Early Briefing: State of Maryland Treasury

*In Maryland's first State of the Treasury speech in recent history, state Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) was not cheery. He said recent changes to the state's tax laws could negatively affect an already dire financial outlook coming from factors including the mortgage crisis, instability in financial markets and declining retail sales. See story

*An agreement was finalized for Live Nation of Los Angeles to open a Fillmore venue in Silver Spring. See story

*Freddie Mac was sued by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, which alleged that the McLean mortgage-finance company issued false and misleading statements to investors about risks related to subprime housing loans. The pension fund asked a judge to award unspecified damages to shareholders who lost money when Freddie Mac's share price fell 29 percent on Nov. 20.
The lawsuit is similar to one filed Nov. 21.

*XO Holdings of Reston and billionaire Carl C. Icahn agreed to settle a lawsuit over the company's failed $700 million sale of its Web-access business to Icahn's Elk Associates. R2 Investments accused Icahn in 2005 of using his majority stake in XO Holdings to force the sale, which would have allowed the company to repay outstanding debt to another Icahn-related entity.

*First NLC Financial Services, a mortgage-lending subsidiary of Arlington's Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group, sought bankruptcy protection. The Boca Raton, Fla., unit listed debt of $50 million to $100 million and assets of $10 million to $50 million. FBR said Jan. 11 that it would put the unit into bankruptcy.

*Analyst David Loeb of Robert W. Baird & Co. said investors would find value in shares of Interstate Hotels & Resorts of Arlington. Baird cited the firm's expanded ownership portfolio and solid management abilities. He rated it "outperform," with a $5 price target. Shares rose 1.7 percent, to $3.54.

*Fannie Mae said it will proceed with a planned 30-percent dividend cut in the current quarter, lowering the payment to 35 cents a share from 50 cents a share.

By Terri Rupar  |  January 19, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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