Frontrunning: June 19

  • China cash crunch deepens as PBOC withholds funding (FT), just a week behind ZH
  • Platts in hot manipulated crude again: Traders Try to Game Platts Oil-Price Benchmarks (WSJ)
  • Kabul Suspends Security Talks With U.S., jeopardizing plans to maintain a U.S. military presence (WSJ)
  • Afghan government irked over U.S. talks with Taliban (Reuters)
  • BOJ Kuroda: BOJ to Adjust Policy If Japan Econ Changes (MNI)
  • Google Considering Private-Equity Alliances (BBG)
  • Korean Air Buying 747-8s to End Boeing’s Sales Drought (BBG)
  • Syria's Islamists seize control as moderates dither (Reuters)
  • SEC considers policy shift on admissions of wrongdoing (FT)
  • U.K. Banker Bonuses Face Decade Delays in Industry Overhaul (BBG)
  • French EU-wariness complicates life for Hollande (Reuters)
  • How China Fudges Its Numbers (WSJ)
  • House Votes to Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks of Pregnancy (BBG)
  • Deloitte banned for StanChart ‘violations’ (FT)


Overnight Media Digest


* U.S. President Barack Obama will make the case for a new phase in nuclear weapons reductions that would reduce arsenals by another one-third in a major foreign policy speech in Berlin on Wednesday.

* Signs of a stronger U.S. economy are rippling through the bond markets, sending investors and corporate leaders racing to prepare for higher interest rates.

* Dish Network said it won't submit a new offer for Sprint Nextel by its Tuesday deadline, a move that appears to clear the way for the third largest U.S. wireless carrier to be bought by SoftBank of Japan.

* The G-8 agreed to proposals to tackle tax avoidance and evasion that call for new laws to stop businesses from shifting profits across borders.

* Two of the largest independent U.S. high-frequency-trading firms are in early merger discussions, as a downturn in trading opportunities has spurred cutbacks and tie-up talks among rivals.

RGM Advisors LLC and Allston Trading LLC have discussed a deal that would combine their respective strengths in automated stock trading and futures markets, according to people close to the talks.

* U.S. securities regulators plan to require certain defendants to admit to wrongdoing as a condition of settling securities-fraud charges, SEC Chairman Mary Jo White said Tuesday.

* Some oil traders say they try to skew Platts oil-price benchmarks by offering to do small deals at a loss, with the goal of doing bigger ones at better prices.

* Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has emerged as the last potential foil standing between Michael Dell and his deal to buy his company, after Icahn bought nearly $1 billion of shares from another dissident investor.

* Smithfield Foods's CEO could receive more than $46 million in merger-related payments after helping to orchestrate his company's sale to China's Shuanghui for $4.7 billion.



Cyprus has asked leaders of the Eurozone to overhaul terms of its 10 billion euro bailout, warning that the country might not be able to meet the current rescue terms as it had harmed the country's economy and banking system even more than expected.

Brazil's largest cement producer, Votorantim Cimentos, has scrapped its plans to list in what would have been the second-largest initial public offering globally this year. Deloitte LLP's financial advisory unit will pay $10 million and refrain for one year from new business with certain New York banks to settle accusations over its review of money laundering controls at Standard Chartered Bank.

Chinese network equipment and cellphone maker Huawei Technologies Co would consider buying Finland's Nokia to help it expand its smartphone business, Huawei's head of consumer business said, but added that Microsoft's Windows phone platform used by Nokia as well as Huawei was "weak".

Dutch engineering company Royal Imtech, grappling with fraud at its German and Polish operations that had cost the company hundreds of millions of euros, is considering pressing charges against some members of its former management in those countries.

Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie's stunt double has sued Rupert Murdoch's News Corp over allegations its British newspapers hacked her phone, opening up a new front in the litigation against the owner of The Sun and the now closed News of the World.



* Ben Bernanke faces the growing challenge of shaping investor expectations amid increasing signs that his era as Federal Reserve chairman is ending.

* Google may have pushed the boundaries of antitrust laws with its $1 billion buy of Israeli mapping startup Waze and Google's effort to skirt regulation may invite more scrutiny.

* The American Medical Association has officially recognized obesity as a disease, a move that could induce physicians to pay more attention to the condition and spur more insurers to pay for treatments.

* In resisting calls to ban ads for nutritionally questionable food, Nickelodeon argued that its job was children's entertainment, not nutrition.

* Chrysler and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration resolved their differences, and the automaker will inspect and upgrade 2.7 million Jeep sport utility vehicles for possible defects after the government had claimed they were prone to catastrophic fires in rear-end collisions.

* Tom Wheeler, President Obama's nominee to head the Federal Communications Commission told a Senate committee on Tuesday that his top priorities, if he is confirmed, would be consumer protection, increasing competition and providing sufficient predictability so companies know what rulings to expect.

* Builders stepped up home construction in May and applied for permits to build single-family homes at the fastest pace in five years. The gains show housing remained a crucial source of growth for the economy. Housing starts rose 6.8 percent in May, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 914,000, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday.

* A federal appeals court ruled that Anthony Chiasson, the co-founder of Level Global Investors, and Todd Newman, a former portfolio manager at Diamondback Capital Management, will not have to report to prison while they fight their insider trading convictions.

* Federal and state regulators are united in their concern that outside consulting firms have produced some shoddy work for Wall Street banks. Yet on Tuesday, the regulators took starkly divergent stances toward the multibillion-dollar consulting industry: while federal authorities seemed to reinforce the industry's power, a state agency tried to undercut it




* Amid questions about the Prime Minister's Office, Senate spending, Justin Trudeau's work for charities and Thomas Mulcair's run-in with Mounties on Parliament Hill, MPs have agreed to adjourn the House of Commons.

* After offering to pay back charities and other organizations he gave speeches to, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau doesn't appear to have many takers. Trudeau has come under fire from Conservatives who say he had no business accepting the money - from charities in particular.

* Canada's tourism sector is being hit hard by a foreign-service job action. Walkouts in Canadian embassies and consulates, and especially at those with busy visa operations, have created backlogs for tourist visas - and the threat of long delays has put off many tourists thinking of travelling to Canada.

Reports in the business section:

* Verizon Communications Inc confirmed on Tuesday that it is considering an entry into Canada's C$19 billion ($18.60 billion) wireless market in the wake of a report earlier this week by the Globe and Mail.

* U.S. President Barack Obama said in a television interview aired late Monday that Bernanke has served "longer than he wanted," the latest sign that the Fed chairman is poised to leave after an epic struggle to keep the U.S. economy out of depression.

* Scotia Capital Inc has admitted it failed to adequately supervise clients who were doing "high closing" trading manipulations to boost share prices at the end of trading days in 2009. The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, which is Canada's brokerage industry regulator, approved the settlement details at a hearing Tuesday, requiring Scotia Capital to pay C$150,000 in penalties and C$10,000 to cover IIROC's investigation costs.


* Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday that it was inappropriate for Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau to take money from charities, but refused to address claims that his taxpayer-funded office distributed documents to the media about the story. An Ontario newspaper revealed that the Prime Minister's Office supplied it with documents purporting to show that three organizations that contracted Trudeau to speak at events in 2006 and 2007 ended up losing money.

* Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate, wondering aloud why the government never asks him to write poems, has inadvertently answered his own question. "I wish that my government had asked me to write poetry about immigration policy, about Idle No More, about Canada's complicity in the Middle East, the Enbridge pipeline," Fred Wah, a Saskatchewan-born poet now living in Vancouver, recently told an audience at an Edmonton literary festival.


* Economists are recasting their forecasts upward for Canada and other countries after disappointing performances in 2012. Those turns of fortune hinge on a less crisis-challenged Europe and - critically - growing economic momentum in the United States.




- The pilot property-tax scheme has been submitted to China's State Council by local governments of Beijing, Shenzhen, Nanjing and Hangzhou, sources said, adding that the draft proposals are in the final stages.

- China's cargo throughput by volume at major ports fell 1.8 percent in May from a month ago to 911.73 million tons, data from the ministry of transport showed.


- President Xi Jinping has launched a year-long campaign to clean up "undesirable work styles" within the Communist Party. Formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance must be stamped out to ensure and win back public support, Xi said.

-- Pollution cases that poison more than 30 people or cause an evacuation of over 5,000 will lead to criminal charges, an official at the ministry of environmental protection said, as it announced measures that included harsher punishments.


- A venture between Daimler AG and Warren Buffett-backed BYD Co aims to launch electric cars under the Denza brand by the end of July, the company said. Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co, owner of Denza, said its first mass-production model is scheduled to debut globally at the end of this year.


- China's State Council at its executive meeting expressed concerns raised by the poor quality of baby milk powder, saying it will undermine confidence in society, the newspaper said in a commentary


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot



Adobe (ADBE) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Ball Corp. (BLL) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
CEMEX (CX) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Gevo (GEVO) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Sonic (SONC) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Morgan Stanley
Tanger Factory (SKT) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
United Natural Foods (UNFI) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray


American Eagle (AEO) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Arthur J. Gallagher (AJG) downgraded to Market Perform at William Blair
BlackBerry (BBRY) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Bernstein
Brown & Brown (BRO) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at William Blair
Century Aluminum (CENX) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Cliffs Natural (CLF) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Nexstar (NXST) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Gabelli
Novo Nordisk (NVO) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Exane BNP Paribas
Sonoco Products (SON) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Sprint (S) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie
Tesaro (TSRO) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital
Tetra Tech (TTEK) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Brean Capital


Coca-Cola (KO) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS) initiated with a Neutral at Credit Suisse
Keryx (KERX) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorgan
Neurocrine Biosciences (NBIX) initiated with an Outperform at Oppenheimer
PepsiCo (PEP) initiated with a Neutral at Credit Suisse
Superior Energy (SPN) initiated with an Outperform at Cowen


Southeastern Asset said Icahn in best position to lead alternative Dell (DELL) transaction
Southeastern lowered stake in Dell (DELL) to 4.1% after Icahn sale
Nvidia (NVDA) to begin licensing GPU cores, visual computing portfolio (SNE, INTC, GOOG)
American Medical Assn. backs ban of marketing energy drinks to children (MNST, PEP, KO)
Kodak (EKDKQ) seeks approval for $406M rights offering
CIT Group (CIT) ordered 30 737 MAX 8s from Boeing (BA)
Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) to sell assets, reduce costs in three-year plan
Netflix (NFLX) to launch in the Netherlands later this year
Live Nation (LYV) acquired majority stake in BDG Music, terms not disclosed


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
La-Z-Boy (LZB), Adobe (ADBE), China Cord Blood (CO)


  • While (AMZN) has become the leader in online sales, Wal-Mart (WMT) doesn't want to simply clone their model and is instead creating a vast new logistics system that includes building new warehouses for Web orders, but also uses workers in stores to pack and mail items to customers, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • RGM Advisors LLC and Allston Trading LLC, two of the largest independent U.S. high-frequency-trading firms, are in early merger discussions, as a downturn in trading opportunities has spurred cutbacks and tie-up talks among rivals, sources say, the Wall Street Journal reports
  • Federal Reserve policymakers will likely announce today that they will keep buying bonds at a monthly pace of $85B, while keeping their options open to scale back the program later this year if the U.S. labor market continues to improve, Reuters reports
  • SoftBank (SFTBF) cleared a major hurdle in its attempt to buy U.S. wireless provider Sprint Nextel (S), as rival bidder Dish Network (DISH) declined to make a new offer after SoftBank sweetened its own bid last week. SoftBank CEO Son is  closer to sealing the largest overseas acquisition by a Japanese company in history, after winning support from a key shareholder by raising SoftBank's offer to $21.6B, Reuters reports
  • Google (GOOG), actively on the lookout for acquisitions, is for the first time considering forging alliances with private-equity firms to help it structure deals, Bloomberg reports
  • Global telecommunications companies are chasing after deals from Kansas to Munich in a quest for revenue growth that could lead to the biggest year for mergers in the industry since at least 2006, Bloomberg reports


Biodel (BIOD) files to sell common stock
Bluebird Bio (BLUE) 5.94M share IPO priced at $17.00
Diamondback Energy (FANG) 6M share Secondary priced at $34.75
Gladstone (GOOD) to offer 1.1M shares of common stock
Intercept (ICPT) 1.73M share Secondary priced at $33.01
THL Credit (TCRD) files to sell 6.6M shares of common stock
Valeant (VRX) 23.53M share Secondary priced at $85.00
Virginia Heritage Bank (VGBK) 1.45M share Secondary priced at $14.25
Weyerhaeuser (WY) 29M share Secondary priced at $27.75


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