Early Briefing: Raines Loses Bid For White House Docs

Investors have accused Franklin D. Raines, former Fannie Mae chairman, of securities fraud. (By Chris Kleponis -- Bloomberg News)

*A judge dismissed former Fannie Mae chairman Franklin D. Raines's subpoena of White House records, saying he was not convinced that a search of the records would turn up evidence relevant to the case. See story.

*As foreclosures reach record levels, area homeowners are going through the holiday season knowing that it might be the last in their houses. See story

*Circuit City of Richmond approved cash incentives of $1 million for executive vice presidents and $600,000 for senior vice presidents provided they stay with the company until 2011. See story

*An executive at Constellation Energy Group of Baltimore called congressional action this week a "huge step" toward putting together financing for the construction of a nuclear reactor in Calvert County, a project that is expected to cost more than $4 billion.

An appropriations bill passed this week offers federal guarantees on loans of as much as $18.5billion for new nuclear projects, Constellation said. Michael J. Wallace, an executive vice president, said Constellation remains concerned about how details of the program will be resolved in the coming months.

*The Justice Department's antitrust division has begun inquiring about pricing practices of U.S. chocolate makers.
In a statement, Mars spokeswoman Alice Nathanson confirmed that the McLean company has been contacted "regarding their inquiry concerning pricing practices in the U.S. chocolate confectionery industry," and that it "will cooperate with them if they initiate an investigation." The M&M and Snickers maker declined to comment further.

The inquiry was first reported by The Wall Street Journal last night. The newspaper said Nestle USA is also aware of the preliminary investigation, and Cadbury would neither confirm nor deny that it had been contacted by the Justice Department.

*Sprint Nextel of Reston said its new president and chief executive, Dan Hesse, will receive $1.2 million a year in salary and a $2.7 million signing bonus. Hesse also received restricted stock units worth $10 million that vest over three years, plus 3.3 million stock options, according to the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

*Sprint Nextel agreed to pay $52.2 million to more than 350 Missouri municipalities to settle a dispute over the taxability of its wireless-customer revenue. St. Louis County Circuit Judge Bernhardt Drumm and the cities must approve the preliminary settlement, Sprint said in a release.

*Former Sprint Nextel chief executive Gary D. Forsee was named University of Missouri president. He replaces Elson S. Floyd, who left in April for Washington State University. Forsee, a graduate of the University of Missouri-Rolla, resigned under pressure in October. See AP Online report.

*Freddie Mac of McLean said its portfolio of mortgage assets fell at a 3.1 percent annual rate last month, with the holdings shrinking by $1.8 billion, to $701.4 billion. The portfolio declined 16.9 percent in October. See press release.

*Lockheed Martin of Bethesda said it purchased privately held autonomous navigation software company PercepTek. Terms were not disclosed. See press release.

*Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm based in the District, can complete its $6.3 billion leveraged buyout of Manor Care now that West Virginia regulators lifted a stay that had been blocking it.

*Human Genome Sciences of Rockville said it acquired the rights to an investigational cancer drug from a Canadian firm called Aegera Therapeutics. HGS paid a $15 million fee up front for the drug, plus made an investment in the company. See press release.

*A day after its stock plummeted, Sallie Mae of Reston eliminated some risk that its falling share price could harm a buyback strategy. Sallie Mae said it entered a series of transactions assigning some equity forward contracts to Citigroup and eliminating price triggers. The sinking stock hurts Sallie Mae's efforts to control the timing and costs of share-buyback programs by using the contracts, which specify a transaction date. See press release.

*Lockheed Martin of Bethesda may sell Morocco 24 of its F-16 fighter jets with a total value of as much as $2.4 billion, the Defense Department said. The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency said it notified Congress of the possible sale.

*GE Commercial Finance and District-based Allied Capital raised $3.6 billion to fund smaller private-equity transactions after lenders tightened financing requirements. Unitranche Fund will provide loans of as much as $500 million, GE Commercial Finance and Allied Capital said.

By Terri Rupar  |  December 21, 2007; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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