Early Briefing: Sallie's Legal Action Continues
*Sallie Mae Chairman Albert Lord said his firm suggested to J.C. Flowers & Co., whose earlier deal to buy the student lender collapsed, that it submit another bid and was rebuffed. The company also reduced its earnings outlook for the quarter and all of 2008. See story
*The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments called for local governments to build "green" structures and push private developers to follow suit. See story.
*Development companies described their visions for Poplar Point, competing for the right to partner with the D.C. government to develop the 110-acre strip of parkland in Ward 8. Bidders are Clark Realty Capital, a joint venture from Archstone Smith and Madison Marquette, Forest City, and a joint effort from General Growth, Mid-City Urban and Doracon. See story.
*Labor leaders refuted criticism from local activists that the Nationals ballpark hasn't hired enough D.C. residents. See story
*Steve Case's private foundation is launching America's Giving Challenge, an effort to draw the masses to philanthropy through the Internet. See story.
*The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), expressed concern in a letter to Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey that the Justice Department may "rush through" an approval of Sirius Satellite Radio's purchase of its rival, XM Satellite Radio Holdings of the District. Conyers said he was "dismayed to learn" that Thomas O. Barnett, the head of the department's antitrust division, may approve the deal "over the objections of department staff." See wire report.
*A bipartisan group of 28 senators, including Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), urged Defense Secretary Robert Gates to extend orders of Lockheed Martin's F-22 fighter. The Pentagon's intent to stop production after the final 20 planes are purchased in fiscal 2009 is "ill-advised and premature," the senators wrote in a letter.
*A federal judge approved a $30 million judgment against eBay more than four years after a jury concluded that it had infringed on a MercExchange patent. U.S. District Court Judge Jerome Friedman's certification edges MercExchange, of Great Falls, a step closer to cashing in on its long-running battle against eBay. The dispute revolves around eBay's "Buy It Now" option, which sells merchandise at a fixed price instead of fluctuating bids. MercExchange contends the system tramples on its patented technology. See wire report.
*Two large government contracting trade groups based in Arlington, the Professional Services Council and the Contract Services Association of America, said they would merge. The new entity will be known as the Professional Services Council and will include the membership of 330 government contractors.
*Mittal Steel said it is consulting with a court-appointed trustee on whether to terminate its agreement to sell the Sparrows Point steel mill near Baltimore to an international investment group led by Esmark. Delays in closing the deal, which the parties announced in August, have caused Esmark's agreements with its partners in E2 Acquisition to lapse, raising the possibility of a revised proposal for financing the $1.35 billion transaction. See Baltimore Sun story.
*Mobile Posse, a McLean company that sends content such as weather notices and advertisements to cellphones, is to announce today that it has secured $10 million in venture capital from SoftBank Capital, Court Square Ventures, Columbia Capital and unnamed individual investors. It's the second round of venture capital for the company; the amount of the first round was not disclosed. The company's board includes a number of prominent Washington business leaders, including former Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell and Mark Ein, founder and chief executive of VentureHouseGroup.
*Mortgage finance company Freddie Mac said it plans to issue a new five-year, $3 billion reference notes security due Dec. 21, 2012. Freddie Mac of McLean also announced plans to launch a $1 billion reopening of its 4.125 percent two-year reference notes security that matures on Nov. 30, 2009. Both issues will be priced Friday and will settle Dec. 17. See press release.
*Capital One of McLean said it expects to take a charge of about $80 million in the fourth quarter from a $2.25 billion legal settlement Visa USA reached with American Express in November.The settlement stemmed from a 2004 lawsuit filed by American Express against MasterCard International, Visa and their member banks. The suit alleged that the defendants illegally blocked American Express from the U.S. bank-issued card business. See SEC filing.
* Web-based wireless seller InPhonic won court approval to borrow $2.3 million in bankruptcy financing from a private-equity firm that is seeking to buy the company, which filed for Chapter 11 protection last month. Judge Kevin Gross approved the financing Tuesday but warned creditors, the District company and private-equity firm Versa Capital Management that they "are running very serious risks." Lawyers say InPhonic is losing more than $3 million a week, and the interim loan is only enough to cover this week's payroll.
*The Federal Home Loan Bank system's Office of Finance promoted John Fisk to chief executive, elevating him to the top role at the largest U.S. borrower after the federal government. Fisk, 51, served for more than three years as the No. 2 executive in the debt-issuing office for the 12 government-chartered cooperatives, according to a statement. The move will be effective Jan. 1. The regional Home Loan Banks, which have 8,100 members, jointly sell debt through their finance office, based in Reston. See press release.
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