Frontrunning: April 15

  • Ukraine forces move against separatists (FT)
  • China GDP Gauge Seen Showing Deeper Slowdown (BBG)
  • China Is Losing Its Taste for Gold (WSJ)
  • Regulators Weigh Curbs on Trading Fees (WSJ)
  • Obama, Putin Talk as Unrest Roils Eastern Ukraine (WSJ)
  • Japan PM talks with BOJ chief, does not push for easing (Reuters)
  • BRICS countries to set up their own IMF (RBTH)
  • IMF Members Weigh Options to Sidestep U.S. Congress on Overhaul (WSJ)
  • Zebra to Buy Motorola Solutions Unit for $3.45 Billion (BBG)
  • Chinese Thunder God Herb Works as Well as Pain Therapy (BBG)
  • Italian Premier Renzi Names State-Controlled Company Bosses (WSJ)
  • China New Credit Declines as Money-Supply Growth Decelerates  (BBG)
  • European Companies See Sales Growth Hit by Exchange Rates (WSJ)


Overnight Media Digest


* Jeff Immelt may give up leadership of General Electric Co sooner than his expected 20-year tenure, as he and fellow directors re-evaluate the right term for its chief executive, people familiar with GE's thinking said. (

* Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Michael Corbat vowed to find an "industrial-strength" solution to the regulatory problems dogging the bank. Speaking after Citigroup reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings on Monday, Corbat faced more than a dozen questions from analysts on the bank's recent failure to win regulatory approval to return capital to shareholders. (

* Boeing Co said it has reached a partial agreement on details of a new deal with one of its largest suppliers, Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc, though after months of talks, the two sides have yet to finalize a long-term pact for key parts of its main commercial jet programs. The proposed agreement would replace a deal that ran out in 2013 and was then extended, covering parts such as fuselages produced for Boeing's best-selling 737 plane. (

* Google Inc on Monday acquired a maker of solar-powered drones - a startup that Facebook Inc had also considered acquiring - as the technology giants battle to extend their influence and find new users in the far corners of the earth. Google didn't disclose the purchase price for New Mexico-based Titan Aerospace, which is developing jet-sized drones that are intended to fly nonstop for years. (

* A fee system that is a major source of revenue for exchanges and some high-frequency trading firms is coming under the heightened scrutiny of regulators concerned that market prices are being distorted, according to top Securities and Exchange Commission officials. (

* Some of Twitter Inc's biggest and earliest backers said they don't intend to sell shares when rules barring them from doing so expire next month, a vote of confidence in the young public company, whose shares have tumbled in recent months. (

* In the first courtroom appearance by a Samsung executive during the high-stakes patent case against Apple Inc , former U.S. mobile division CEO Dale Sohn said the South Korean firm successfully changed its approach from marketing its products together with mobile carriers to promoting its own brand. Sohn said Samsung's gains in the U.S. smartphone market are the result of a strategy shift begun in 2011, not because it "followed" Apple. (

* General Motors Co Chief Executive Mary Barra took new steps on Monday to revamp the auto maker's senior staff as it copes with the internal and external fallout from recent massive and troubled safety recalls. GM said its heads of human resources and communications had left the company Monday. GM said the two left to pursue "personal interests" and their exits weren't connected to a nearly decade-long delay in recalling vehicles. (

* A federal court has barred Medtronic Inc from selling its new artificial heart valve to most patients in the United States, despite finding that the device is "safer" and has "a lower risk of death" than a competing device. (

* A federal appeals court struck down part of a controversial rule requiring publicly traded U.S. companies to say whether their products contain certain minerals from war-torn central Africa, citing free-speech concerns. (

* Mt. Gox founder Mark Karpeles said he would not come to the United States later this week to answer questions about the Japanese bitcoin exchange's U.S. bankruptcy case, Mt. Gox lawyers told a federal judge on Monday. Mt. Gox's bankruptcy lawyers said that Karpeles is "not willing to travel to the U.S.," despite an order from Bankruptcy Judge Stacey Jernigan. (

* More than 51,500 stockbrokers failed a basic exam needed to sell securities at least once, according to data that Wall Street regulators don't disclose to investors, and those who repeatedly failed have on average worse disciplinary records. Securities regulators, notified this month of the Journal analysis, said they would consider giving more information to investors. (



Ukraine's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time in eight months in an effort to shore up its currency and rein in inflation as its political crisis deepens.

Spanish telecoms provider Telefonica SA is offering to lease some spectrum to a German competitor in a bid to secure EU antitrust approval for its proposed takeover of KPN's E-Plus unit in Germany.

Glencore Xstrata Plc has offered $1.3 billion to buy Chad-focused oil company Caracal Energy underscoring its ambition to expand upstream in the oil sector.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi proposed new managers for state-backed companies such as oil major Eni and defence group Finmeccanica in a shake-up that tests Renzi's pledge to break with old-style cronyism.

Security company G4S is facing criticism from shareholders for announcing a big pay rise for its new chief executive, despite a recent scandal involving the overcharging of UK taxpayers for tagging offenders.

Google has bought dronemaker Titan Aerospace in an attempt to provide Internet access to more parts of the world.



* In the first major shake-up of General Motors Co's senior management since the company announced a wide-ranging recall in February, its chief spokesman and head Washington adviser, and its top human resources executive have left the company. (

* Investors and analysts feared the worst from Citigroup Inc , the global bank that has been besieged for months by regulatory problems and an industry-wide trading slump. But Citigroup managed to beat Wall Street expectations on Monday, with a 4 percent increase in first-quarter profits, compared with a year earlier. (

* Last week, Sotheby's defended itself against activist investor Daniel Loeb by questioning both his strategy and his credentials in the art world. On Monday, Loeb sought to rebut criticisms of both. In a 30-page document, Loeb's Third Point hedge fund laid out its case to shareholders about why it should win three seats on the auction house's board. (

* For rent and utilities to be considered affordable, they are supposed to take up no more than 30 percent of a household's income. But that goal is increasingly unattainable for middle-income families as a tightening market pushes up rents ever faster, outrunning modest rises in pay. (

* Even as the cost of prescription drugs has plummeted for many Americans, a small slice of the population is being asked to shoulder more and more of the cost of expensive treatments for diseases like cancer and hepatitis C, according to a report to be released on Tuesday by a major drug research firm. (




* IT expert Peter Faist, swept up in a criminal probe into the alleged destruction of government records, agreed to testify at a committee of the Ontario legislature via videoconference. (

* Conservative senators are recommending the Canadian government abandon plans to exempt certain fundraising calls from election spending limits, one of nine changes to the controversial Fair Elections Act recommended unanimously by a Senate committee. (

Reports in the business section:

* The hundreds of Canadians whose social insurance numbers were stolen from the Canada Revenue Agency in a Heartbleed breach likely won't find out they were hit for several days. The CRA announced Monday, following a temporary shutdown of its public online services caused by the Heartbleed Internet bug, that about 900 social insurance numbers were stolen from its computers. (


* Canadian defence and diplomatic officials have been quietly working on plans for possible Canadian military missions - as well as shoring up non-religious groups on the ground - in Syria as its three-year civil war continues. Internal documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen show National Defence has drawn up at least five scenarios in which it could become involved in Syria's ongoing civil war. (

* One month after she resigned as Alberta Premier amid a series of spending scandals, Alison Redford is back in the spotlight for revelations that she took her daughter on 50 government flights, including a long weekend to Jasper taken at the height of cleanup efforts for the 2013 floods. (


* Western cable giant Shaw Communications Inc said Monday it plans to trim 3 percent of its workforce as it consolidates several of its operations into more streamlined divisions. (

* Canada's financial regulator has unveiled a set of proposed guidelines for mortgage insurance providers aimed at tightening standards around underwriting governance and risk management. (




- Further reform of real estate markets calls for a long-term mechanism to increase supply, instead of short-term stimulus, an editorial said, commenting on rumours that restrictions on property development are likely to be eased at local level.

- The China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) is going to explore multiple channels to fulfill the financing needs in infrastructure construction in the urbanisation process, including using preferred shares, said Wang Zuji, vice chairman of the CIRC.


- Sources said China's insurance regulators are conducting the first round of inspections into domestic companies' investment risks within the insurance industry, in particular possible inside trading.


- Analysts expect the economic growth rate for the first quarter of 2014 to come in around 7.5 percent.


- China's local governments have been relying too much on income generated by selling lands, with Zhejiang and Tianjin paying off two thirds of governments' debts through land sales in 2012, according to auditing data released by provincial governments.


- The capacity of Pudong International Airport's Terminal-1 will rise to 36 million passengers a year from the current level of 20 million with the addition of a whole new floor to be undertaken. This major project is set to get under way this year, said the Shanghai Airport Authority.


- "After the first round of ballyhoo, the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ) has not yet excited enterprises with any tangible breakthrough," wrote an editorial blaming the Shanghai municipal government for the failure of the FTZ to attract investor interest by enacting significant reforms.


- China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and Supervision Department made public of 220 cases of CCP members' misbehaviour from April 8 to 11, with their names posted on the department's website. It has recently opened a reporting channel for Internet users to facilitate the supervision and punishment over the party members.


The Times


Sir John Sunderland has been ditched as the head of Barclays' remuneration committee in an attempt to placate angry shareholders days before its annual meeting.


Representatives of some of the Co-operative Group's 90,000-strong workforce have waded into the row at the stricken mutual, accusing board members of indulging in "petty politicking" and putting livelihoods at risk.


Glencore Xstrata has acquired Caracal Energy , its partner in oil-producing assets in the central African country of Chad, in a deal that values the company at $1.35 billion.

The Telegraph

OUSTED G4S BOSS COLLECTS 400,000 POUNDS-A-YEAR PENSION Annual report details payments to Nick Buckles after a "challenging" year that culminated in the criminal tagging scandal.

SSP BEEFS UP BOARD AHEAD OF POTENTIAL 2-BLN-STG FLOAT Fast-food caterer appoints a trio of corporate heavyweights from the travel and retail worlds as it weighs up a London listing.

The Guardian

UK WORKERS RECEIVE FIRST REAL PAY RISE FOR FOUR YEARS Wage increases, forecast at 1.8 percent in February, finally overtake inflation at 1.6 percent to March, according to official data.

PEUGEOT CITROEN BOSS PLEDGES RETURN TO PROFIT BY 2018 Carlos Tavares unveils programme promising to reverse losses in Europe and emerging markets following sales decline.


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot

Domestic economic reports scheduled today include:
Empire State manufacturing survey for April at 8:30--consensus 8.0
Consumer Price Index for March at 8:30--consensus up 0.1% from prior month
Long-term Treasury International Capital flows for February at 9:00--consensus $30B
NAHB housing market index for April at 10:00--consensus 49


Basic Energy (BAS) upgraded to Hold from Sell at Wunderlich
Beacon Roofing (BECN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust
Carlisle (CSL) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital
Citigroup (C) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Bernstein
EnerNOC (ENOC) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Equinix (EQIX) upgraded to Outperform from Perform at Oppenheimer
Estee Lauder (EL) upgraded to Conviction Buy from Buy at Goldman
General Cable (BGC) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Longbow
Ingram Micro (IM) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Key Energy (KEG) upgraded to Hold from Sell at Wunderlich
MasterCard (MA) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital
MedAssets (MDAS) reinstated with an Outperform at Raymond James
Morgan Stanley (MS) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
New York & Co. (NWY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital
Pier 1 Imports (PIR) upgraded to Overweight from Equalweight at Barclays
Qlik Technologies (QLIK) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Mizuho
Sealed Air (SEE) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie
Veeco (VECO) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Berenberg
Visa (V) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital
Yahoo (YHOO) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie


AXIS Capital (AXS) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Diamondback Energy (FANG) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrust
IBM (IBM) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
International Paper (IP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Longbow
PetSmart (PETM) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
RockTenn (RKT) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Longbow
Sharp (SHCAY) downgraded to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies
Travelers (TRV) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Wal-Mart (WMT) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at William Blair


Amber Road (AMBR) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
Amber Road (AMBR) initiated with a Buy at Needham
Amber Road (AMBR) initiated with a Buy at Stifel
Amber Road (AMBR) initiated with an Outperform at Pacific Crest
Borderfree (BRDR) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
Borderfree (BRDR) initiated with a Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Borderfree (BRDR) initiated with an Outperform at Credit Suisse
Borderfree (BRDR) initiated with an Outperform at Pacific Crest
Dean Foods (DF) initiated with a Buy at BB&T
Halozyme (HALO) initiated with a Buy at Citigroup
Repligen (RGEN) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
Spansion (CODE) initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee
TPG Specialty Lending (TSLX) initiated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill
TPG Specialty Lending (TSLX) initiated with a Buy at Janney Capital
TPG Specialty Lending (TSLX) initiated with an Equalweight at Barclays
Versartis (VSAR) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
Versartis (VSAR) initiated with a Buy at Citigroup
Versartis (VSAR) initiated with an Overweight at Morgan Stanley


Zebra Technologies (ZBRA) said it will acquire Motorola's (MSI) enterprise unit for $3.45B
Blackhawk (HAWK) completed its spin-off from Safeway (SWY)
Whirlpool (WHR) boosted its dividend 20% to 75c per share and said its board approved a $500M share repurchase plan
FedFirst Financial (FFCO) announced a deal to merge with CB Financial Services in a deal valued at $54.5M, entitling FedFirst shareholders to receive $23.00 per share in cash or shares of the new combined company
Pep Boys (PBY) said it expects higher tire prices to weigh on revenue through Q2
Axiall (AXLL) forecast Q1 EBITDA $65M-$70M
Merck (MRK) said the FDA approved the company's GRASTEK tablet


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Infosys (INFY), Pinnacle Financial (PNFP), Sensient (SXT), Bank of the Ozarks (OZRK)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Pep Boys (PBY)


GE (GE) CEO may give up leadership earlier than 20-year tenure, WSJ says
Duke Energy (DUK) directors targeted over ash spill, FT reports
Samsung (SSNLF): Gains in smartphone market the result of strategy shift, WSJ reports
Herbalife (HLF) under investigation by NY AG Schneiderman, NY Post reports
Maker Studios stays with Disney (DIS) offer, Re/code says
Patients paying much more for specialty drugs (AZN, BMY, LLY, GSK, JNJ, MRK, NVS, PFE, RHHBY, SNY), NY Times reports
Aleris looking to sell recycling, alloy segment, WSJ reports
Google Glass (GOOG) goes on sale to U.S. residents today, USA Today reports


City Office REIT (CIO) 5.8M share IPO priced at $12.50
Galena (GALE) files to sell 6M shares of common stock for holders
National General (NGHC) files to sell 12.82M shares of common stock for holders
Paycom Software (PAYC) 6.645M share IPO priced at $15.00
TransEnterix (TRXC) 12.5M share Secondary priced at $4.00



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