Early Briefing: Venture IPOs Come to a Halt

* For the first time in 30 years, zero venture-backed companies made initial public offerings during the second quarter, according to a report to be released today by the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters.

"We will have to allocate our capital more carefully," said Hooks Johnston, general partner of Valhalla Partners in Vienna. "It could force us to cut off funding to weaker companies."

Several of the firm's portfolio companies have delayed their plans to go public by as long as 18 months, he said. "We have to support them longer," Johnston said.

* Fair Oaks Mall has long sat in the shadow of retail behemoth Tysons Corner Center, about eight miles away. But now it is seeking the spotlight.

More than 40 stores in Fair Oaks are new or have been remodeled in the past two years, and 13 more are scheduled to be added this year -- representing more than one-third of the tenants.

Fair Oaks is upgrading in hopes of persuading neighborhood residents to stop by more often as well as becoming a destination for shoppers driving in from the west who are reluctant to tackle traffic all the way to Tysons Corner. Though it acknowledges that center's dominance, Fair Oaks wants to position itself as the alternative.

* The nation's two electronic prescription networks plan to announce today that they are merging in an effort to encourage the adoption of their technology by doctors and patients.

Alexandria-based SureScripts and St. Paul, Minn.-based RxHub are extensions of different parts of the pharmaceutical industry. SureScripts is owned by retail and independent pharmacies; RxHub is owned by three major drug benefit managers, which are also mail-order pharmacies. The companies say they hope the broader use of the technology will cut down on costs and medical mistakes.

For about seven years, the firms have tried to persuade doctors to dump handwritten prescriptions in favor of sending prescriptions electronically to pharmacies and mail-order suppliers. But doctors have been slow to adopt. Only 2 percent of the 1.5 billion annual prescriptions are submitted electronically to pharmacies.

* Fairfax County approved a landmark housing program yesterday to buy foreclosed properties for middle-income families, becoming one of the first communities in the country to tackle the nation's growing mortgage crisis while also addressing the region's increasing demand for affordable housing.

County leaders said the program, through which Fairfax will purchase some properties outright and help families buy others through subsidized loans, takes advantage of a unique moment when thousands of homes are entering foreclosure and available for purchase at below-market prices. The program will expand the county's stock of affordable housing and help stabilize areas where clusters of abandoned, unkempt properties in foreclosure threaten the value and vitality of surrounding neighborhoods, county officials said.

* A merger between the nation's sole satellite radio providers is still awaiting federal approval, but the companies have already begun touting how much money will be saved -- and how much will be made -- once they are combined.

Sirius of New York said yesterday that after its business is merged with XM of the District, the new company will save $400 million in 2009 through lower sales and marketing, and cuts in administrative and other operational costs.

* The D.C. government is targeting violence and underage drinking at nightclubs by suspending more licenses of businesses found to have problems.

This year, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has temporarily suspended the licenses of 94 nightclubs and permanently closed two others. Last year, the board issued 138 suspensions but did not close any clubs.

By Zachary Goldfarb  |  July 1, 2008; 6:56 AM ET
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