Early Briefing: Richard Darman

*Richard G. Darman, the budget director under President George H.W. Bush who persuaded him to go back on "no new taxes," died at the age of 64. He was an adviser at the Carlyle Group of the District and chairman of AES of Arlington. See obituary and appreciation

*Washingtonians responded to shortages at the Capital Area Food Bank with increases in food and money donations. But corporate donations last year dropped 44 percent from 2006, and food bank officials are worried that the slumping economy could bring worse conditions in 2008. See story

*Two Montgomery County Council members will propose a bill that supporters say would make the county the first in the nation to require written contracts defining working conditions and wages for in-home domestic workers who put in at least 20 hours a week. See story

*Shareholder Harbinger Capital Partners told Media General, the Richmond-based owner of the Tampa Tribune and 23 TV stations, that it seeks representation on the boards. Harbinger also said it increased its stake in Media General to 18.4 percent. Mario Gabelli, the biggest investor in Media General, backed calls for changes.
Harbinger also called for changes to the board of the New York Times Co.

*Fannie Mae said its holdings of mortgage assets rose at a 3.3 percent annual rate in December. They fell at a 15.6 percent rate in November. Fannie Mae's portfolio declined 0.1 percent for all of 2007. It was the third straight annual contraction after more than a dozen years of growing 10 percent or more.

*Investment banker Morgan Stanley will manage the sale of Mittal Steel's Sparrows Point steel mill near Baltimore, a court-appointed trustee said. The firm has begun the process of soliciting bids from prospective buyers of the plant, said Joseph G. Krauss, a Washington attorney who was appointed in August to oversee the sale.

*Lockheed Martin and Boeing, the top two U.S. defense contractors, said they would consider whether to submit a joint bid to design and build a new long- range bomber for the Air Force. Lockheed, of Bethesda, and Boeing, of Chicago, said they expect a bid request by 2010 to develop the bomber by 2018. The bomber might be unmanned, they said.

*Maxjet Airways of Dulles wants to put its all-business-class airline up for auction but is searching for a lead bidder to set a floor price. Maxjet, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month, asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to allow it to hold an auction of substantially all its assets but reserved the right to designate a lead bidder before the auction takes place.

*DiamondRock Hospitality lowered its 2007 adjusted funds from operations outlook, partly on weaker-than-expected demand in markets such as Chicago and Boston. The real estate investment trust now anticipates adjusted FFO of $1.55 per share, down from its prior forecast for FFO $1.58 to $1.62 per share.

By Terri Rupar  |  January 26, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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