including 401(k) plans, while reducing fees for things such as annual reporting, legal compliance and other administrative services. The move is aimed at reducing the time and resources required to “wind up” a bankrupt company’s retirement plan.

The proposed regulation is meant “to help workers and retirees of bankrupt companies gain access to their retirement money sooner,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi in a statement. “Far too often, the retired workers of these companies are unable to obtain their hard-earned retirement savings in a timely way.”

Without the rule change extending the Abandoned Plan Program to Chapter 7 trustees, bankruptcy law would require the company’s trustee to administer individual account retirement plans, a move that is often time consuming, procedurally more complicated and more costly.

Dolan Media Newswires

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