Holiday Week Update: Sallie Mae's Roller Coaster Ride

It has been a rough week for Sallie Mae, the nation's largest student lender, and it hasn't been that great for people trying to travel. Shoppers, however, have been lured back to the malls with the promise of discounts for all those gift cards.

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Sallie Mae said Thursday that it faces an investigation by the Department of Education into its billing practices and that its business of using loans subsidized by the federal government will be significantly less profitable because of changes mandated by Congress. The disclosures came in a regulatory filing outlining the Reston student lender's plans to raise $3 billion to satisfy an agreement requiring the company to buy back its own stock at above-market prices. The company has been on a roller coaster since the unraveling of a planned $25.3 billion buyout last fall. Its shares closed yesterday at their lowest level since 2001. See story.

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Air travel over the holidays has been marred by bad weather and airline scheduling snafus, delaying numerous flights at Washington area airports. See story.

Meanwhile, retailers are trying to stretch the holiday shopping season past Christmas, using steep discounts to lure consumers who are flush with gift cards. See story.

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Real Estate Dispatches:

Transparency is taking on a whole new meaning in the nation's capital as developers and architects have taken to using glass to sheath new office projects in downtown Washington. See story.

On the commercial real estate front: Despite tight credit market conditions and uncertainty about the broader economy, some developers are still finding ways to build and are continuing to launch projects.See story.

And on the residential real estate front, some agents are finding a profitable niche in handling foreclosure sales, which have surged amid the housing downturn. See story.

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On the Benefits Front: Employers in the District could be required to provide paid sick leave to their workers under a measure being considered by the city council. Some firms say the requirement could force them to cut benefits. A vote is scheduled Jan 8. See story.

By Mike Shepard  |  December 28, 2007; 1:39 AM ET  | Category:  Finance , Sallie Mae
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