Early Briefing

*Fannie Mae of the District said the value of its mortgage portfolio fell 15.6 percent in November, to $722 billion from $732.3 billion in October.

*Esmark, whose attempt to buy ArcelorMittal's Sparrows Point steel plant for $1.35 billion was terminated this week, said it has found new investors for a second bid and still expects to buy the Baltimore mill.

"We've reconfigured our partnership and are considering another bid," Craig Bouchard, a co-founder of Esmark who led the group of companies wanting to buy the plant, said in an interview. "One of the new parties is significant. We believe we are going to be victorious" in buying the plant, he said.

*The firm that conducts the District government's annual financial audit has asked for an additional two months to complete its work because the tax office embezzlement scheme under investigation has meant more reviews are necessary. BDO Seidman made the request to the city's inspector general, D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi said in a statement. Gandhi said that he agreed with the request and that he believes the city's audit will not be downgraded because of the delay.

*The Virginia State Corporation Commission gave conditional approval to what would be the state's first large-scale wind farm, an array of as many as 20 windmills in Highland County.

The project, on a mountain ridge near the West Virginia border, has been opposed by neighbors who say it would block scenery and injure birds and bats. The commission ordered the developer, Highland New Wind Development, to pay for monitoring of the effect on wildlife. Construction must begin in the next two years, according to a news release.

By Terri Rupar  |  December 22, 2007; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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