Frontrunning: March 27

  • What bread... What circuses... JPMorgan Chase Faces Full-Court Press of Federal Investigations (NYT)
  • European Regulators to Charge Banks Over Derivatives (WSJ) ... but forgive us if we don't hold our breath
  • Cyprus readies capital controls to avert bank run (Reuters)
  • Cyprus Capital Controls First in EU Could Last Years (BBG)
  • Damage ripples through Cypriot economy (FT)
  • G4S readies guards as Cypriot banks prepare to open (Reuters)
  • Global pool of triple A status shrinks 60% (FT)
  • Customers Flee Wal-Mart Empty Shelves for Target, Costco (BBG)
  • BOE Says U.K. Banks Have Capital Shortfall of $38 Billion (BBG)
  • U.K. Banks Facing Capital Shortfall (WSJ)
  • Berkshire to Pay Nothing to Be Among Top Goldman Sachs Holders (BBG)
  • Cyprus Details Bank Revamp (WSJ)
  • Kazumasa Iwata Joins Kuroda Naysayers as BOJ to Meet (BBG)
  • BRICS Nations Need More Time for New Bank, Russia Says (BBG)
  • Foxconn Plant in Peanut Field Shows Labor Eroding China Edge (BBG)


Overnight Media Digest


* Leave it to Warren Buffett to find a way to get hold of 10 million Goldman Sachs Group Inc shares without handing over a penny. The billionaire chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc accepted the stake in exchange for giving up his company's right to purchase a larger number of Goldman shares at a below-market price, according to terms of the deal announced on Tuesday.

* Barrick Gold Corp co-chairman Peter Munk signaled he is looking to pass the scepter at the gold-mining giant he founded about 30 years ago. His call comes amid a shake-up in the top ranks of the mining industry, where a raft of high-profile leaders have stepped down, or been replaced, amid shareholder revolts over overpriced acquisitions and generally poor share-price performance.

* CBS Corp acquired half of TV Guide Network and will enter a 50-50 partnership with Lions Gate Entertainment Corp for the entertainment channel and website.

* DuPont Co agreed to pay Monsanto Co $1.75 billion as part of a series of licensing agreements for genetically modified seed technology that spell a truce in the rivals' bitter patent disputes.

* Large global banks' legal tab is poised to soar beyond $100 billion as investors, insurers and municipalities pursue damages for actions tied to the mortgage meltdown, the financial crisis and the rate-rigging scandal.

* Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is in the process of co-organizing a political advocacy group made up of top technology leaders that would push federal legislative reform on issues ranging from immigration to education, said people familiar with the development.

* Honda Motor Co Ltd expects its U.S. new-car sales to increase by 8 percent in March over a year ago, led by a surge in demand for its redesigned Accord sedan, a senior executive said on Tuesday.

* Health-care companies are circling around the $7 billion market for injectable drugs that are widely used by hospitals to treat conditions from cancer to pain - but which have often been in short supply.

* A highly productive informant has led U.S. federal prosecutors to another group of alleged insider traders, one that includes a hedge-fund analyst and the investment chief for Wyoming's retirement system.

* Mediaset SpA, Italy's largest private broadcaster, posted its first net loss since going public in 1996, as the company's slow response to new competition and a plummeting ad market in Italy takes its toll.



Start-up banks in Britain will not need as much capital as their established rivals starting from April, Britain's Financial Services Authority (FSA) said.

The Federal Reserve has ordered Citigroup Inc to better police for the risk of money laundering.

Warren Buffett agreed to become Goldman Sachs Group Inc's biggest shareholders by converting his warrants into shares.

Deutsche Bank has provisioned for 500 million euros to cover possible fines for the alleged manipulation of Libor interest rates.

Britain's Kingfisher Plc reported sharply lower profits as cash-strapped consumers cut back on home improvements in the economic downturn. T-Mobile USA will eliminate device subsidies and two-year service contracts that are favoured in the mobile industry to sell expensive handsets.



* In a previously undisclosed case, prosecutors are examining whether JPMorgan Chase & Co failed to fully alert authorities to suspicions about Bernard Madoff, according to several people with direct knowledge of the matter.

* With time running out until Cyprus's devastated banks must reopen their doors to the public, Cypriot and European officials are scrambling to put in place a set of measures that would allow jittery depositors access to their savings while preventing many billions of euros from fleeing the country.

* CBS Corp announced on Tuesday that it had completed a deal to buy a half-interest in TVGN, formerly the TV Guide Network, fulfilling a longstanding goal of adding a general entertainment basic cable network to the company's media portfolio.

* American mobile carrier T-Mobile, which has struggled against rivals like AT&T and Verizon, will offer the iPhone 5 cheaper than the competition, and most important, customers would not have to sign a contract.

* DuPont Co will pay Monsanto Co at least $1.75 billion over 10 years for the rights to technology for genetically engineered soybeans that are resistant to herbicides.

* Gains in housing and manufacturing propelled the U.S. economy over the winter, according to reports released on Tuesday. Home prices rose 8.1 percent in January, the fastest annual rate since the peak of the housing boom in summer 2006.

* A squabble between a group fighting spam and a Dutch company that hosts Web sites said to be sending spam has escalated into one of the largest computer attacks on the Internet, causing widespread congestion and jamming crucial infrastructure around the world.




* More than a day after industrial waste water leaked from a Suncor Energy Inc site into the Athabasca River, the oil-sands giant and the province were still trying to determine which, if any, toxic materials were carried into the major Alberta waterway.

Reports in the business section:

* Suzuki Canada Inc will end its 30-year run of selling vehicles in Canada next year, the final withdrawal of Suzuki Motor Corp from markets it once thought so important that it manufactured vehicles here.

* Canadian and South Korean officials are playing down Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's assertion that a free-trade deal between the countries is imminent. Flaherty, who is on a four-day trip to drum up business in Asia, said Monday after a speech in Hong Kong that Canada is "very close" to wrapping up an agreement with South Korea.


* Canadians continue to pay more to fund a "gold plated" parliamentary pension plan that spending watchdogs say has taxpayers ultimately contributing more than C$25 for every dollar from MPs. The federal government announced last fall it is overhauling the parliamentary pension plan - including tripling MP contributions and increasing retirement age - after the next election.


* Target Canada president Tony Fisher addressed Tuesday the sticker shock gripping some consumers who expected the retailer's prices would be on par with its U.S. stores when it opened outlets across the country this month.




-- Net profits at 793 Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed companies hit 1.05 trillion yuan ($169.05 billion) in 2012, according to data from Chinese firm Wind Information.

-- Poly Real Estate will keep its annual growth at 20 percent over the next seven years, said chairman Song Guangju. Property tightening policies should not change the firm's plans for growth and expansion, he added.


-- New loans from China's big four banks in March are estimated to have increased against previous months, and new loans from all financial institutions could reach 850 billion yuan ($136.85 billion), according to the official Chinese daily.


-- A week-long drought in northwest China has hit 4.35 million people in Gansu province. The dry spell, expected to last until the end of April, has left 650,000 people facing water shortage and affected 398,667 hectares of farmland, according to the provincial civil affairs department.


-- China will subsidise a total of 170 billion yuan to support grain farmers in 2013, the finance ministry told the official Chinese paper.


-- Global tech giant Apple is heading to court this afternoon for a pre-hearing related to a patent dispute over the U.S.-based firm's Siri voice-activated software. The pre-hearing will be held at Shanghai's No.1 Intermediate People's Court.

-- U.S. retailer Wal-Mart will close three stores in China in May to streamline its sales network. In a statement the firm said it would still continue to invest and open new stores in Shanghai, where it has over 20 currently.


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



AOL (AOL) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Capital Product (CPLP) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill
Cliffs Natural (CLF) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
DSW (DSW) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Genomic Health (GHDX) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Leerink
Gol Linhas (GOL) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Mattress Firm (MFRM) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Sykes Enterprises (SYKE) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Trulia (TRLA) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
VMware (VMW) upgraded to Strong Buy from Buy at ISI Group
ViroPharma (VPHM) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan


Charles River Labs (CRL) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
Cliffs Natural (CLF) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Enphase Energy (ENPH) downgraded to Underperform at Raymond James
Obagi Medical (OMPI) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Roth Capital
Sun Bancorp (SNBC) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Sterne Agee
Western Alliance (WAL) downgraded to Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette


Crimson Exploration (CXPO) initiated with a Hold at Canaccord
Fifth Street Finance (FSC) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorgan
MasTec (MTZ) initiated with a Buy at Lazard Capital
Vascular Solutions (VASC) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Weingarten Realty (WRI) initiated with an Equal Weight at Evercore
Western Digital (WDC) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital


The BOE says U.K. banks have around GBP25B capital shortfall
CBS Corporation (CBS) and Lionsgate (LGF) entered into a 50/50 partnership for TVGN and the website The venture will combine CBS's programming, production and marketing assets with Lionsgate's resources in motion pictures, television and digitally delivered content
Venaxis (APPY) announced plans to accelerate European market development for its APPY1 appendicitis test
LogMeIn (LOGM) announced that a federal jury in Eastern District of Virginia found that LogMeIn products do not infringe on U.S.Patent No. 6,928,479, as asserted by 01 Communique
Shah Capital offered to acquire UTStarcom (UTSI) for $3.20 per share


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Anthera Pharmaceuticals (ANTH), SAIC (SAI), Landec (LNDC), Envivio (ENVI)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Mattress Firm (MFRM), Metabolix (MBLX)


European authorities may soon bring a case against some of the region's big banks alleging collusion in the $27T market for credit derivatives, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Ericsson (ERIC) is in talks to buy Microsoft's (MSFT) IPTV business, Reuters reports.
Wells Fargo (WFC) said its online banking website was experiencing an unusually high volume of traffic that it believes stems from a denial-of-service cyber attack, reports Reuters.
J.C. Penney (JCP) CEO Ron Johnson has reportedly started to raise prices across the company's stores, the New York Post reports. According to sources, the hikes are "significant," with prices returning to previous levels before the "fair and square" initiative.


Access Midstream (ACMP) 9M share Spot Secondary being re-offered at $39.86
BioMed Realty (BMR) files to sell 15M shares of common stock
Francesca's (FRAN) files to sell 7.4M shares of common stock for holders
Garrison Capital (GARS) 5.333M share IPO priced at $15.00
NV5 Holdings (NVEE) 1.4M share IPO priced at $6.00
Towerstream (TWER) files to sell 433,673 shares of common stock for holders
Tumi (TUMI) files to sell 10.14M shares of common stock


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