Archive for Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Briefcase

December 28, 2004

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Subscriber totals rise for satellite radio

Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. and XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., the two big players in the emerging satellite radio business, both announced gains in subscribers Monday as 2004 drew to a close.

Washington, D.C.-based XM, the larger of the two, said it recently had surpassed 3.1 million subscribers, after having started the year with 1.3 million.

New York-based Sirius said it had passed the 1 million mark, crediting holiday sales of its radios and pay services. The company started the year with about 260,000 subscribers.

Sirius shares rose 15 cents, or nearly 2 percent, to close Monday at $8.10 on Nasdaq. XM shares dropped 19 cents to close at $39.73.

Takeover bid

Sallie Mae spurned

The board of Pennsylvania's state-run student loan program Monday emphatically rejected an unsolicited $1 billion takeover bid by industry giant Sallie Mae.

Directors of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency also adopted a resolution vowing that the 41-year-old agency never would be sold to a for-profit corporation.

SLM Corp., the official name of Reston, Va.-based Sallie Mae, had offered last week to pay the state $500 million up front and $100 million a year for five years to buy PHEAA. Sallie Mae formerly had an operations center in Lawrence.

Travel

Computers trouble airlines, travelers

The cancellation of 1,100 Christmas Day flights by Comair because of computer troubles is prompting calls for more investments in backup systems and other technologies to prevent further groundings and damage to an already struggling industry.

The foul-up wasn't the first: A computer glitch grounded 40 Delta flights in May; in July, a power failure created a computer problem that forced Northwest to cancel more than 120 flights.

Experts say computer glitches like the one that affected Comair likely would cost millions of dollars in lost revenues.

Transportation

Kansas firm opens Montana rail line

A Kansas company is launching a new rail line today in Montana.

The Mission Mountain Railroad, a subsidiary of Pittsburg-based Watco Cos. Inc., said that its 40 miles of track would be open for business this morning.

The line will serve 12 customers at 15 locations, and is be expected to move more than 9,000 rail cars -- primarily for forest products and grain -- in the coming year, the company said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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