Thornburg works to avert bankruptcy

Thornburg Mortgage has changed its bylaws to raise the ceiling for individual investments to $300 million, as it works to sell $1 billion in convertible debt to avoid bankruptcy. The lender specializes in “jumbo” adjustable-rate mortgages, worth at least $417,000. It missed $600 million in margin calls earlier this month. (Reuters) The $1 billion in capital is a requirement by Thornburg’s creditors to hold off on selling its collateral, but not everyone is sure Thornburg can raise the money. “Given what’s going on in the financial sector, given what Bear Stearns was sold for, if I were an investor I wouldn’t be interested at this point,” said RBC Capital Market analyst Jason Arnold. (

U.S. clears Sirius-XM merger

The Justice Department approved the $5 billion merger of satellite radio broadcasters Sirius and XM, 13 months after the deal was announced. The department’s antitrust officials decided that the merger would not constitute a monopoly because satellite radio is part of the broader audio-entertainment industry. ( Terrestrial radio broadcasters and other opponents say the merger will raise prices and reduce the variety of programming. The deal still requires FCC approval. But the FCC has never rejected a merger cleared by the Justice Department, said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Blair Levin, and “we don’t believe this one is likely to be the first.” (USA Today)

Chinese banks profit, despite subprime writedown

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s largest bank by market value, reported a 65 percent rise in profits for 2007, to $11.6 billion. (AP in Houston Chronicle) Bank of China, the country’s top foreign exchange lender, reported a 31 percent rise in profit for the same period, to $7.98 billion, dragged down by $1.3 billion in writedowns tied to U.S. subprime-related securities. It held almost $5 billion of such assets at the end of 2007. (Reuters) The average annual profit growth for China’s banks was 70 percent. But Chinese regulators have been tightening lending guidelines, and “they will continue to turn the screw,” said Nicholas Yeo at Aberdeen Asset Management. (Bloomberg)

Moving beyond the traffic helicopter

Dash Navigation is rolling out two-way GPS systems for cars this week, a technology it hopes will revolutionize traffic information sharing. If it works as planned, drivers who buy the $599 device will be able to learn about traffic ahead from drivers with the same system, via a central computer that records speed and location data. Similar state programs that gleaned information from cellphones stirred privacy concerns, but Dash assures drivers that its data gathered will be anonymous. “If the FBI comes in tomorrow and says, ‘Where were you at 3 p.m. yesterday?’ the honest answer will be, ‘We don’t know,’” says Dash marketing chief Robert Acker. (The Washington Post, free registration)