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PNNL hires ex-ReliOn CEO

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Davis (The Spokesman-Review)
Compiled from staff and wire reports The Spokesman-Review

The former chief executive officer of a Spokane Valley fuel cell company recently was hired for a top job at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Mike Davis started last Monday as associate director for PNNL’s Energy Science and Technology Directorate and will oversee the laboratory’s projects in the energy sector. Davis was CEO of ReliOn (formerly Avista Labs) until March 2004, when current CEO John Werderman was hired. At that point, Davis became chief technology officer.

In his new position, Davis will manage 290 people working on issues involving renewable energy, fossil fuels and nuclear energy. PNNL, located in the Tri-Cities, employs 3,900 people, has a $650 million budget and has been managed by Ohio-based Battelle since the lab’s inception in 1965, according to a PNNL news release.

“Every 10, 15 years, I bounce back and forth between the public sector and the private sector,” said Davis, who served as assistant energy secretary under the first President Bush. He also is the current chairman of the National Hydrogen Association.

Davis said he continues to hold equity in ReliOn and believes the company is in good hands.

“I certainly want the company to do great things,” Davis said.

Hecla adds property in Venezuela

Coeur d’Alene Hecla Mining Co. will double its land position in Venezuela with the purchase of a new gold property.

Hecla plans to buy the Guariche gold property from Triumph Gold Corp. of Vancouver, B.C., for $75,000, plus 1.24 million shares of stock. The deal is subject to approval by Hecla’s board of directors and Triumph’s shareholders.

“We’d like to be in Venezuela in the long term, and we would like to lock up the best properties there,” said Vicki Veltkamp, Hecla’s spokeswoman.

The acquisition would give Hecla access to a total of 150 square miles in three Venezuelan mining districts.

Hecla is Venezuela’s largest gold exporter. It operates an underground mine in the southern state of Bolivar, and is spending $30 million to develop a second underground gold mine, targeted to open in 2006.

The new property has the potential for an open-pit gold mine, according to Hecla. It is also located in Bolivar.

“There hasn’t been a lot of modern exploration there,” Veltkamp said. “It’s a very prospective area.”

Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. will start trading its shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange today under the symbol “CDM.”

The company will also continue to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “CDE.”

The Toronto Stock Exchange – also known as TSX – is one of the world’s largest mining exchanges. Trading there will give the company more access to Canadian investors, said Dennis Wheeler, Coeur d’Alene Mines’ chairman.

“Toronto Stock Exchange remains the world’s leading market for raising equity capital for mining and as a result attracts numerous foreign mining participants,” Robert Fabes, TSX’s senior vice president said in a press release last year.

Judge gives Scrushy attorneys more time

Birmingham, Ala. A judge on Monday delayed the corporate fraud trial of fired HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy by one week, granting his attorneys additional time to sort through potential evidence recently turned over by prosecutors.

In a brief order, U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre said she “reluctantly” agreed to the request “for good cause shown and in the interest of justice.”

Bowdre rescheduled opening statements for Jan. 25. The order came as Bowdre and attorneys in the case met behind closed doors to begin eliminating potential jurors.

Scrushy has pleaded not guilty to charges he was behind a conspiracy to overstate HealthSouth earnings by more than $2.6 billion from 1996 through 2002. He is accused of fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, perjury, money laundering and false corporate reporting.

The defense last week sought the delay of opening statements initially scheduled for Jan. 18. Scrushy lawyers said it was needed because the government turned over thousands of pages of documents containing potential evidence right before trial.

GM plans more layoffs this year


General Motors Corp., the world’s biggest automaker, plans to trim its U.S. work force again in 2005, part of an ongoing effort to reduce costs, chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner said Monday.

GM has trimmed its U.S. payroll every year since 2000, company figures show.

Wagoner, speaking to reporters at the North American International Auto Show, declined to place a number on targeted reductions, but he said the pattern likely would follow that of recent years.

Through the third quarter of 2004, GM reduced its U.S. hourly work force by about 6 percent versus the same period in 2003 — from 119,000 to 112,000, GM figures show.

For the same period, its smaller, salaried work force declined by 5 percent — from 40,000 to 38,000.

The bulk of the reductions were through attrition and retirements, GM said.

UPS orders 10 new Airbus A380s

Atlanta United Parcel Service Inc. has ordered 10 of Airbus’ new A380 super-jumbo jets as the shipping giant moves to expand the capacity of its air network to accommodate strong international growth.

In a related development Monday, UPS also cut a previous order for smaller A300s from the European aircraft maker — from 90 planes to 53.

Last week, Boeing Co. said it finished 2004 with 285 deliveries of commercial airplanes, matching its estimate but trailing Airbus for a second straight year. Last month, Airbus SAS said it was on track to deliver as many as 320 aircraft, up from 305 the previous year when it surpassed Boeing for the first time.

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