- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2008

Regional

DynCorp International of Falls Church is resuming work on a $4.6 billion contract to provide translation services for the Army after a protest was withdrawn by losing bidder L-3 Communications, which was added as a subcontractor. DynCorp and partner McNeil Technologies will employ 7,000 translators in Iraq and up to 1,500 U.S. citizens who are native speakers of languages spoken in Iraq.

SAIC Corp., based in San Diego and McLean, said it won an Environmental Protection Agency contract to provide technology systems engineering and scientific research for the Office of Research and Development. The value of the seven-year contract is more than $139 million if all options are exercised.

General Dynamics Corp., the second-largest maker of business aircraft through its Gulfstream unit, will build the world’s fastest civil jet as it seeks a greater share of sales in Europe, Asia and Latin America. The new $59 million G650 jet will have a top speed near Mach 1 and fly as high 51,000 feet, Gulfstream said.

Bank of America, Wachovia and 35 other financial institutions conspired to rig bids in municipal derivatives, according to lawsuits filed by Fairfax County, Mississippi, Chicago and other bond issuers. Bankers, brokers and dealers engaged in an illegal agreement “to not compete and to rig bids,” the complaints said.

Gannett Co., the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Craig Dubow’s salary and bonus totaled $2.95 million last year, unchanged from 2006. Based on accounting rules, Mr. Dubow’s total compensation was $7.55 million, down 7 percent from $8.15 million a year earlier, McLean-based Gannett said.

National

Chrysler is taking a drastic new step to right itself by requiring all employees worldwide to take a two-week vacation this summer. Chrysler lost $1.6 billion last year and watched its U.S. sales slow down in the first two months of this year.

Median home prices plunged in many of California’s most populous counties in February, with Southern California leading the slide with an overall drop of 17.9 percent compared with a year earlier, according to DataQuick Information Systems. The median price in a six-county area of Southern California fell to $408,000 — the lowest level since October 2004.

Countrywide Financial Corp., the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, reported fewer overdue payments and more foreclosures last month. Late payments declined to 7.44 percent last month from 7.47 percent in January. They rose from 4.48 percent in the year-earlier period. Foreclosures doubled from February 2007.

Shares of AIG, the world’s largest insurer by assets, fell 2.7 percent after Morgan Stanley said losses from credit-default swaps may be triple the company’s worst-case scenario. The investment bank downgraded AIG to “equal-weight” from “overweight” and said if fixed-income markets worsen, losses could lead to a capital shortfall.

Rates on 30-year mortgages increased this week for the fourth time in the past five weeks. Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, reported that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.13 percent this week, up from 6.03 percent last week.

The Federal Reserve Board approved Toronto-Dominion Bank’s acquisition of Commerce Bancorp Inc., the biggest bank based in New Jersey. Toronto-Dominion agreed Oct. 2 to pay $8.5 billion for Cherry Hill-based Commerce in the biggest foreign takeover by a Canadian lender.

Vikram Pandit received $165.2 million last year when Citigroup Inc. bought Old Lane LP, the hedge fund he co-founded and led. Mr. Pandit, who became Citigroup’s chief executive officer in December, reinvested $100.3 million in the fund under terms of the sale agreement, the New York bank said.

The Senate’s top tax writers said they are reviewing how U.S. tax policies apply to sovereign wealth funds after companies including Citigroup and Merrill Lynch sold them equity stakes worth $24 billion. Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, request research on the subject from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.

General Motors Corp., the world’s largest automaker, said it spends $6 million more on transportation for each $1 increase in the price of oil, its purchasing chief said. Changes in oil prices affect $7.2 billion in GM annual spending to transport and store items such as parts and vehicles.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s second-largest automaker, plans to trim production of full-size Tundra pickup trucks as U.S. vehicle sales slow.

Sears Holdings Corp., the retailer being reorganized by hedge-fund investor Edward Lampert, appointed Kevin Holt, a former supermarket executive, to run its stores. Mr. Holt, 49, was promoted to executive vice president of store operations and will report to Acting Chief Executive Officer W. Bruce Johnson.

A potential $20 million problem for the group behind the $100 laptop isn’t going away easily. Ade Oyegbola, an inventor who asserts that the One Laptop Per Child nonprofit stole his designs for a Nigerian keyboard, recently won a round in a Lagos, Nigeria, court. Now Mr. Oyegbola is pressing his case in U.S. federal court.

Harvard University apologized for allowing computer files to be hacked by an “outsider,” potentially exposing personal information of about 10,000 graduate students or applicants. The information that may have been stolen includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and test scores.

International

Citigroup Inc. raised $626 million through the sale of a stake in Brazilian credit-card company Redecard SA to Brazilian and international investors. Citigroup has been selling international assets to raise money after posting the biggest quarterly loss in its history in the fourth quarter.

A Societe Generale employee who worked with Jerome Kerviel, the trader blamed for massive losses at the French bank, was released without charge after questioning, judicial officials said. Investigators are trying to determine whether Mr. Kerviel — accused of unauthorized trades that cost the bank more than $7 billion — had accomplices.

Venezuela is requiring payment in euros for some fuel exports, an industry source said, a sign the OPEC nation may be easing away from the plummeting dollar. Anti-U.S. President Hugo Chavez has repeatedly bashed Washington for allowing the dollar to slump to historic lows and urged OPEC nations to consider switching oil pricing to a basket of currencies.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

OPEC’s daily shipments of crude will decline 0.4 percent in the month to March 29 as demand for fuel slows, according to an Oil Movements forecast. It was the fifth decline reported by the Halifax, England, industry consultant since Dec. 20.

Costa Rica reached an agreement with the United States in a dispute about online gambling, trade officials said. As a result, Costa Rica dropped its request for arbitration at the World Trade Organization. The dispute arose after Washington announced in May that it would withdraw gambling from services it had opened up under a 1994 world trade deal.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will ask Chinese suppliers this year to meet the world’s largest retailer’s environmental standards. Chief Executive Officer H. Lee Scott said Wal-Mart will ask its roughly 1,000 Chinese suppliers to reduce emissions and improve waste disposal, energy efficiency and packaging during a meeting in China.

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