- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Regional

SLM Corp. of Reston, known as Sallie Mae, the biggest U.S. educational lender, said it closed public offerings of common and preferred shares after raising $2.9 billion after costs. Sallie Mae sold 101.8 million common and 1 million preferred shares, according to a statement. Sallie Mae shares rose 49 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $20.14.

Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, the world’s largest defense company, won an order valued at $498.2 million to supply F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. Lockheed will supply 18 F-16 Jets to Pakistan as part of a foreign military sales program coordinated by the Air Force, the Pentagon said.

National

Nasdaq Stock Market Inc., the all-electronic exchange that handles the most shares in the U.S., got clearance from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. for Borse Dubai to take a stake in the company, paving the way for Bourse Dubai’s acquisition of OMX AB.

• U.S. air-travel data collected by NASA showing more safety lapses than previously known, although not yet analyzed, shouldn’t alarm airline passengers, the agency’s administrator said. “It’s hard for me to see any data here that the traveling public would care about or ought to care about,” NASA Administrator Mike Griffin said. The release added to the disagreements surrounding the report, which conflicts with federal statistics showing that air travel is safer than ever.

American Tower sued a former Goldman Sachs manager who runs a competing cell-phone tower company, charging that he impersonated its chief executive to send “negative” e-mails to two of American Tower’s biggest investors. The company said Jide Zeitlin, ex-global chief operating officer of Goldman’s investment banking business, sent a negative article about American Tower’s stock-options practices to the investors.

Travelers Cos., the second-largest U.S. commercial insurer, reached an agreement with attorneys general from states including Florida and Massachusetts to resolve an investigation into fees it paid to brokers. Travelers also reached an agreement to settle a lawsuit by shareholders who said the company should have disclosed the fees.

• Mark Ernst, who was ousted as chief executive and chairman of H&R; Block Inc. in November, resigned from the board Friday. He will receive a cash severance of $2.55 million, the Kansas City, Mo.-based company said in a regulatory filing.

Boeing Co. said it won an order from Jeju Air for five Next-Generation 737-800s with a total value of $370 million at list prices. The 737s will be the first Boeing airplanes to enter the South Korean carrier’s fleet of five regional jets, Boeing said.

• Alaska will receive a payment of $379 million from oil company BP PLC after the two sides settled a tax dispute, Gov. Sarah Palin said. The dispute stems from taxes assessed in 2000 to ‘02, but state law precludes disclosing details of the dispute, the governor’s office said.

Vonage Holdings Inc. and Nortel Networks Corp. have settled their patent litigation, allowing for cross-licensing of the telecom companies’ technology. The agreement does not call for any payments by either company. The settlement involves a limited cross-license to three Nortel and three Vonage patents and dismisses claims relating to past damages and the remaining patents.

International

Dubai has begun construction on the largest canal project in the Middle East for more than a century, joining a list of mega-projects in the Gulf emirate, the official WAM news agency reported. Government-owned real estate developer Limitless this week started excavation work on the $11 billion, 47-mile-long canal, WAM said.

• World foreign-exchange reserves exceeded $6 trillion at the end the third quarter, with the amount held in dollars shrinking slightly, according to data released by the International Monetary Fund. About 75.5 percent of total reserves are in the coffers of governments of developing countries.

Zimbabwe’s central bank chief indefinitely extended a deadline to exchange 200,000-dollar bills just hours before they were to cease being legal tender after scenes of chaos at banks across the country. Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Gov. Gideon Gono declined to set a fresh date for withdrawing the notes and blamed recent heavy rains for hampering efforts to stock up banks with new higher denomination bills.

• The Turkish lira posted its biggest annual gain against the U.S. dollar as the central bank kept interest rates three times higher than in the U.S. and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won elections in July. The lira rose a record 21 percent against the dollar, more than any emerging-market currency.

Cyprus officially joined the eurozone, bidding farewell to the Cyprus pound and expanding the club of countries using the single European currency to 14.

• The first in a series of planned strikes by British airport workers has been called off after negotiators struck a deal over pension rights, a union spokesman said. Workers at seven airports, including London’s Heathrow and Gatwick, had voted to stage three strikes in January.

• Italy’s economics minister promised to discuss the future of Milan’s Malpensa hub with local officials to defuse tensions over the expected downsizing of the airport if loss-making carrier Alitalia is sold to Air France-KLM. Alitalia and the Franco-Dutch group may begin exclusive talks as soon as this week.

• Nineteen miners died in a coal mine blast in a province of northeastern China — the latest casualties in another deadly year in the world’s most dangerous mines, state-run media said. An explosion rocked the Shunfa Coal Mine on Saturday, and the bodies of the 19 miners were recovered after a two-day rescue operation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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