- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Regional

The Circuit Court for Baltimore City dismissed with prejudice all shareholder claims of wrongdoing against technology firm Telos, of Ashburn, Va., and its present and former officials brought by activist hedge fund Costa Brava of Boston, Telos said. The fund, which holds about 16 percent of certain Telos preferred shares, sued in 2005 to force premature payment of dividends, according to Telos.

XM Satellite Radio and Starbucks Corp. ended a 3-year-old marketing pact that included music promotions in the coffee chain’s stores and CDs sold with both companies’ logos. Both companies said the decision to end the pact was mutual, without explaining why. To get out of the deal, XM said it issued about 1.85 million shares worth about $22 million to the Seattle-based coffee retailer.

Fairfax defense contractor QinetiQ North America said its Missions Solutions Group (MSG) won a five-year, $30 million counterintelligence contract with the Department of Defense. MSG was formerly known as Analex, and provides professional services to federal government agencies.

Richmond electronics retailer Circuit City Stores Inc. said same-store sales fell 11.4 percent last month, as strength in the last two weeks of the month was not enough to offset declining sales of tube televisions, camcorders and other devices earlier in the month.

Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda and United Technologies Corp.’s Sikorsky unit revised their bids to build a new combat search-and-rescue helicopter in an Air Force competition that has been twice delayed by losers’ protests.

National

The former chairman and chief executive officer of AIG, the world’s largest insurer, initiated a deal that led to five former executives being charged in a suspected scheme to manipulate the company’s financial statements, a federal prosecutor said during opening arguments at their trial. Four former executives of Berkshire Hathaway’s General Re and a former executive of AIG are charged in the suspected scheme.

Fast-food giant McDonald’s said it is brewing a plan to claim a share of the lucrative espresso coffee market in the United States, currently dominated by Starbucks, the global leader in things latte and cappuccino. “This isn’t just about coffee. It’s a new strategic approach to beverages,” McDonald’s spokesman Walt Riker said.

The federal budget deficit inched up in the first quarter of the fiscal year as the growth in tax revenue slowed along with the softening economy. The budget deficit is $27 billion higher after the first three months of the 2008 budget year that began Oct. 1 than it was after a comparable period for 2007, said the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Revenue grew at a 5.6 percent rate, CBO said, about two percentage points less than a year ago. Spending grew 9 percent.

After an unprecedented year of toy recalls, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is adding staff at the nation’s busiest ports and pledging to work more closely with U.S. Customs to stop suspect imports and identify potential hazards before toys reach the market. Addressing the National Press Club, acting CPSC chief Nancy A. Nord vigorously defended her safety record but said she stood ready to embrace major reform at the embattled agency.

The U.S. economy is heading for a recession that will be the worst “in a while” and investors should sell the dollar as global currencies weaken, investor Jim Rogers said. “It’s going to be one of the worst recessions we’ve had in a while because we had so many excesses going into it,” the chairman of New York-based Rogers Holdings said. The U.S. and British governments have been “lying” about inflation, Mr. Rogers said.

Toyota Motor Corp., seeking to tap U.S. demand for more efficient vehicles, plans to provide gauges that show fuel economy as standard equipment on its cars and trucks. The gauges, already used on its gasoline-electric models, will be added to other new and revamped Toyota, Lexus and Scion autos starting with the redesigned 4Runner sport utility vehicle due in August 2009. Nissan Motor Co. announced similar plans last August.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld was sued for defamation, and his wife, Jessica, for copyright infringement, after she published a best-selling cookbook that aims to improve children’s eating habits. The suit by Missy Chase Lapine, author of “The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals,” claims Mrs. Seinfeld plagiarized her book and that Mr. Seinfeld defamed Ms. Lapine by calling her a “nut job” and “wacko” on national television.

Countrywide Financial Corp., the largest U.S. mortgage lender, asked a federal court to stop a government investigation into whether it made inaccurate claims to recoup losses from bankrupt homeowners. The company is among lenders that have been under scrutiny by U.S. bankruptcy trustees for possibly overstating how much they were owed by debtors, according to court records.

Mortgage lenders cut more than 86,000 jobs in 2007 as demand for home loans and refinancings declined, according to a MortgageDaily.com survey. California suffered the most mortgage job cuts at 15,933, the industry trade publication said, basing its study on company announcements and regulatory filings. Arizona, Florida and New York each lost more than 2,000 industry jobs during the year, MortgageDaily.com said.

Moody’s Corp., the second-biggest credit-rating company, plans to cut about 275 jobs, or 7.5 percent of the work force, and take a pretax charge of as much as $52 million in the fourth quarter of 2007. The charge is a result of a reorganization plan first disclosed in August and the decline in the expected issuance of rated debt securities, New York-based Moody’s said.

The Starbucks chief executive has exited the company and will be replaced by the coffee chain Chairman Howard Schultz, the company said. Mr. Schultz will succeed Jim Donald, and the incoming CEO intends to slow the number of new stores being opened by Starbucks in the United States, as well as shutter some outlets that are struggling to survive.

CNBC and the New York Times said they will share business, technology and financial news and video online. Both news organizations are gearing up for a surge of competition from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which is making a major push into business news with its recent purchase of Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Wall Street Journal, and the start of the Fox Business Network on cable.

International

News Corp., the global media company run by Rupert Murdoch, said it bought almost 15 percent of Premiere AG, Germany’s biggest pay television operator. The New York-based company, whose holdings include Fox News Channel and Star TV, said it paid Cologne-based cable operator Unitymedia $422.5 million in cash for a 14.58 percent stake.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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