Sallie Mae Says Flowers Calls Off Deal; Cuts Forecast

Sallie Maeshares fell sharply Wednesday after the company revealed that a group led by J.C. Flowers has formally dropped its offer to buy the student lender.

News of the failed transaction comes as Sallie Mae lowers its estimates for 2008 core earnings to range of $2.60 to $2.80 a share. The reduction in its forecast were largely due to costs it incurred to replace its interim funding facility.

Previously, Sallie Mae expected to earn $3.25 a share next year.

For the fourth quarter, Sallie Mae expects earnings to be in the range of 52 cents to 57 cents a share, excluding non-recurring items such as merger-related costs.

According to Sallie Mae, the company held a series of discussions with Flowers group aimed at forging another deal.

Sallie Mae said it considered an alternative transaction with the Flowers group and offered to allow them an opportunity to update their due diligence and make a new proposal to acquire the company, but the buyer's group said it didn't wish to pursue these opportunities.

Sallie Mae's board plans to challenge this decision in court.

Sallie Mae has filed a lawsuit seeking a breakup fee of $900 million from the consortium of private equity firms J.C. Flowers and Friedman Fleischer and Lowe and major banks JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America.