Early Briefing: Costs Could Rise For Lockheed Jet

*It was already the most expensive weapons program ever: Now Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter could cost up to $38 billion more, the Government Accountability Office says. That would bring the cost of the 2,458 F-35s to $337 billion, 45 percent more than originally estimated in October 2001. See story

In other Lockheed-related news, the Coast Guard put off until late April or early May acceptance of the first 418-foot, 4,300-ton National Security Cutters that the Bethesda contractor and Northrop Grumman are building. The delay is due to problems with ship systems, including those dealing with safety, launch and recovery applications, and communications, identified in recent testing. See story

*In the latest round of Maryland's state-chartered banks v. Orioles owner Peter Angelos, the winner is the banks. A bill that would save the banks from paying hundreds of millions of dollars in potential damages to homeowners got preliminary approval from the state senate. The issue involves penalties imposed by the banks on borrowers who pay off home equity loans or lines of credit on their mortgages early. See story

*Authorities with Guinness World Records have officially certified a world-record crab cake that was developed with the help of Salisbury food processor Handy International Inc. The 235-pound cake was cooked in a three-foot rotisserie-style pan in October 2006 during the Diamond State BBQ Championship in Dover, Del.

*The Reliable Source reports that Gary Forsee, the former chief executive of Sprint Nextel, formerly of Reston, lowered the price his Georgetown rowhouse to $2.9 million from $3.45 million.

*Chemical company W.R. Grace agreed to pay $250 million as reimbursement for government expenses in the investigation and cleanup of asbestos contamination in Libby, Mont. The Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency said the sum is the highest in the history of the federal Superfund environmental cleanup program.

Separately, Columbia-based Grace won bankruptcy court approval to make $17.8 million in contributions to the defined-benefit pension plans that cover its U.S. workers. Grace has said that the payments will keep it in compliance with minimum federal pension funding standards.

*Capital One, the McLean credit card issuer, awarded chairman and chief executive Richard D. Fairbank a pay package it said was worth $17 million last year, almost entirely stock options. That compares with a package worth $18 million in 2006, the company said. Fairbank last year exercised stock options at a gain of $54.8 million, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

*Fursa Alternative Strategies said it sold its entire stake in satellite systems maker Integral Systems back to the company for $23.4 million. According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Fursa entered into a stock purchase agreement with the company on Feb. 29, whereby it sold all of its shares to the company for $22 apiece. In October, Fursa reported owning about 1.1 million shares, or an 11.4 percent stake in the Lanham company. See press release.

*Regional cable operator RCN said it expects annual revenue to climb 5 to 6 percent as its November acquisition of Neon Communications Group increases cash flow. Revenue for 2008 will be from $730 million to $740 million, compared with last year's revenue of $696 million, Herndon-based RCN said in a release. The company did not issue a per-share outlook.

*The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight said that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were adequately capitalized at the end of 2007. In a statement on fourth-quarter capital results, OFHEO said in a report that Fannie Mae had a 9.3 percent surplus above the regulator's requirement. Freddie Mac's surplus was 10 percent above OFHEO's requirement. The percentages reflect increases over third-quarter capital results due to the issuance of preferred stock to offset market and credit-related losses.

*Former Mercantile Bankshares executive Michael Donnell , who helped create hedge fund products for the Baltimore company's clients, was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine for failing to disclose referral fees to his mother, U.S. regulators said. His mother eventually received $78,000 in payments, it said.

*A unit of Constellation Energy Group was fined $6.9 million to settle charges that it broke rules governing pipeline shipments of natural gas. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that Baltimore-based Constellation reported the violations to the agency in April 2007 and that Constellation's natural gas division did not have not have legal ownership of gas it shipped, a FERC requirement. The government said it found "thousands" of violations on 13 natural gas pipelines from 2005 to mid-2007.

By Terri Rupar  |  March 12, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Lockheed
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