- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2008


Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann might sue Fannie Mae, charging that the largest U.S. mortgage finance company failed to inform shareholders about the extent of its holdings in mortgages held by borrowers with poor credit, a state official said. Mr. Dann sued Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae’s smaller rival, last month for reputedly “bilking investors.”

Radio One Inc., the D.C. owner of stations serving predominantly black audiences, named Peter D. Thompson chief financial officer, replacing Scott Royster. Mr. Thompson joined Radio One last year as executive vice president of business development.

Advertising on Internet music radio stations almost tripled last year as listening grew 26 percent, according to a report by AccuStream IMedia Research. Ad sales increased 194 percent to $80 million in 2007, AccuStream said. Shoutcast, a unit of Sterling, Va.-based AOL, had the biggest market share of listening hours, with 48 percent.

Baltimore health information technology company Visicu Inc. said it was acquired for $427 million by Philips Holding USA, a subsidiary of Dutch industrial conglomerate Philips Electronics NV, under a deal announced in December.

Sparks, Md., spice giant McCormick & Co. said that it has purchased the shares of Billy Bee Honey Products Ltd. for $75 million in cash. Billy Bee is Canada’s leading honey brand with annual sales of about $37 million.


GMAC plans to combine 20 U.S. and Canadian offices into five regional centers and cut about 930 jobs in its auto finance business to cut expenses in the wake of tightening credit markets and heavy losses last year. The job cuts will occur by the end of the year and represent about 15 percent of the work force in the auto loan business unit.

A prestigious Fifth Avenue skyscraper is up for sale and could fetch $3 billion or more, which would be a record price for a U.S. office building. The General Motors building, a 50-story tower built in 1968 at the southeast corner of Central Park across from the Plaza Hotel, occupies a full city block and is best known as the home of the FAO Schwarz toy emporium and Apple’s glass cube store.

Federal regulators accused a Chicago hedge fund of misappropriating more than $11 million from hundreds of people who invested at least $300 million with it to trade commodity futures contracts. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s new fraud charges broaden its existing lawsuit against Lake Shore Asset Management Ltd. The original suit was filed in June.

The founder of the Lancer Group hedge funds and four other persons were charged with defrauding investors out of more than $200 million by manipulating market prices and overvaluing securities, according to a federal indictment. The grand jury indictment charges former fund manager Michael Lauer and the others with conspiracy and six counts of wire fraud.

News Corp. has approached the four major record labels to discuss introducing an online music service through its popular MySpace social networking site, music company sources said. The media conglomerate envisions a one-stop music service that offers content in various ways, including via free digital streams, as MP3 downloads and through subscriptions.

Yahoo, owner of the most-visited U.S. Web site, adopted severance plans for employees that would pay as much as two years of salary to fend off a $44.6 billion bid from Microsoft Corp. Yahoo’s board, after rejecting Microsoft’s offer last week, may be taking steps to make a purchase by the world’s largest software maker more expensive.

Microsoft said it will make Xbox 360 video games developed by players available for download through the console’s online service. The new service will double the size of the Xbox 360 game library to 1,000 games within a year of its launch, scheduled for this holiday season.

Bill Gross, manager of the world’s biggest bond fund, said the U.S. federal budget deficit will widen to as much as $800 billion during the next presidential administration. The deficit will expand to as much as 5 percent of gross domestic product as spending is increased to stabilize the economy, Mr. Gross said.

Wells Fargo & Co. said it will increase acquisitions this year, and the targets are likely to be larger than the banks bought recently. Wells Fargo may acquire about 15 companies in the coming year because prices have declined to reasonable levels. The bank also expects real estate prices to fall another 10 percent before bottoming out.

Off-price retailer TJX Cos. said improvements in inventory, cost controls and marketing boosted its fourth-quarter profit by almost 47 percent to $301.1 million (66 cents) from $205.4 million (43 cents) a year ago, when earnings were reduced $38 million by a one-time charge. Full-year profit rose 5 percent.

A federal judge tentatively approved a $38.25 million settlement of a lawsuit filed by investors in the auto parts maker Delphi Corp. against the Deloitte & Touche accounting firm. The firm, which was Delphi’s outside accountant, agreed in December to make the payment as part of a $325 million settlement of investor claims of misconduct by Delphi.

The number of “inattentive” security guards found at U.S. nuclear power plants more than doubled last year, documents from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission show. The commission found 12 incidents of security officers who were asleep or distracted while on duty at a nuclear reactor in 2007. That’s up from five or fewer incidents reported in the previous three years.


Investigators of a $7 billion fraud at French bank Societe Generale say that the only trader implicated in the scandal acted alone. Investigators also said they found no evidence that there were any personal monetary gains made through the reputedly unauthorized positions taken by futures trader Jerome Kerviel.

The European Commission asked employers and trade unions to start negotiating stronger rules that require companies to consult workers before shutting a factory. Last month, cell phone maker Nokia Corp. outraged Germans by ignoring an obligation to talk to workers before saying it would close a plant and shift production to Romania.

Canada will begin a first round of free trade talks with Jordan in April, hoping to eventually sign Canada’s first free trade pact with an Arab country, officials said. Total bilateral trade between Canada and Jordan amounted to a mere $76 million last year.

Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate has soared to more than 100,000 percent, weeks ahead of elections in the southern African country, according to official figures.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

Inflation for food and nonalcoholic beverages reached 105,428 percent while nonfood inflation was 97,885 percent, the Central Statistical Office said.

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