Frontrunning: November 27
- Winter storm lashes eastern U.S., threatens Thanksgiving travel (Reuters)
- Fed Reveals New Concerns About Long-Term U.S. Slowdown (BBG)
- Private equity keeps $789bn of powder dry (FT) - because they are "selling everything that is not nailed down"
- Merkel and SPD clinch coalition deal two months after vote (Reuters)
- Japan approves new state secrecy bill to combat leaks (BBC)
- CLOs are the new black: Volatile Loan Securities Are Luring Fund Managers Again (WSJ)
- Health website deadline nears (WSJ)
- Norway Debates $800 Billion Wealth Fund’s Investment Options (BBG)
- Set of global trade deals stalls (WSJ)
- Berlusconi To Learn Fate In Senate (Sky)
- Silvio Berlusconi withdraws support from Italy’s government (FT)
- Thai Politician Leads Protesters to Defy Government (WSJ)
- Iran Deal Ripples Felt From Syria War Zones to Saudi Palaces (BBG)
- Iran opens contacts with oil groups (FT)
- Soccer World Cup Stadium Costs Soar by $435 Million in Brazil (BBG)
Overnight Media Digest
* The Obama administration is moving to rein in the influence of tax-exempt groups in elections by creating rules to restrict their spending on a wide range of campaign-related activities.
* Cox Communications is considering jumping into the bidding for Time Warner Cable Inc according to people familiar with the situation, the latest twist in a fast-evolving takeover battle for the second-largest U.S. cable operator.
* Men's Wearhouse Inc launched a surprise offer to buy rival men's clothing retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc turning the tables on its erstwhile suitor in what has become one of the year's most colorful takeover dramas.
* Hewlett-Packard Co appeared to take a step forward in its latest turnaround effort with increased sales of corporate computers. But fiscal fourth-quarter revenue fell in each of its other units, highlighting ongoing challenges at the tech giant.
* After setting a deadline to fix the HealthCare.gov website, Obama administration officials have offered largely inexact measures of success. That has prompted Republicans to accuse the White House of moving the goal posts.
* Jon Horvath, the government's star witness against Michael Steinberg, testified for the first time Tuesday, setting the stage for what will be pivotal testimony in the insider-trading case against the veteran SAC Capital Advisors LP portfolio manager.
* Vivendi SA's board approved a plan to spin off its French telecommunication business next year and named top leaders to run the assets that will remain, pushing forward with its ambition to become a smaller media-focused firm.
* Investment funds aimed at individual investors are barreling into collateralized loan obligations, a complex and volatile type of security that was shaken by the financial crisis.
* The U.S. banking industry continued its recovery during the third quarter, reflecting the sector's gradual rebound from the financial crisis, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said.
Research group Preqin's data shows that private equity firms are holding more cash for acquisitions and the value of unspent commitments to private equity funds has increased 12 percent since December 2012.
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a crackdown on European Union immigration and said Europe has to reform to regain trust of its people.
The Serious Fraud Office may probe Royal Bank of Scotland under charges of criminal offence for systematically crushing smaller companies by forcing them out of business.
German power company RWE on Tuesday axed the 4 billion pound Atlantic Array project raising concerns over mixed signals that the UK energy policy was sending out to investors.
Spanish oil company Repsol has in principle agreed to accept a compensation of 5 billion pounds to settle dispute iver Argentine government's seizure of its majority stake in YPF, according to sources.
Job search portal Adzuna says an upturn in construction has boosted vacancies in the south, making nine cities out of ten in southern England the best to get jobs.
* On Tuesday, Men's Wearhouse abruptly turned the tables on Jos. A. Bank and bid $55 a share in cash to acquire its one-time suitor. It is rare for the prey to become the predator, a strategy that harks back to a 1980s corporate maneuver known as the Pac-Man defense.
* The star witness in the federal government's insider trading prosecution of Michael Steinberg, once a senior trader at SAC Capital Advisors, told a federal jury on Tuesday why he was cooperating with prosecutors and testifying at the trial.
* The International Monetary Fund, convinced that Europe erred in forcing debtor countries like Greece and Portugal to bear nearly all the pain of recovery on their own, is pushing hard for a plan that would impose upfront losses on bondholders the next time a country in the euro area requests a bailout.
* The Securities and Exchange Commission announced a pair of enforcement actions on Tuesday, accusing Swiss company Weatherford International of bribery and a Detroit money market fund of fraud.
* Alfred Feld, the longest-serving employee at Goldman Sachs , with more than 80 years of service at the Wall Street bank, died on Monday in Palm Beach, Florida. He was 98. Feld was listed as a Goldman employee up until his death, although in recent years he came to work infrequently.
* Take-Two Interactive Software announced on Tuesday that it had bought back the stake held by Carl Icahn, compelling the resignations of three board members he was allowed to appoint.
* Applied Systems, a software company that focuses on the insurance industry, said on Tuesday that it had agreed to be acquired by the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman in a deal valued at $1.8 billion. The company is being acquired from Bain Capital, which purchased it for about $675 million in 2006.
* The Carlyle Group said on Tuesday that it would acquire the Diversified Global Asset Management Corporation, an independent hedge fund manager, the latest push by Carlyle into areas beyond its core leveraged-buyout business.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
* Justin Trudeau is invoking the ghost of Jack Layton as he celebrates the Liberal Party's strong showing in a series of by-elections, inflaming tensions with the New Democratic Party (NDP) and foreshadowing more negative politics between now and the 2015 general election.
* Higher mortgage rates and house prices have eroded the affordability of Canadian homes for the second quarter in a row. But the impact was largely confined to the markets for detached bungalows and single-family homes, which are becoming more of an unaffordable luxury in many parts of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, Royal Bank of Canada's economics department suggests in a report to be released on Wednesday.
Reports in the business section:
* Sears Canada is laying off another 800 employees across its operations in the latest round of major cuts that have involved closing several of its highest profile department stores. The retailer said on Tuesday that most of the job losses would come from its repair parts and service business, where 712 staff are being eliminated over the next six months.
* While it continues to struggle in wealthier countries, BlackBerry Ltd is enjoying a surprising surge in Africa this year, offering a possible lesson in how the company could remain a competitive force in global markets with its cheaper devices.
* An Ontario judge has ordered mercy for Martin McSweeney, the traumatized ex-boyfriend of Paul Bernardo victim Leslie Mahaffy, after the 38-year-old's life descended into a legal nightmare that saw him lose his CSIS job and spend months in detention, all for allegedly sending an emotionally-charged message to his therapist.
* When all he wanted to do on Tuesday was raise his arms and hoist the C$5.2-billion ($4.9 billion) exclusive contract he had just announced with the NHL like it was a metaphorical Stanley Cup, Keith Pelley, president of Rogers Communications Inc's media business, was peppered with questions about what the deal would mean for Canada's media landscape.
* Real estate investment trusts, hampered by falling unit prices, have been squeezed out of the commercial property market over the last quarter by private investors, a new report shows.
CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL
- The tax bureau of Shenzhen, a major southern Chinese city, said some property developers have dodged taxes by inflating expenses.
- Several investors, including private equity firm CDH, are interested in buying a strategic stake in real estate developer Greenland Group ahead of its planned Shanghai/Hong Kong dual listing.
- Confucian thought, the basis of China's education system for two millennia until the early 20th century, can still play a positive role in China's development, President Xi Jinping said on a visit to the ancient sage's hometown on Tuesday.
- There were over 69 million retirees (excluding civil servants) on the Chinese mainland by the end of 2012, according to data from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. This was nearly double the figure in 2003.
CHINA BUSINESS NEWS
- China Mobile Ltd will launch 4G services next month, and will launch a new brand specifically for 4G.
- Microsoft had ended its partnership with TOM Online and will launch Skype services in China with new partner Guangming Founder.
- China's legal students and lawyers must learn from studying the people in order to contribute to building a legally governed socialist nation, an editorial in the official paper said.
Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot
HP (HPQ) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Evercore
Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS) upgraded to Neutral from Underweight at Piper Jaffray
LATAM Airlines (LFL) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/Merrill
Pzena Investment (PZN) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
UBS (UBS) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Analog Devices (ADI) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Drexel Hamilton
Copa Holdings (CPA) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at UBS
Denny's (DENN) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Janney Capital
Intel (INTC) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
OGE Energy (OGE) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
Signature Bank (SBNY) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee
TiVo (TIVO) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Evercore
Tilly's (TLYS) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at William Blair
Tilly's (TLYS) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Altisource Residential (RESI) initiated with a Buy at Deutsche Bank
Cedar Fair (FUN) initiated with an Outperform at FBR Capital
Chimerix (CMRX) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Insmed (INSM) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Merchant Bancshares (MBVT) initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee
Nektar (NKTR) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Oi S.A. (OIBR) initiated with an Outperform at Bernstein
Qunar (QUNR) initiated with a Hold at Deutsche Bank
Repros Therapeutics (RPRX) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Ruckus Wireless (RKUS) initiated with a Buy at Stifel
SeaWorld (SEAS) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital
Six Flags (SIX) initiated with a Market Perform at FBR Capital
HP (HPQ) CEO Whitman said turnaround remains on track heading into fiscal 2014
Burger King (BKW) established JV with Groupe Olivier Bertrand in France
Crocs (CROX) said to be in discussions with Blackstone (BX), other firms, Bloomberg reports
Archer Daniels (AADM) announced enhanced commitments for GrainCorp acquisition
GNC Holdings (GNC) announced $500M share repurchase authorization
CME Group (CME) sold NYMEX building to Brookfield Office (BPO) for $200M
Frontline (FRO) won’t pay a dividend for Q3
Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
Frontline (FRO), Shanda Games (GAME), AeroVironment (AVAV), Zale (ZLC), Infoblox (BLOX), Tilly's (TLYS), HP (HPQ), TiVo (TIVO), Analog Devices (ADI)
- Amec is looking to acquire Foster Wheeler (FWLT), the London Times reports
- Sinopec (SHI), China's largest refiner, is in early talks with Apache (APA) to buy a minority stake in a LNG project called Kitmat on Canada's Pacific coast, sources say, the Wall Street Journal reports
- Amid all the talk about consumers moving away from old-school TV and towards streaming services, TiVo (TIVO) is still adding customers wanting to watch regular old TV, albeit with a digital twist. The company showed no signs of slowing growth in Q3 as it reported a big jump in subscriptions despite an increasing list of competitors, the Wall Street Journal reports
- Danaher Corp. (DHR) and Blackstone Group (BX) are pursuing a joint bid for chemicals manufacturer Ashland’s (ASH) water technologies unit, sources say, in a deal that could top $1.5B, Reuters reports
- Global banks and asset managers (GS, UBS) are opening hedge funds in Asia for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, putting pressure on smaller firms that are already struggling to hold onto investors, Bloomberg reports
- International anger over the NSA’s Internet surveillance is hurting global sales by American technology companies and setting back U.S. efforts to promote Internet freedom. Disclosures of spying abroad may cost U.S. companies (IBM, INTC, AAPL, GOOG, CSCO) as much as $35B in lost revenue through 2016, Bloomberg reports
Acasti Pharma (ACST) files to sell common units and warrants
Global Brass & Copper (BRSS) files to sell 7.31M shares for holders
Pinnacle Foods (PF) files to sell 17M shares for holders