Early Briefing: A New Way To Make A Deal
On Mondays we turn the Business section over to news about local executives and companies:
* What kind of deal brings Jack Kemp, Mario Cuomo, legendary baseball slugger Henry Aaron, former Washington Nationals president Tony Tavares and a New York City taxi cab king together?
A $215 million "blank check" company called Sports Properties Acquisition Corp., which they formed last month to buy sports teams, stadiums and other entertainment companies.
Also known as special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, blank check firms raise money by selling stock to the public and then scouring the world for businesses to buy. Staff writer Tom Heath reports they are the current rage among deal-makers, but have drawn some skepticism from critics who say investors don't know what they are buying when the SPAC goes public.
* Despite its recent operational troubles, Fannie Mae has collected kudos for maintaining a workforce that is exceptionally diverse, and it has the numbers to prove it. But inside the company, some have expressed concern about retention and promotion efforts. This week, Fannie Mae CEO Daniel H. Mudd recounted the convergence of factors that likely contributed to employees' distress - an
accounting scandal, regulatory action, turmoil in the economy and housing markets - and expressed frustration that the firm's vaunted diversity efforts faltered. He said the company now plans to redouble its efforts.
* It's been a heckuva few weeks for Bill Wright, concertmaster violinist in high school turned biblical studies major turned chief executive of a lawn mower company.
President Bush hustled over to Frederick last month for a half-hour visit to Wright Manufacturing, where he talked about the need for an economic stimulus package while standing atop one of Wright's stand-on mowers, whose origins date back to a brainstorming meeting in 1993 at Wendy's. Staff writer Michael Rosenwald profiles Wright and his tale of old-fashioned American entrepreneurship.
* There's some soul-searching going on in the Washington technology community about whether it will be able to regain some of its luster now that AOL--and Sprint-- have decided to move their headquarters elsewhere.
Staff writer Zach Goldfarb explores the rise and fall of AOL here and what that arc says about the future of the local tech industry.
* A Dunn Loring company called Priva Technologies has won federal approval to provide services for a program that lets airline passengers speed through security lines for an extra fee. See story.
* A growing number of Americans are buckling under the weight of debt as the troubles that started among homeowners with subprime mortgages spread to those who hold car loans and credit cards. See story.
February 18, 2008; 7:22 AM ET
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