Frontrunning: May 9

  • Borrowers Face Big Delays in Refinancing Mortgages (WSJ)
  • Greek left attacks ‘barbarous’ austerity (FT)
  • Would-be suicide bomber was U.S. informant (Reuters)
  • Cameron says Euro needs single government: report (Reuters)
  • Demonstrators targeting BofA annual meeting (Reuters)
  • Moody’s Bank Downgrades Risk Choking European Recovery (Bloomberg)
  • Lehman E-Mails Show Wall Street Arrogance Led to the Fall (Bloomberg)
  • What Hollande must tell Germany (Martin Wolf) (FT)
  • Why France Has So Many 49-Employee Companies (BusinessWeek)
  • Hollande at odds with key partners on structural reform (FT)
  • Sinn Féin joins Ireland’s austerity backlash (FT)

Overnight press digest:


* The supposed bomber in a foiled plot by al Qaeda's Yemeni branch to bring down a U.S. jet was actually a double agent for U.S. and Arab intelligence agencies.

* JPMorgan Chase said it will start selling prepaid debit cards in its 5,541 branches this summer, accelerating the banking industry's push to generate revenue with new fee-based consumer products.

* The chief executive of British insurance group Aviva resigned, becoming the latest U.K. CEO to leave amid investor anger over pay.

* Carlos Slim offered $3.4 billion to increase his stake in ailing Dutch telecom Royal KPN, sparking speculation that the world's richest man could start to snap up beaten-down European assets.

* The 26 percent decline in prices over the past nine months has frustrated traders, farmers and meat processors, who have long anticipated a rebound.

* Rajat Gupta's lawyers have made another attempt to keep some secretly recorded telephone conversations out of his insider-trading trial later this month, saying the calls didn't include any discussion of tips by the former Goldman Sachs Group Inc director.

* Social-networking website Myspace settled allegations by the Federal Trade Commission that it deceived millions of its users by sharing their personal data with advertising companies, a practice reported on two years ago by The Wall Street Journal.

* Saudi Arabia reiterated Tuesday it is very well-equipped to fill any gap between global supply and demand thanks both to its ample spare crude-oil output capacity and oil stocks, but suggested that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries could potentially discuss a change to the group members' output when ministers meet next month.




Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecoms billionaire has signalled his intention to expand into Europe with a 3.2 billion euro ($4.16 billion) offer for a stake in KPN, the struggling Dutch telecoms operator.


A sophisticated cyber attack intended to gain access to U.S. natural gas pipelines has been under way for several months, the Department of Homeland Security has warned, raising fresh concerns about the possibility that vital infrastructure could be vulnerable to computer hackers.


Marubeni, the Japanese trading company, is in advanced talks to buy U.S.-based grain trader Gavilon in the latest sign of consolidation in the agribusiness industry, only weeks after Glencore purchased Canadian grain trader Viterra.


A sharp rise in fraudulent claims has pushed UK mobile phone network 3 to stop selling insurance, an unusual move underscoring the scale of customer deception facing mobile operators.


U.S. mobile network operators are seeking to differentiate themselves from rivals by emphasising the digital services they offer on top of their high-speed data networks - rather than the speed of the networks.


The chief financial officer of Thomas Cook is set to announce his departure as early as this week, even as shares in the debt-laden tour operator rose up to 18 percent following news that it had agreed a new financing package with its lenders.



* Yahoo Inc sought to contain the turmoil surrounding its Chief Executive, Scott Thompsons' embellished academic record on Tuesday, as the director who led the search for the executive said that she would not stand for re-election to the board.

* Continuing its crackdown on Internet privacy violations, the Federal Trade Commission charged Myspace on Tuesday with violating federal law by breaching its promise not to share users' personal information, including their Web browsing habits, with advertising companies.

* A growing number of Republican lawmakers are pressing Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint an independent counsel to investigate the collapse of MF Global and the firm's misuse of customer money.

* Green Mountain Coffee Roasters founder, Robert Stiller, lost his post as the chairman of the board on Tuesday after he sold five million shares, worth around $125.5 million, to pay off loans he had taken out against his sizable stock holdings in the company.




- The Alberta government has gone on the offensive against Europe's proposed fuel-quality directive with a new study that shows the oil sands production is only slightly more greenhouse-gas intensive than crudes already used in Europe.

Reports in the business section:

- The fevered pace of building in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal is fuelling fears that the condo market is dangerously close to overheating. A surge in condominium construction helped drive overall construction starts up 14 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 244,900, the highest since September, 2007, and an increase from the March pace of 214,800, according to data released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp on Tuesday.


- Canadians may soon be able to apply for passports that do not reveal their gender. "Passport Canada policy in relation to the gender indicated on passports is the subject of a review," reads a briefing note obtained by La Presse newspaper in an Access to


- It looks like the beginning of the end for shareholders of Yellow Media Inc as a group of bondholders have hired legal counsel and started preliminary talks with the company on refinancing that could see them win control of the phone directory publisher in exchange for writing down their debt.


European economic update:

  • UK BRC Sales Like-for-Like -3.3% y/y – lower than expected. Consensus 0.6% y/y. Previous 1.3% y/y.
  • Germany Trade Balance (EUR) 17.4B – higher than expected. Consensus 14.3B. Previous 14.9B.
  • Germany Current Account (EUR) 19.8B – higher than expected. Consensus 18.0B. Previous 11.7B.
  • France Trade Balance (EUR) -5721M – higher than expected. Consensus -6000M. Previous -6279M.
  • Greece CPI – EU Harmonized 1.5% y/y – higher than expected. Consensus 1.3% y/y. Previous 1.4% y/y.