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In brief: SEC official leaves for new job

An official with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission who oversaw the massive investigation of Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co. is resigning her post to work in the private sector.

Helane L. Morrison will leave the commission at the end of October. She was regional director in San Francisco in charge of enforcement and examination programs for Northern California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

In 2003, SEC examiners began reviewing Metropolitan’s financial records. The examination turned into a multimillion-dollar investigation culminating in a 2005 civil action against several former executives, including owner C. Paul Sandifur Jr., and David Syre, owner of Bellingham-based Trillium Corp.

The executives have reached settlement agreements that are awaiting formal approval.

Morrison has headed the San Francisco office since 1999 and will become general counsel, chief compliance officer and a principal at Hall Capital Partners LLC, an advisory firm.


Market to accept bids Tuesday

The Philadelphia Stock Exchange, one of the nation’s largest options markets, will accept bids Tuesday from potential buyers.

Interested parties include NYSE Euronext, parent of the New York Stock Exchange; Nasdaq Stock Market Inc.; and a group of brokerage and trading firms led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Susquehanna International Group, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources.

The exchange is worth about $600 million, the newspaper reported.

A sale could be announced over the next few weeks. Some of the exchange’s shareholders, including Merrill Lynch and Co., Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc., are said to prefer a cash bid.


Auto groups seek separate standard

The auto industry and its allies on Capitol Hill are lobbying congressional leaders and the Bush administration to back fuel efficiency increases that would maintain separate standards for passenger cars and trucks.

The industry opposes a plan approved in the Senate last June that would increase fuel economy standards on new vehicles to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. In 2008, cars must average 27.5 mpg and trucks need to reach 22.5 mpg.

Auto executives have been making their case to the Bush administration about the energy bill and a regulatory plan on vehicle emissions being developed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department.

The industry, along with agriculture and recreational groups, back an alternative led by Reps. Baron Hill, D-Ind., and Lee Terry, R-Neb., that would seek a combined standard of 32 to 35 mpg by 2022 along with separate standards for cars and trucks.