U Maurice Jones, vice president and general manager of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot and former commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services, was named publisher of the newspaper. When Mr. Jones begins the job April 14, the newspaper will become the largest daily in the United States with a black publisher, according to the Newspaper Association of America.
U Shares of USEC Inc. of Bethesda, the lone U.S. producer of enriched uranium to fuel nuclear power plants, jumped 28 percent to $5.26 after competitor Urenco Ltd. reported rising profit because of growing demand for nuclear energy. Urenco, owned by Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, said net income increased 14 percent last year as Russia, India and China added atomic reactors.
U The Bank of France said that the younger brother of International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn took a post with the U.S.Federal Reserve. Marc-Olivier Strauss-Kahn will be the Bank of France’s representative in the United States and will have the position of “visiting senior adviser” to the Fed.
U The Bear Stearns Cos. assets pledged as collateral for the Federal Reserve’s $29 billion loan to save the firm from bankruptcy include debt from commercial mortgage-backed securities to home loans, the central bank said. None of the bonds are rated lower than BBB-minus by any of the three largest credit-rating companies, the New York Fed said.
U Rates on 15-year and 30-year mortgages rose this week, delivering another dose of unwelcome news to the troubled housing industry. Freddie Mac said 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.88 percent for the week ending yesterday, up from last week’s 5.85 percent and the highest since mid-March, when 30-year rates stood.
U Suspected mortgage fraud by borrowers, brokers and other participants soared 44 percent in the year before the U.S. housing market collapsed, outpacing all other types of dishonest financial activity reported by financial institutions, the Treasury Department said. Cash-out refinancings, home-equity lines and stated-income or low-documentation loans helped lead the increase.
U Thornburg Mortgage Inc., which averted bankruptcy this week, expects to rebound as a leading lender to borrowers of high-priced homes because of backing from its new investors. “The opportunity to get a jumbo mortgage loan is fairly limited,” Chief Executive Officer Larry Goldstone said, referring to loans of more than $417,000. “There is minimal to no competition.”
U Shares of National City Corp., Ohio’s largest lender, gained 6.2 percent to $9.79 after reports that it is talking about a possible merger with two other large Ohio banks. Fifth Third Bancorp, Ohio’s second-largest bank, and KeyCorp, the third-largest, are discussing a transaction with National City, the Wall Street Journal reported.
U Lehman Brothers, seeking to get high-risk, high-yield loans off its books, created a $2.8 billion collateralized loan obligation (CLO). Freedom CLO contains 66 loans, including debt the fourth-largest U.S. securities firm underwrote for buyouts. New York-based Lehman will hold a piece of the $565 million subordinated note, the riskiest portion.
U Northwest Airlines Corp. again raised prices on international flights and said it will freeze pilot hiring because of high fuel prices. The surcharge on flights from Japan to North America will rise by $20 to $160 beginning May 1.
U MetroPCS Communications of Dallas and Leap Wireless International of San Diego, two providers of cheap, no-contract service, may become the Wal-Mart of their industry. With recession in sight, consumers who can’t win credit approval at major carriers are opting for plans that cost as little as $30 a month for unlimited calling. The companies forecast subscriber growth of more than 20 percent.
U Liberty Media Corp. of Englewood, Colo., said it purchased 78.3 million shares of DirecTV to increase its stake in the No. 1 satellite television provider to 48 percent. Liberty Media, controlled by media entrepreneur John Malone, financed the private transaction by borrowing $1.98 billion against 110 million shares of DirecTV Group Inc.
U Apple Inc. filed a federal challenge to New York’s trademark application for a new “Big Apple” logo, saying it’s too similar to the stylized emblem found on iPhones, iPods and iMac computers. Apple said the symbol for New York’s “GreeNYC” initiative promoting energy efficiency and recycling is confusingly similar to the logo used by the electronics maker since 1977.
U Apple Inc. said a new consumer study shows its iTunes online music store vaulted past Wal-Mart in February to become the top overall music retailer in the United States. Apple said that consumer surveys conducted by market research firm NPD Group show iTunes’ music sales surpassed those of the discount retailer in January and February.
U Tobacco companies have won a legal round over smokers who claim they were misled about the health effects of light cigarettes. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, N.Y., overturned class-action status for a lawsuit seeking at least $200 billion on behalf of tens of millions of smokers.
U Toyota Motor Corp. denied it received any funding from the Japanese government to develop its hit Prius gas-electric hybrid car. Japan’s top automaker rejected a report that quoted Jim Press, president of Chrysler and a former Toyota executive, as saying, “The Japanese government paid for 100 percent of the development of the battery and hybrid system.”
U Alitalia edged closer to bankruptcy protection, though it would continue flying, after Air France-KLM abruptly broke off talks to buy the struggling national airline and Alitalia’s chairman of seven months resigned in frustration. The board convened an emergency meeting as 300 Alitalia workers gathered outside chanting “We want Air France” and demanding the return of Chairman Maurizio Prato.
U Venezuela moved to take a greater cut from high oil prices when the legislature gave initial approval to a bill setting taxes as high as 60 percent on profits from increases in crude prices. “Sudden profits” made by foreign oil companies would be taxed at 50 percent when the average monthly price for benchmark Brent crude exceeds $70 a barrel.
U Total SA Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie was paid about $4.2 million last year, a fraction of that earned by his U.S. counterparts, according to the global oil major.
U British hedge fund Pentagon Capital Management and Chief Executive Lewis Chester were sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regulators for reputedly arranging abusive mutual fund trades that made $62 million.
From wire dispatches and staff reports