Early Briefing: After XM-Sirius, What's Next?

*Columnist Steven Pearlstein is not happy with the Justice Department's approval of the merger between XM and Sirius. He writes:

For the past several years, these two companies have been competing so hard for talent, distribution channels and customers that neither has been able to turn a profit, and probably wouldn't have for years. Consumers have been the big winners, with great programming at affordable prices.

All that is about to change now that the Bush administration has concluded that we'll all be better off if these heretofore fierce rivals are allowed to stop competing and concentrate instead on reducing costs, paring down their combined offerings and finally delivering profit to their shareholders.

See the rest of his column here.

*AES of Arlington said it's partnering with private-equity firm Riverstone Holdings to invest up to $1 billion in solar energy projects around the world. AES Solar plans to create solar-energy farms by covering fields with rows of photovoltaic panels to convert sunlight into electricity; the first ones will be in Europe and Asia. See story

*The chief executive of Comstock Homebuilding of Reston, which is battling to stay afloat in the stormy housing market, said he might sell the business to bolster shareholder value.

"If the best option is to sell the company, we'll sell the company," Christopher Clemente said in response to a question from an analyst during a conference call with investors. See story.

*Freddie Mac said its mortgage holdings shrank at a 12.4 percent annual rate last month, ahead of regulatory changes meant to boost its role in the slumping mortgage market. The portfolio contracted by $7.4 billion, to $709.5 billion, in February, falling for a second month after a $19 billion jump in December, the McLean company said in a release.

*Host Hotels & Resorts, a Bethesda-based lodging real estate investment trust, plans to form a joint venture with an affiliate of GIC Real Estate Pte to explore Asian and Australian investment opportunities. The two companies will invest up to $600 million in the joint venture, with Host owning about 25 percent. A Host affiliate will earn a fee for providing asset management services. GIC is the real estate investment arm of the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. See press release.

*AT&T named former VeriSign executive John M. Donovan chief technology officer. Donovan quit the board of NII Holdings, the Reston-based provider of wireless services in Latin America, because of the new job, NII said in a regulatory filing.

*MaxJet Airways, the start-up airline that sought bankruptcy protection Dec. 24, has until Aug. 20 to file a Chapter 11 plan. Bankruptcy Judge Peter J. Walsh in Wilmington, Del., granted Dulles-based MaxJet a 120-day extension of its exclusivity period from April 22, according to documents filed Monday.

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