I was supposed to be on a plane right now to Denver, and then drive to Avon, Colorado, to "stake out" the Countrywide junket for lenders at the Ritz Carlton (see post from colleague Diana Olick). But after the Wall Street Journal reported the details on the luxurious ski trip for 30 smaller lenders--Countrywide decided to nix the annual funfest.
Countrywide needs these smaller lenders to keep sending business its way, but given the layoffs and foreclosures its been forced to make, well, putting up dozens of folks in a hotel where the cheapest rooms are $750 didn't look good. Not good at all. The company wouldn't respond to our requests for comment about the trip, and the Ritz "could neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence" of the event. When we called Bank of America to see if it was aware of the outing, we were only told that the two remain separate companies.
One insider at the Countrywide told me that the company "was being very quiet about this one," but I started hearing Saturday that the trip was off. When we called the Spago restaurant where the group was supposed to chow down tonight after cocktails and ski fittings, we were told there was no reservation for them.
Most will certainly cheer this decision to cancel the junket. The down side, CNBC was going to pay for me to stay at the Ritz.
THE MOTHER OF ALL DEFENSE CONTRACTS IS LANDING THIS WEEK
We should find out this week--possibly even today--whether Boeing or Northrop Grumman/EADS wins the massive, long-delayed, much-debated $40 billion air refueling tanker contract for the Air Force. This was a contract that was supposed to be decided last October, and it could eventually be worth $100 billion if the military buys a full supply of tankers. The current fleet is literally falling apart. Some tankers are a half century old, and the Air Force has called this contract its number one priority.
The Defense Acquisition Board meets today to go over the deal one last time, and then a decision will be imminent.
One reason for the delay is the concern that the loser will protest the outcome, potentially creating a further delay. There have been recent reports that both sides promised not to protest. A Boeing source tells me, "that is absolutely not true." However, the Air Force may break up the tanker deal into a series of competitions, meaning the loser this time could be the winner down the road. Geez, getting this deal done is tougher than the Paris Peace Talks.