- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 30, 2008


√ Baltimore-based mutual fund giant T. Rowe Price’s fourth-quarter earnings rose 28 percent, beating estimates, as retirement funds fueled total deposits of $9.1 billion, more than all publicly traded mutual-fund firms except BlackRock Inc. Net income climbed to $190.7 million (68 cents) from $148.9 million (53 cents).

√ Wireless Internet provider Clearwire Corp. and Reston-based cellular operator Sprint Nextel Corp. reportedly restarted talks to combine their WiMax networks. The companies are discussing a joint venture that would attract funding from Intel Corp., the Wall Street Journal reported.

√ District-based Fannie Mae would avoid taking on excessive risk under a government plan allowing it to buy home loans as high as $729,500, up from the current limit of $417,000, Chief Executive Officer Daniel Mudd said. The plan would add more liquidity to the market for so-called jumbo loans, Mr. Mudd said.

Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, the world’s largest defense company, said it adopted a provision that allows it to recoup compensation paid to executives who commit fraud. The “clawback” provision was adopted Jan. 24, Lockheed Martin said.


√ Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said that the economy will likely go into recession this year and that an “inadequate” response by policy-makers could drag it out. Mr. Summers praised a proposed $150 billion economic stimulus plan, but said it should include an increase in federal unemployment benefits.

√ A bankruptcy judge has signed off on toy train maker Lionel LLC’s bid to pay CEO Jerry Calabrese, who has shepherded the model train maker through bankruptcy for over three years, a base salary of $1 million a year. The judge approved the deal for Mr. Calabrese and a new $465,000-a-year pact for Executive Vice President Mark Erickson.

Bank of America Corp. is moving forward with its purchase of Countrywide Financial Corp., Chief Executive Officer Ken Lewis said. “At this point, everything is a go to complete this transaction,” Mr. Lewis said.

Countrywide KB Home Loans illegally inflated home appraisals and falsified incomes to put unqualified borrowers into homes they couldn’t afford, a former loan officer claimed in a lawsuit. Mark Zachary, a former regional vice president of a Countrywide Financial and KB Homes joint venture, claims he was fired for rejecting unqualified borrowers and reporting illegal lending practices.

Washington Mutual Inc. said that higher-than-expected net interest income in 2008, as a result of Federal Reserve rate cuts, along with its exit from subprime loans, a renewed focus on bank-branch customers, will help carry the thrift through what promises to be a difficult year.

Allstate reported a 37 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit on higher catastrophe losses and increased costs. Net income for the last three months of the year was $760 million ($1.36), compared with $1.21 billion ($1.93) a year earlier.

√ Shares of IAC/InterActiveCorp, owner of the HSN home shopping network and Ticketmaster, rose 48 cents, or 2 percent, to $25.65 on speculation billionaire John Malone will fail to wrest control of the company from Chairman Barry Diller. Mr. Malone’s Liberty Media Corp., which holds 62 percent of IAC’s voting power, Monday asked a court to let it oust Mr. Diller and six directors from IAC’s board.

√ The rise of so-called sovereign wealth funds should dissuade Congress from taxing private equity buyout firms, the head of a trade group for the firms said. The taxes would put the buyout firms at an unfair disadvantage, said Douglas Lowenstein, chief executive of the District-based Private Equity Council.

√ Bond insurers led by MBIA Inc. and Ambac Financial Group Inc. may lose their top AAA ratings before they benefit from any rescue plan. Efforts by New York state insurance officials for a $15 billion fund to bolster insurers’ capital are likely to be overtaken by events, research firm CreditSights Inc. said.

√ The North Slope of Alaska may have as many as 36 billion barrels of oil and 137 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to a study by the U.S. Energy Department.

Microsoft Corp. will become the new provider of paid search and contextual advertising links on sites run by the Wall Street Journal, the companies said. Contextual ads appear as text links at the bottom of stories viewed on the Journal’s Web site, WSJ.com, inside a box labeled “Advertisers Links.”

EBay is rejiggering its fees — raising some, trimming others — to meet rising competition and maintain its share of the online auction market it helped start a decade ago. But some say the changes are a step in the wrong direction. “It’s too little too late,” said Steve Grossberg, one of EBay’s top 100 sellers and the founder of the Internet Merchants Association.

√ Online search engine operator Yahoo said that its fourth-quarter profit declined 23 percent as higher operating expenses overshadowed an increase in revenue. For the quarter that ended Dec. 31, Yahoo earned $205.7 million (15 cents), compared with $268.7 million (19 cents) a year ago.


√ The British government issued its biggest challenge yet to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, ordering pay-TV operator British Sky Broadcasting to cut its stake in independent broadcaster ITV. The government order, which follows a ruling by Britain’s antitrust regulator that the stake is anticompetitive, could cost Mr. Murdoch’s flagship TV company hundreds of millions.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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