Frontrunning: November 28

  • Egypt protests continue in crisis over Mursi powers (Reuters)
  • Greece hires Deutsche, Morgan Stanley to run Greek voluntary debt buy back, sources say (Kathimerini)
  • Executives' Good Luck in Trading Own Stock (WSJ)
  • Hollande Presents Mittal Nationalization Among Site Options (Bloomberg)
  • Eurozone states face losses on Greek debt (FT)
  • Spain's rescued banks to shrink, slash jobs (Reuters)
  • EU Approves Spanish Banks' Restructuring Plans (WSJ)
  • At SAC, Portfolio Managers Are Treated Like Stocks (BBG)
  • China considers easing family planning rules (Reuters)
  • European Court to Rule Over ECB’s Secret Greek File (BusinessWeek)
  • And another top tick indicator: Asia Funds Buy London Offices in Bet Volatility Is Past (Bloomberg)
  • Harvard Doctor Turns Felon After Lure of Insider Trading (BBG)
  • Zucker Is Lead Candidate to Head CNN (WSJ) - it's not true until CNN misreports it
  • Iran "will press on with enrichment:" nuclear chief (Reuters)


Overnight Media Digest


Virtu Financial LLC has emerged as the early front-runner to buy Knight Capital Group Inc in a deal expected to value the bruised brokerage firm at more than $1 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported citing people with knowledge about the continuing sale talks.

* Jeff Zucker, the former chief executive of NBCUniversal, is the lead candidate to become the next president of CNN Worldwide, say people familiar with the matter.

* ConAgra Foods Inc said it reached an agreement to buy Ralcorp Holdings Inc, emerging as victor in a 20-month takeover fight. Once the deal closes, Omaha-based ConAgra will become the largest private-label food manufacturer in the United States.

* Hewlett-Packard's latest drama took another twist on Tuesday as the former chief executive of Autonomy Corp published a letter calling for HP to specify its allegations of accounting improprieties surrounding the software company.

* Apple Inc pushed out an executive responsible for its mapping service about two weeks ago, according to people briefed on the matter, as the company tries to recover from the map service's rocky debut




Britain's cabinet descended into finger-pointing on Tuesday as ministers turned on each other for failing to do more to deliver growth ahead of next week's Autumn Statement.


Francois Hollande demanded on Tuesday that Lakshmi Mittal, the steel magnate, guarantee the long-term future of workers at a disputed plant in northern France.


A record number of U.S. companies have announced special dividends in recent months in order to escape higher taxes on equity income payments.


ConAgra Foods sealed a deal to buy Ralcorp Holdings for $5 billion, more than a year and a half after first bidding on it.


Hewlett Packard rebuffed a request by former Autonomy chief executive Mike Lynch to detail accusations of accounting fraud leveled against the British software company.


Muddy Waters Research on Tuesday warned that Olam, the Asian commodity business, runs a high risk of failure amid possible accounting "malfeasance".


Mervyn King issued a rare apology on Tuesday over the appearance that the BoE's independence to set monetary policy had been compromised.


Euro zone governments could be forced to accept losses on their rescue loans to Greece after Monday's deal to overhaul its bailout failed to agree how to reach new debt targets.


Moody's faces a ban on rating products issued by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway in an EU clampdown on alleged conflicts of interest at credit rating agencies.



Apple has fired a manager who oversaw its mobile mapping service, continuing to clean house after a bad stumble. Eddy Cue, senior vice president for Internet software and services at Apple, fired the manager, Richard Williamson, according to two people briefed on the matter who did not want to be named to avoid Apple's ire.

* Facebook Inc has started an online gift service, hoping that the moneymaking potential of social gift giving will please its Wall Street investors.

* In the fight between Hewlett-Packard and the founder of its Autonomy unit, the gloves are well and truly off. The former head of Autonomy, Mike Lynch, issued a public letter on Tuesday that called on the board of HP to defend its claims of accounting fraud at the company




* New rules aimed at protecting the environment will drive up the price of new cars and trucks by thousands of dollars but save motorists money at the pump. Environment Minister Peter Kent said on Tuesday that Ottawa will match a proposal from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require that, by 2025, cars and light trucks be 50 percent more fuel efficient and emit half as much greenhouse gases as current models.

* Kathleen Wynne says bureaucrats in her office were in the process of making changes to Ontario's conflict of interest rules governing municipalities before she resigned as Ontario's minister of municipal affairs and housing to jump into the provincial Liberal leadership race.

Reports in the business section:

* CNOOC Ltd is facing new delays in its effort to close its proposed C$15.1 billion ($15.19 billion) acquisition of Calgary-based Nexen Inc, after a deadline for U.S. approval of the transfer of Nexen's Gulf of Mexico assets expired without a decision. To complete its proposed takeover, the Chinese state-owned company needs the approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States -- an inter-agency group led by the Treasury Department that must determine whether a proposed deal represents a threat to U.S. security.

* The Canadian economy is gearing down as a faltering housing market, tepid consumer spending and choppy demand for exports turn a slow growing economy into a barely growing one. Economists from Bay Street to Ottawa and Paris have downgraded their growth forecasts in the past month, and some see the tepid climate stretching well into next year.


* The exclusive 357C club in Old Montreal is treasured by members as a refuge from prying eyes, a place where business can be conducted "in the utmost comfort and discretion," according to its website. But last month, six investigators for Quebec's Charbonneau commission descended on the private club, looking for evidence of shady dealings conducted within the wood panelled walls.


* Half of Quebec's 50 biggest publicly traded companies are vulnerable to foreign takeover attempts, new research suggests. It's a statistical call to arms from a leading corporate expert who argues Quebec is doing the right thing in taking national ownership of the "say no" fight after Ontario ignored it for years.

Yvan Allaire, a former Bombardier Inc executive who is chairman of Montreal's Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organizations, analyzed the capital structures of Quebec's largest firms and concluded that 24 of the top 50 aren't equipped to avoid being acquired.

* Bombardier Inc has booked the largest single firm order for business jets in its history with a deal to sell 56 Global aircraft for C$3.1 billion ($3.12 billion) to VistaJet Holding SA, as the Swiss charter company makes a push into emerging markets including Brazil, China, Russia and Africa.




-- Though safeguards for investors in Chinese companies steadily improved between 2003 and 2011, the country's markets scored badly when it came to investor protection over interest rights, one of the key hurdles for attracting investors to China's markets.

-- The preparations for launching sovereign debt futures have been concluded and a crude oil futures market was being actively established, while the glass futures market has already received regulatory approval and would start trading soon on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange, the vice-chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission said at a futures trading conference on Tuesday.


-- According to the Wenzhou branch of China Banking Regulatory Commission, the city's non-performing loan ratio likely fell in October from the previous month, its first fall after rising for 13 straight months.


-- The minister of industry and information technology said China's automobile production and sales rose by 4.56 percent and 3.56 percent, respectively, in the first 10 months of this year.


-- Miners in China will be required to survey public opinion ahead of mining plans to avoid disputes with local residents, said the country's land watchdog, the Department of Policy and Legislation of the Ministry of Land and Resources.


-- Chinese alcohol maker Jiugui Liquor Co Ltd suspended production on Tuesday after the country's watchdogs said they had found toxic plasticizers in samples of the company's products last week.


-- China's online transaction value hit 5.6 trillion yuan ($899.99 billion) during the January-September period, up 25 percent from a year ago.


Fly on the Wall 7:00 AM Market Recap



Akamai (AKAM) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Entergy (ETR) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie
Hercules Offshore (HERO) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
IAMGOLD (IAG) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC
Nabors Industries (NBR) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Patterson-UTI Energy (PTEN) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Pioneer Energy (PES) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Vornado (VNO) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup


CenturyLink (CTL) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Ensco (ESV) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Fred's (FRED) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrust
Ralcorp (RAH) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Rowan Companies (RDC) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Seadrill (SDRL) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank
Sherwin-Williams (SHW) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Nomura
Windstream (WIN) downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray

Initiations (AMZN) initiated with an Outperform at Cowen
Google (GOOG) initiated with an Outperform at Cowen
Idenix (IDIX) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
InterActiveCorp (IACI) initiated with a Neutral at Cowen
LinkedIn (LNKD) initiated with a Neutral at Cowen
Netflix (NFLX) initiated with a Neutral at Cowen
Pandora (P) initiated with a Neutral at Cowen
Vodafone (VOD) initiated with an Outperform at RW Baird
Workday (WDAY) initiated with a Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Yahoo! (YHOO) initiated with a Neutral at Cowen
eBay (EBAY) initiated with a Neutral at Cowen


Google (GOOG) CEO Page said to meet with FTC as antitrust probe wraps-up, Bloomberg reported
Knight Capital (KCG) canceled presentation at KBW conference on Nov. 29, Bloomberg reported
Principal Financial (PFG) sees $400M-$600M total capital deployed in FY13
Sees FY13 Retirement and Investor Services revenue growth 6%-8%
Costco (COST) plans special cash dividend of $7.00 per share
Green Mountain (GMCR) "comfortable" with 15%-20% topline growth over next few years
Sees size of single serve market about 35M by end of 2016
Expects to introduce more Vue platforms in FY13
Sees FY13 free cash flow $100M-$150M
ONEOK Partners (OKS) not to proceed with Bakken crude express pipeline project
Cites lack of long-term commitments for cancellation
Still sees increasing EBITDA by 17%-21% annually
Gilead's (GILD) Viread approved in EU for HIV-1 infection in children and adolescents
Aveo (AVEO), Astellas (ALPMY) announced FDA acceptance of NDA filing for tivozanib
Kirby (KEX) to acquire Penn Maritime for approximately $295M
Equal (EQU) to sell royalties and fee title lands to Keystone Royalty for $11.4M


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Yingli Green (YGE), PVH Corp. (PVH), Focus Media (FMCN), China Distance Education (DL), Green Mountain (GMCR), Analog Devices (ADI)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
CGI Group (GIB), JA Solar (JASO), The Fresh Market (TFM), JoS. A. Bank (JOSB), Zoltek (ZOLT), Universal Technical Institute (UTI)


The banking industry is seeing a significant decline in profits from currency trading, as once-lucrative businesses are eroded by electronic trading and the proliferation of new platforms, the Wall Street Journal reports
Cnooc (CEO) and Nexen (NXY) resubmitted their application for review by the U.S. government of Cnooc's $15.1B takeover deal, the Wall Street Journal reports
Two weeks before the Fed’s next policy-setting meeting, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans pushed for more easing, while Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher advocated limits, Reuters reports
China's economy relies on an a high level of investment and risks a potentially destabilizing increase if the government seeks to keep growth at about current levels for years to come, IMF research suggests, Reuters reports
Ford (F) Chairman Bill Ford said in SHanghai that China should take steps against traffic congestion as its cities become increasingly crowded. An estimated 350M people will move into Chinese cities in the next two decades, threatening to worsen air quality and traffic, Bloomberg reports
Olam International (OLMIY) said it faces no threat of insolvency after Muddy Waters LLC likened it to Enron. The company has the capacity to meet its debt obligations of $1.2B in the next 12 months, in addition to its planned spending, Olam said, Bloomberg reports


CAI International (CAP) announces offering of $70M of common stock
Clean Harbors (CLH) 6M share Secondary priced at $56.00
Echo Therapeutics (ECTE) intends to offer common stock
FleetCor (FLT) files to sell 4.5M shares of common stock for holders
Medley Capital (MCC) announces offering of 5M shares of common stock
PRGX Global (PRGX) announces offering of 6.25M shares of common stock