Business

Business briefs

Frontier Bank opens first area branch

LACEY - Frontier Bank has opened its first branch in Thurston County at 130 Marvin Road S.E., Suite 140, Lacey, the branch manager said Thursday.

The 2,800-square-foot branch has a four-person staff, but expects to increase that to seven a year from now, branch manager Scott Beckwith said.

Everett-based Frontier Financial Corp., parent company to Frontier Bank, announced in May that it was entering the crowded Thurston County banking market.

A recent survey found that the county is home to 19 financial institutions.

Frontier Bank expects to add a second Thurston County branch in 2008, Beckwith said.

The branch's hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays, he said.

Music

Universal to sell digital songs with no constraints

Moving to blunt Apple Inc.'s growing power, the world's largest music company is bypassing the iPod maker to sell thousands of songs in an unrestricted digital format through many other online music stores.

Universal Music Group said Thursday that it would begin selling current and back albums - from a collection of stars as diverse as 50 Cent, Maroon 5, Amy Winehouse and Johnny Cash - without anti-piracy software that restricts their use.

AIG cites its low risk in home market

NEW YORK - American International Group on Thursday told investors the housing market would have to spiral to Depression-era levels before the insurer would be harmed by its exposure to the residential mortgage market.

The world's largest insurer has exposure to subprime loans - those made to people with tainted credit - as a lender, investor in mortgage-backed securities and supplier of mortgage insurance. But AIG characterized its exposure as minimal and said it would take declines of 30 percent to 40 percent in home values to dent the market for mortgages with stronger ratings, where most of its holdings lie.

Communications

Vonage reports loss of new subscribers

NEW YORK - Internet telephone company Vonage Holdings Corp. on Thursday reported a much reduced loss for the second quarter as it scaled back marketing, but it also saw a drastic drop in new subscribers.

The drop in recruitment means that Vonage is no longer the country's largest provider of Internet-based telephone service, a field it pioneered. Cable company Comcast Corp. reported 3 million digital phone subscribers at the end of the second quarter, surpassing Vonage's 2.45 million, an increase of just 57,000 lines from the first quarter.

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