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The Baltimore Sun

1st Mariner parent's loss in 4Q widens to $9 million

Baltimore-based First Mariner Bancorp, parent company of 1st Mariner Bank, reported yesterday a fourth-quarter loss of $9.06 million, or $1.40 per share, as it continued to be hammered by the weak mortgage industry. The year before, the company had a fourth-quarter loss of $2.7 million, or 43 cents per share. The bank had $8.5 million in bad-loan write-downs, foreclosure costs and loan charge-offs in the quarter. The company said in a regulatory filing this month that 1st Mariner Bank posted a fourth-quarter loss of $14.9 million as it continued to struggle with soured real estate loans but was able to maintain its capital levels with infusions from its holding company. The bank received $16.1 million from the holding company to offset the losses, leaving it with core capital of about 7 percent of its assets. For the year, the company said it lost $15.1 million compared with a loss of $10.1 million in 2007. Shares fell 15 cents to close at 82 cents yesterday.

Andrea K. Walker

15 advisers switch from Smith Barney to Baird

Milwaukee-based financial services firm Baird said yesterday that it has hired 15 financial advisers from the Towson Smith Barney office. Baird, which announced in August that it would expand in this region, said it opened a wealth management office in Towson yesterday. The firm, which also is expanding in Philadelphia, hired former Smith Barney and Legg Mason adviser James E. Furletti to open the Towson office, which has 22 people. In February, Morgan Stanley bought control of Smith Barney, which had been a brokerage unit of Citigroup Inc. Smith Barney has nine offices and more than 250 advisers in the Baltimore area, a Smith Barney spokeswoman said. She could not comment on the Towson departures but said Smith Barney remains committed to the area.

Lorraine Mirabella

Regulators close banks in Neb., Fla., Ore., Ill.

WASHINGTON : Regulators closed banks based in Nebraska, Florida, Illinois and Oregon yesterday, marking 13 failures this year of federally insured institutions. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was appointed receiver of the banks. Sherman County Bank, located in Loup City, Neb., had $129.8 million in assets and $85.1 million in deposits as of Feb. 12. Cape Coral, Fla.-based Riverside Bank of the Gulf Coast had assets of $539 million and deposits of $424 million as of Dec. 31. Corn Belt Bank and Trust Co. of Pittsfield, Ill., had total assets of $271.8 million and deposits of $234.4 million as of Dec. 31. Pinnacle Bank of Beaverton, Ore. had total assets of $73 million and deposits of $64 million as of Dec. 31.

Associated Press

Circuit City gets OK to sell or break remaining leases

RICHMOND, VA: . Circuit City Stores Inc. received approval yesterday to auction leases or break them for its remaining properties, including 567 U.S. stores, its corporate headquarters and various distribution centers. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Huennekens gave Circuit City permission to begin the auction process. The Richmond-based company announced last month that it would liquidate its stores and cut more than 34,000 jobs after it failed to find a buyer for what was the nation's second-largest consumer electronics retailer. The company also received permission to sell defective or damaged merchandise through online auctions or to seek an agreement with another company to sell the merchandise. The judge approved the sale of the company's aircraft: a 2001 Learjet 45, for $4.35 million, and a 1996 Hawker 800XP, for $4.5 million.

Associated Press

Sirius says it might file for bankruptcy if debt talks fail

Financially strapped Sirius XM Radio Inc. said yesterday that it could file for bankruptcy as early as Tuesday if it cannot successfully negotiate with holders of its debt. While the satellite radio company said it has exchanged $172.5 million of debt that was maturing in December for new debt due in 2011, it still has about $175 million coming due tomorrow. Sirius is fighting attempts for control by Charlie Ergen, chief executive of Dish Network Corp. and sister company EchoStar Corp. Ergen bought much of a $300 million batch of discounted Sirius bonds that come due next week. Sirius had rejected an offer by Ergen for control of the company. A bankruptcy filing for Sirius would give it the right to terminate contracts with on-air talent, such as Howard Stern, who has a five-year, $500 million deal. Sirius has nearly 20 million listeners. Liberty Media Corp. is in talks with Sirius about investing in the company, a move that could fend off Ergen, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Associated Press

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