Frontrunning: May 9

  • Omnicom, Publicis call off proposed $35 billion merger (Reuters)
  • Apple in talks for $3.2bn Beats deal (FT)
  • Alibaba IPO Grew Out of ’80s Chaos and Guy From Goldman (BBG)
  • Nigeria's president at WEF pledges to free kidnapped girls (Reuters)
  • JPMorgan Joins Wells Fargo in Rolling Out Jumbo Offerings (BBG)
  • It's 1999 all over again: Young Bankers Fed Up With 90-Hour Weeks Move to Startups (BBG)
  • ECB stimulus talk knocks euro, peripheral yields (Reuters)
  • Deutsche Bank Currency Crown Lost to Citigroup on Volatility (BBG)
  • London Taxis Plan 10,000-Car Protest Against Uber App Use (BBG)
  • Pfizer Holders Could Face Tax Hit in a Deal for AstraZeneca (WSJ)
  • Pfizer Fights Backlash From U.K, U.S. on AstraZeneca Bid  (BBG)
  • Profound: Worst Wall St. Offenders Should Face Criminal Charges, Expert Says (WSJ)
  • China blames Vietnam for sea collisions, but calls for talks (Reuters)


Overnight Media Digest


* Advertising giants Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe have called off their $35 billion merger amid a variety of hurdles. "There was no finish line in sight and that created uncertainty," said Omnicom's CEO. (

* As more young children get their pudgy hands on their parents' mobile devices, tech and toy industry entrepreneurs are feverishly cranking out apps and gadgets aimed at these digital-savvy youngsters. A side effect of this kiddo-market miniboom is a surge in product-testing sessions relying on tot testers. (

* The European Central Bank sent an unusually strong signal Thursday that it would likely cut interest rates or take other stimulus measures at its June meeting to combat too-low inflation that threatens Europe's fitful recovery. (

* Pfizer could cut its tax bill by hundreds of millions of dollars if it buys AstraZeneca, but thousands of Pfizer shareholders could face a tax hit if the deal goes through. The blow stems from a little-known provision of U.S. tax rules that is triggered when a U.S. company buys a firm overseas and relocates there to reduce its taxes. (

* The U.S. economy is speeding ahead this quarter - perhaps growing faster than 4 percent - as the recovery gets back on track after a winter when growth slowed to a crawl, according to The Wall Street Journal's latest survey of economists. (

* Mobile messaging app developer Snapchat has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers about the disappearing nature of the messages sent through its service. (

* RadioShack Corp is scrapping its plan to close as many as a quarter of its U.S. stores after it failed to reach an agreement with its lenders, dealing a blow to Chief Executive Joe Magnacca's overhaul of the consumer-electronics chain. (



The proposed $35 billion merger between U.S. advertising company Omnicom Group Inc and French rival Publicis Groupe SA has been called off.

Apple is in talks to acquire headphones maker Beats Electronics for about $3.2 billion in what will the largest acquisition for Apple.

Andrew Goodsell, the head of Saga and the AA, is expected to benefit an estimated 80 million pound windfall from the services provider's upcoming initial public offering to the over 50s and the roadside recovery group.

Wellcome Trust, Britain's biggest medical research foundation, said it had "major concerns" about U.S. drug major Pfizer's 63 billion pound offer for AstraZeneca.

Messaging startup Snapchat has settled charges with U.S. regulators which accused it of deceiving consumers by promising that photos sent on its service disappeared forever after a certain period of time.



* Omnicom Group Inc and Publicis Groupe called off their $35 billion merger on Thursday, bringing a premature end to a deal that would have created the largest advertising company in the world. A mix of clashing personalities, disagreements about how the companies would be integrated and complications over legal and tax issues derailed the deal nine months after it was announced. (

* Pfizer Inc's attempt to escape the United States corporate tax rate by acquiring a British drug maker has set off a flurry of activity within other big companies across the country. Pfizer has offered to buy AstraZeneca PLC for $106 billion. If the deal is successful, Pfizer would become an English company, reducing its tax bill by at least $1 billion a year.(

* Apple Inc is in discussions to buy Beats Electronics, the company behind the popular "Beats by Dr. Dre" headphones, for $3.2 billion. The deal would also include the new Beats Music streaming service, which was introduced in January as a competitor to Spotify and Pandora. (

* Snapchat, the popular mobile messaging service, agreed to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission that messages sent through the company's app did not disappear as easily as promised. Under the terms of the settlement, Snapchat will be prohibited from misrepresenting how it maintains the privacy and confidentiality of user information. The company will also be required to start a wide-ranging privacy program and will be independently monitored for 20 years. (

* Daniel Tarullo, the Federal Reserve governor who oversees regulation, said he wants to banish the practice of banks being allowed to use their own tests to assess the riskiness of their assets and activities. This suggestion represents another big shift away from a regulatory regime that left the financial system vulnerable to collapse in the 2008 crisis. (

* Barclays PLC announced its plans to shrink its investment banking business by slashing half of its capital and more than a quarter of its work force, or 7,000 jobs. Instead, Barclays will focus on four core areas - retail and corporate banking, credit cards, banking in Africa and, to a lesser extent, investment banking. (

* Amazon has begun discouraging customers from buying books by Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Colbert, J. D. Salinger and other popular writers. A Hachette spokeswoman said that the publisher was striving to keep Amazon supplied but that the Internet giant was delaying shipments "for reasons of their own." (

* The Federal Election Commission on Thursday voted to allow political committees to accept Bitcoin donations and outlined the ways that the virtual currency can be used by federally regulated campaigns. (

* The Kellogg Company, maker of some of the country's most familiar breakfast cereals, said on Thursday that it had agreed to drop the terms "all natural" and "nothing artificial" from some products in its Kashi line as part of a settlement agreement ending a class-action lawsuit. The settlement, which includes a $5 million payment, comes at a time when food companies are facing a number of lawsuits over ingredients and labeling. (

* A federal bankruptcy judge ordered LightSquared and its chief creditor, Charles Ergen, to discuss a settlement after she refused to approve the wireless provider's plan to exit its two-year bankruptcy. LightSquared premised its plan to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy on subordinating the $1 billion it owes to Ergen, the chairman of Dish Network, to the claims of other creditors. (

* William Lewis, who has served as acting chief executive of News Corp's Dow Jones division since January, has been named its permanent chief, the company announced on Thursday. (

* RadioShack Corp said on Thursday that it could not come to an agreement with its lenders that would allow it to close 1,100 of its stores. The company's credit agreement allowed it to close only 200 stores a year and up to 600 over the life of the agreement. RadioShack had been negotiating with its lender for approval to close nearly twice that total number. (

* CBS Corp reported on Thursday that its first-quarter earnings rose 6 percent as higher licensing fees from the company's Showtime network helped it overcome an advertising downturn caused by less sports programming. CBS has been reducing its reliance on the volatile advertising market by seeking higher fees from cable, satellite and Internet video providers. (




* The Conservative government is vowing to fill a Quebec vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada within weeks. However, confusion remains over how the process will unfold after Prime Minister Stephen Harper's first choice for the bench was rejected. (

* Some trustees at the Toronto District School Board are calling for greater transparency in the wake of revelations that their chairman, Chris Bolton, was investigated for routing donations to his own charity. TDSB staff investigated donations intended for a Toronto elementary school that Bolton directed to his own charity before he was elected a trustee in 2003. (

Reports in the business section:

* Magna International Inc is putting the brakes on building new plants in Canada as it takes advantage of better opportunities abroad where vehicle production is growing. "I doubt we'll add any more plants in Canada," Magna Chief Executive Don Walker said at the company's annual meeting in Toronto. (


* U.S. investigators have uncovered a multi-million-dollar synthetic drug ring allegedly operated by a single Canadian family. For five years, father-son team Daniel and Kevin Louie, along with family matriarch Francine, funneled "tens of millions of dollars" in chemical supplies to the U.S. synthetic drug industry, according to a statement by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. (

* A 36-year-old Suncor employee was killed by a black bear at one of Canada's major oilsands sites. Lorna Weafer, an instrument technician, was doing electrical work at a job site near Fort McMurray, Alberta, when the bear attacked her. Suncor said the employees were working in a busy industrial area and were not carrying bear spray. (


* Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc is slowly ramping up steps to engage the board of Botox-maker Allergan Inc in takeover talks, insisting it is "highly confident" that its efforts will result in a merger between the two companies. (

* A Unilever PLC plant in Bramalea, Ontario, which makes dry mixes for soups, sauces and other foods, will close and its production capability will be shipped to the United States, the company announced on Thursday. Most production is expected to finish by the end of next year, with the final plant closure expected in March 2016. (




- The Securities Association of China said in its 2014-2020 work report that it aims to accelerate the development of private securities institutions and regulate the development of private equity markets.

- Chinese film production company Huayi Brothers Media Corp said it plans to release 32 new films this year and next, aiming for more than 10 billion yuan ($1.61 billion) in box office revenue.


- Chinese taxi operator Dazhong Transportation Group said it is in talks with U.S. electric car maker Tesla Motor Inc on possible cooperation in car leasing business.

- The Shanghai government is reviewing the current list of prohibited investments in the free-trade zone and aims to reduce the number of businesses currently banned from setting up in the zone. The government has already drawn up a framework for financial reform and has started introducing number of new financial rules.


- The government of China's southwestern city of Chongqing unveiled plans to give private capital access to two-thirds of the city's state-owned enterprises over the next three to five years.


- A major construction project for the TransAsian Railway Network that will help link China's Yunnan province to Myanmar will commence work in China in June, said a senior rail expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineers. Three rail lines that link China to Southeast Asian nations are included in the central government's medium and long-term railway network plan and preliminary work has already begun.


- The volume and value of land sales in Shanghai rose notably in the first four months of this year after commodity housing plots more than doubled, according to an industry report. Land parcels of 3.6 million square metres, including those designated for affordable housing purposes, were sold n the city, up 24.6 percent year on year.

- Some 68 types of antibiotics have been detected in China's surface water, a consequence of the country's chronic overuse of drugs, according to a report by Beijing's Tsinghua University.



The Telegraph


Omnicom's $35 billion merger with Publicis that would have created the world's largest advertising company has been called off, according to reports. (


Apple is in talks with headphone maker Beats Electronics over a $3.2 billion takeover that would rank as the iPhone giant's largest ever, according to reports. (

The Guardian


Former science minister Lord Sainsbury has launched a blistering attack on Pfizer's 63 billion pound takeover move on AstraZeneca, calling on the government to block its attempt to "dismember" a strategically important British company. (


Independent booksellers are being sent reinforcements in the battle against Amazon with a website that will support the dwindling band of high street traders, backed by the world's largest publisher. (

The Times


Investors staged this year's biggest rebellion yet against excessive boardroom rewards by casting a substantial vote against pay proposals at Standard Chartered on Thursday. (


Leading Democrats in America are threatening legislation that could scupper Pfizer's 63 billion pound takeover of AstraZeneca by preventing the U.S. company from shifting its tax domicile to Britain. (

Sky News


Barclays has confirmed around 20,000 job cuts under a new strategy that distances it from the 'casino banking' championed by former boss, Bob Diamond. (


The regional newspaper publisher which owns The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post is closing in on a financial restructuring that could involve raising as much as 140 million pound of new equity. (


Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot

Domestic economic reports scheduled today include:
Wholesale trade inventories for March at 10:00--consensus up 0.5%



Bonanza Creek (BCEI) assumed with a Buy from Hold at Brean Capital
Covanta (CVA) upgraded to Overweight from Equalweight at Barclays
DISH (DISH) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Raymond James
Fly Leasing (FLY) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Intersil (ISIL) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Citigroup
Lionbridge (LIOX) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at B. Riley
Louisiana-Pacific (LPX) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Longbow
Northern Trust (NTRS) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Evercore
Occidental Petroleum (OXY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Paylocity (PCTY) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Suburban Propane (SPH) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse
Tower Group (TWGP) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Keefe Bruyette
Triangle Capital (TCAP) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital
Twitter (TWTR) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill
Valley National (VLY) upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at Raymond James
Vitamin Shoppe (VSI) upgraded to Overweight from Equalweight at Barclays
WPX Energy (WPX) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank


Ameren (AEE) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
Apple (AAPL) downgraded to Buy from Strong Buy at ISI Group
Comstock Resources (CRK) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital
Diamondback Energy (FANG) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Roth Capital
Liquidity Services (LQDT) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Molycorp (MCP) downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Niska Gas (NKA) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman
ON Semiconductor (ONNN) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup
PROS (PRO) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at Pacific Crest
RenaissanceRe (RNR) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Rocket Fuel (FUEL) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital
Rocket Fuel (FUEL) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Roundy's (RNDY) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Southwest Gas (SWX) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Brean Capital
Tenaris (TS) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley
Teradata (TDC) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel
Wisconsin Energy (WEC) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at UBS


Avago (AVGO) reinstated with an Overweight at Barclays
Callon Petroleum (CPE) assumed with a Buy at Brean Capital
Laredo Petroleum (LPI) assumed with a Buy at Brean Capital
New Oriental Education (EDU) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorgan


Omnicom (OMC) and Publicis (PUBGY) agree to terminate proposed merger of equals; Omnicom said challenges outweigh benefits of Publicis merger
News Corp. (NWSA) reported profit and revenue that was better than expected and named William Lewis CEO of Dow Jones, removing his interim title
Radioshack (RSH) scaled back its store closure plans
Gap (GPS), which reported Q1 revenue that beat expectations, said April  SSS grew 9%
Symantec (SYMC) reported profit that beat estimates on sales that slightly missed expectations and said it is continuing to look for a permanent CEO
Polypore (PPO) reported earnings that just missed expectations and announced a long-term lithium separator supply agreement with Panasonic (PCRFY)


Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Horizon Pharma (HZNP), Hilton (HLT), Pan American Silver (PAAS), Consolidated Edison (ED), TPG Specialty Lending (TSLX), National Fuel (NFG), Canadian Natural (CNQ), BPZ Resources (BPZ), Ormat Technologies (ORA), Nelnet (NNI), Net 1 UEPS (UEPS), Rocket Fuel (FUEL), Callon Petroleum (CPE), EnerNOC (ENOC), The Advisory Board (ABCO), Ubiquiti Networks (UBNT), AcelRx (ACRX), Power Solutions (PSIX), Athersys (ATHX), Alimera Sciences (ALIM), Paylocity (PCTY), PROS (PRO), CTPartners (CTP), Echelon (ELON), Main Street (MAIN), Pixelworks (PXLW), Universal Display (OLED), Sonic Foundry (SOFO), GrubHub (GRUB), PharmAthene (PIP), XO Group (XOXO), Encore Capital (ECPG), BioAmber (BIOA), MercadoLibre (MELI), Mettler-Toledo (MTD), Nuance (NUAN), Air Lease (AL), Performant Financial (PFMT), Alexander & Baldwin (ALEX), American Public Education (APEI), Salix (SLXP), Diodes (DIOD), Monster Beverage (MNST), News Corp. (NWSA), Envestnet (ENV), Stifel Financial (SF), Tuesday Morning (TUES), Spectrum (SPPI), CBS (CBS), Symantec (SYMC)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:

UCP, Inc. (UCP), Cal Dive (DVR), BioScrip (BIOS), Silver Standard (SSRI), Post Holdings (POST), Darling (DAR), Great Plains Energy (GXP), Alaska Communications (ALSK), Full Circle Capital (FULL), Rose Rock Midstream (RRMS), Northern Oil and Gas (NOG), Denison Mines (DNN), Third Point Reinsurance (TPRE), AuRico Gold (AUQ), Ensign Group (ENSG), SemGroup (SEMG), Verastem (VSTM), Kemper (KMPR), GAIN Capital (GCAP), XenoPort (XNPT), Approach Resources (AREX), Regulus Therapeutics (RGLS), Medivation (MDVN), Points International (PCOM), Flexion (FLXN), Zogenix (ZGNX), Polypore (PPO), Ascent Capital Group (ASCMA), ChemoCentryx (CCXI), Erickson Air-Crane (EAC), Smith Micro (SMSI), Nuverra Environmental (NES), Q2 Holdings (QTWO), Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ), Tangoe (TNGO), TearLab (TEAR), Orexigen (OREX), Clovis (CLVS), ImmunoCellular (IMUC), Manitex (MNTX), Hill International (HIL), Amyris (AMRS), Air Methods (AIRM), Scientific Games (SGMS), Arabian American Development (ARSD), Five Prime (FPRX), Emeritus (ESC), Cutera (CUTR), Emergent BioSolutions (EBS), bebe stores (BEBE), Haynes (HAYN), Ring Energy (REI),  FX Energy (FXEN), Gaiam (GAIA)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:

Stratasys (SSYS), Globe Specialty Metals (GSM), Entravision (EVC), Demand Media (DMD), TransAtlantic Petroleum (TAT), Adept Technology (ADEP), Ziopharm (ZIOP), Shutterstock (SSTK), Colony Financial (CLNY), Uni-Pixel (UNXL), Clean Energy (CLNE), Applied Optoelectronics (AAOI), Brooks Automation (BRKS), Boingo Wireless (WIFI), Allscripts (MDRX), Jamba (JMBA)


Apple (AAPL) in talks to buy Beats Electronics for $3.2B, FT says
athenahealth (ATHN) CEO says Einhorn has 'misunderstanding' of company, WSJ reports
After Omnicom (OMC) deal falls apart, Publicis (PUBGY) CEO says board backs him, Reuters says
Yahoo's (YHOO) plans to buy NDN have stalled, Re/code reports
Beats' Iovine in talks to become 'special adviser' to Apple (AAPL) CEO, NY Post says
Citigroup (C) must face lawsuit over CDOs, Bloomberg says
Credit Suisse (CS) says will work with U.S. to resolve tax issue, WSJ reports
Mitsubishi UFJ (MTU) said to mull offer for BNY's (BK) trust division, Bloomberg says
Nokia's (NOK) Lumia photography lead Partinen moving to Apple (AAPL), The Verge reports


Alcentra Capital (ABDC) 6.667M share IPO priced at $15.00
Atlas Resource Partners (ARP) 13.5M share Secondary priced at $19.90
Comstock Mining (LODE) files to sell common stock
DST Systems (DST) 5.357M share Secondary priced at $84.00
Diamond Foods (DMND) files to sell 4.45M shares of common stock
PBF Logistics (PBFX) 13.75M share IPO priced at $23.00
Pattern Energy (PEGI) 18.4M share Secondary priced at $27.75
Stone Energy (SGY) 5M share Secondary priced at $41.00 (TOUR) 8M share IPO priced at $9.00


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