Frontrunning: March 11
- Malaysia Says Stolen Passport User Had No Links to Terror Groups (BBG)
- Malaysia military tracked missing plane to west coast (Reuters)
- Freescale loss in Malaysia tragedy leads to travel policy questions (Reuters)
- Firms Suffer 23% Drop in Asia Fees Amid Search for Cash (BBG)
- Putin Dismisses U.S. Proposal on Ukraine (WSJ)
- Lenovo says China strike an IBM matter, but it won't cut wages (Reuters)
- Congress to Investigate GM Recall (WSJ)
- New hedge funds face life or death battle for funding (FT)
- Muni Bond Costs Hit Investors in Wallet (WSJ)
- BOJ keeps stimulus in place, cuts view on exports in warning sign (Reuters)
- ECB Homes In on Risky Assets as Inspectors Fan Out Across Europe (BBG)
- Snowden: "The Constitution was violated" (Reuters)
- Lloyds Trader Said to Tip Off BP to $500 Million FX Deal (BBG)
Overnight Media Digest
* GM faced new pressure from a powerful member of Congress to explain why it took nearly a decade to recall 1.6 million vehicles for faulty ignitions linked to 13 deaths, even as the auto maker hired a high-profile lawyer to lead its investigation.
* Although officials in Washington and Kabul often accuse Pakistan of being an unreliable ally, its army has lost roughly twice as many soldiers in the conflict with Taliban fighters as the U.S.
* Malaysian authorities said Monday that no debris from a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner had been recovered despite a massive air and sea search under way for passengers and remains of the plane.
* The investigation into passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines flight who were traveling with stolen passports has drawn attention to a thriving market for illicit documents and the disparity in aviation security across the globe.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin has apparently rejected a U.S. proposal to resolve the dispute over Ukraine that had been put forward by Secretary of State John Kerry over the past week, according to senior Russian and U.S. officials.
* Investors who put cash into municipal bonds, a popular strategy for those seeking safe, tax-free bets, are paying about twice as much in trading commissions as they would for corporate bonds, according to a study for the Journal.
* Chiquita of the U.S. and Fyffes of Ireland are merging to create the world's largest banana company, in an all-stock deal valued at about $1.07 billion.
* Virtu Financial Inc, one of the largest high-frequency trading firms, is seeking to raise $100 million in a public offering of its stock, according to a securities filing.
* Sprint Corp Chairman Masayoshi Son said in a television interview Monday that he would like to buy smaller rival T-Mobile US Inc, confirming his interest in a deal that would combine the country's No. 3 and No. 4 wireless companies and likely face heavy scrutiny from regulators.
* Longtime rivals Nasdaq OMX Group Inc and NYSE Euronext are joining forces in a bid to reclaim trading volumes from smaller competitors, according to people familiar with the matter.
The two firms are pushing for a controversial rule to be added to a pilot program under consideration by the Securities and Exchange Commission to widen tick sizes, or the increments between price quotes, for certain companies.
* EBay Inc formally rejected the two board nominees backed by activist investor Carl Icahn and reiterated its opposition to his proposal to spin off its PayPal subsidiary.
Billions of dollars were wiped off the market value of the world's biggest mining companies on Monday after fresh concerns about slowing demand from China prompted one of the steepest falls in the price of iron ore on record.
Private equity group Permira is looking to float Japanese agricultural chemicals company Arysta LifeScience on the New York Stock Exchange.
Trading firm Virtu Financial Inc plans to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering, the company said in a regulatory filing on Monday. People familiar with the firm's thinking said the 151-person company would raise as much as $250 million and give it a valuation of about $3 billion. Its founder, Vincent Viola, would see his roughly 68 per cent stake in the business valued at $2.04 billion.
Imperial Tobacco's electronic cigarette division has launched legal proceedings against nine of its US rivals that it alleges have encroached on its patents.
Nigerian oil company Seplat will announce on Tuesday a $350 million initial public offering in a dual listing on the London and Lagos stock exchanges.
* A House committee has started an investigation into the response by General Motors and federal safety regulators to complaints about faulty ignition switches that have been linked to 13 deaths, officials said on Monday.
* Myriad Genetics Inc has suffered a setback in its efforts to protect its main genetic test from competition. A federal judge on Monday denied Myriad's request for a preliminary injunction that would have immediately stopped a rival company, Ambry Genetics, from offering similar breast cancer tests.
* Puerto Rico is expected to sell about $3 billion in bonds on Tuesday at interest rates that are considerably lower than many investors in the municipal market had expected, providing a rare bright spot for the cash-squeezed island.
* The Blackstone Group and private equity firm TPG Capital are teaming up in a planned bid for manufacturing company Gates Global Inc, a person briefed on the matter said on Monday.
* The Obama administration on Monday withdrew a proposal that would have allowed insurers to limit Medicare coverage for certain classes of drugs, including those used to treat depression and schizophrenia, due to pressure from patients, pharmaceutical companies and members of Congress from both parties.
* General Electric Co Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt emphasized on the "culture of simplification", in a letter to shareholders published on Monday. The effort to simplify involves reducing the size of the finance unit, GE Capital.
GE Capital has been selling assets, including a Swiss subsidiary whose initial public offering created a $1 billion tax benefit in the fourth quarter of 2013.
* U.S. fruit firm Chiquita Brands acquired Irish rival Fyffes, which distributes fruits across Europe for about $526 million. The all-stock deal will combine Chiquita, with robust sales in the United States, with Fyffes, which is stronger in Europe, to create a global banana production and distribution company.
* Minerals Technologies said on Monday that it had won a bidding war for Amcol International Corp, agreeing to pay about $1.7 billion.
* Morgan Stanley Chief Executive James Gorman said in a television interview on Monday that he did not have a firm grasp of Bitcoin, which has been much in the news after the collapse of a major exchange, Mt. Gox, and after Newsweek claimed to have found the currency's creator.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
* Striking truckers choked off traffic almost entirely to Port Metro Vancouver on Monday after rejecting a back-to-work plan over the weekend, raising fears of price spikes if groceries and other goods sit on docks and waiting ships indefinitely.
Reports in the business section:
* Canada's first free-trade pact with an Asian nation promises to offer beef farmers, salmon fishermen and whisky makers a new toehold in South Korea by sweeping away virtually all border taxes in coming years. But it fails to secure some of the protections sought by vocal opponents in the auto industry, who immediately said Ottawa gave away too much.
* Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his South Korean counterpart announced early on Tuesday that the two countries have concluded a free-trade agreement that the Canadian government boasts will be a major boost for the country's exporters in the fast-growing Asian market, but detractors fear will damage Ontario's key economic auto industry.
* BlackBerry Ltd has sold its U.S. headquarters in Irving, Texas, to Brookfield Property Partners LP for an undisclosed amount, just months after the struggling smartphone maker announced it was selling the bulk of its Canadian real estate assets to shore up its cash position.
* HJ Heinz Co, the ketchup maker taken private by 3G Capital Inc and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc , paid Bernardo Hees $9.2 million in his first year as chief executive.
* Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp unveiled a plan on Monday to sell roughly 41 million shares of African Barrick Gold Plc to institutional investors, or 13.5 percent of its holdings.
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
-- An understanding between Beijing and pan-democrats that the method for electing the chief executive could be changed after universal suffrage is introduced in 2017 would create more room for compromise and avoid a "life-or-death" struggle, says a leading mainland expert on Hong Kong affairs. (link.reuters.com/xag57v)
-- Hong Kong textile manufacturers have signed a deal to set up their first industrial park in Yangon, which they expect will slash production costs by at least half. Workers at the 200-hectare facility in the former capital of Myanmar will be paid about a fifth of those employed in mainland factories. (link.reuters.com/zag57v)
-- The first residential project allotted solely to locals - One Kai Tak - will be available for sale by 2015, offering 1,179 flats. Only two pilot sites have been chosen so far for the "Hong Kong Property for Hong Kong People" scheme. (link.reuters.com/teg57v)
-- Work on the third runway at Hong Kong International Airport could begin as early as September, Airport Authority chief executive Stanley Hui Hon-chun said. The environmental assessment report will be submitted to the authorities by March-end and the permit is expected by September, he said. (link.reuters.com/meg57v)
-- There is still room for 4G service charges to fall in the mainland, China Mobile Guangdong branch head Zhong Tianhua said after the country's telecom regulator claimed such fees are too high. (link.reuters.com/reg57v)
HONG KONG ECONOMIC JOURNAL
-- Franshion Properties (China) Ltd said it was considering a seeking a separate listing of its hotel assets, comprising eight hotels in the mainland and ancillary businesses, on the Hong Kong bourse. Analysts estimate the assets could be worth about HK$20 billion ($2.58 billion).
-- Watchmaker and retailer Time Watch Investments Ltd expects its online sales to grow 60-100 percent for the fiscal year 2013/14 ending June, contributing to about 10 percent of its total revenue, according to chairman Tung Koon Ming.
MING PAO DAILY NEWS
-- Mattress maker Sinomax, which is seen to raise about HK$780 million in an initial public offering in Hong Kong, plans to open 10 lifestyle stores in the city and in mainland China before the end of this year, according to senior management.
-- Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd may declare a distribution of dividend for the first time when the casino operator releases its earnings next week, in a bid to lure more investment funds to invest in the company, analysts said.
REGULATOR TO FORCE SHAKE-UP OF PROFITABLE INSURANCE ADD-ON MARKET
The Financial Conduct Authority is to force a major shake-up of the 4 billion pound insurance add-on market, creating greater competition in what it perceives to be a "closed shop" sector.
GATWICK OFFERS COMPENSATION TO HOUSEHOLDS AFFECTED BY SECOND RUNWAY
Gatwick has raised the stakes in the battle for airport expansion in the Greater London area by offering compensation to households likely to be most affected if the go-ahead is given for a second runway.
MORE CO-OP EXECUTIVES MAY GET PAY TOP-UPS WHEN COMMITTEE MEETS
The board committee that sets pay at the troubled Co-operative Group is expected to meet this week to discuss extending controversial retention payments to more members of the newly assembled top management team.
BANKING BONUSES WORLDWIDE UP 29 PERCENT AS CITY OF LONDON FARES EVEN BETTER
The average bankers' bonus globally was 29 percent higher than a year ago, with those in the City of London higher than in other parts of the world, according to a survey by a leading careers website.
NATION'S NUMBER CRUNCHERS RED-FACED AGAIN
The Office for National Statistics was red-faced when it published a notice urging users of its data to treat its latest estimate for workers on zero-hour contracts with "due caution", pending the forthcoming publication of more reliable figures.
HELP TO BUY LIKELY TO BE CLOSED EARLY, LENDERS WARN
Three quarters of lenders believe that the 12 billion pound scheme, which can be used to buy first homes worth up to 600,000 pounds, will be withdrawn early or scaled down, according to the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association. It is due to last until 2016.
TRAVELEX SET FOR 1 BLN STG STOCK MARKET LISTING IN LONDON
Foreign currency specialist Travelex on Monday became the latest High Street giant to reveal it is considering a stock market flotation. The company, which provides cash and pre-paid cards to more than 37 million customers each year, ended months of speculation about its future plans by announcing it is looking at a 1 billion pound London listing.
Fidelity Criticises Pay 'Mess' At Barclays
Fund management giant Fidelity International has become the first big City institution to publicly criticise Barclays over its 2.4 billion pound bonus pot, intensifying the pressure on the bank ahead of a potentially-fiery annual meeting next month.
Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot
Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
NFIB small business optimism index for February at 7:30--consensus 93.8
Wholesale Trade Inventories for January at 10:00--consensus 0.4%
Altra Holdings (AIMC) upgraded to Buy from Hold at KeyBanc
Apple (AAPL) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at Pacific Crest
BNY Mellon (BK) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS
Bank of Ireland (IRE) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
CDW Corporation (CDW) upgraded to Conviction Buy from Buy at Goldman
Hospitality Properties (HPT) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Imperial Holdings (IFT) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital
InterMune (ITMN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
J.C. Penney (JCP) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Knightsbridge Tankers (VLCCF) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Evercore
Lonmin (lnmiy) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
Macy's (M) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) upgraded to Outperform at Wells Fargo
Wesco Aircraft (WAIR) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Aixtron (AIXG) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Exane BNP Paribas
Amedisys (AMED) downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer
Arotech (ARTX) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at B. Riley
Brookfield Renewable (BEP) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord
FMC Corporation (FMC) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
FMC Corporation (FMC) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Millicom (MIICF) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Northern Trust (NTRS) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at UBS
NxStage Medical (NXTM) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
State Street (STT) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS
Triumph Group (TGI) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
U.S. Bancorp (USB) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Keefe Bruyette
Unisys (UIS) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James
Vipshop (VIPS) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
AMD (AMD) initiated with a Buy at Ascendiant
Aeropostale (ARO) initiated with a Buy at Buckingham
Applied Micro Circuits (AMCC) initiated with a Buy at Ascendiant
Aruba Networks (ARUN) initiated with an Underperform at Bernstein
Cisco (CSCO) initiated with an Outperform at Bernstein
Destination XL (DXLG) initiated with a Buy at Canaccord
F5 Networks (FFIV) initiated with an Outperform at Bernstein
FLIR Systems (FLIR) initiated with an In-Line at Imperial Capital
GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) initiated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill
Immersion (IMMR) initiated with a Hold at Ascendiant
Infoblox (BLOX) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Inogen (ingn) initiated with an Outperform at Leerink
Inogen (ingn) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorgan
Intel (INTC) initiated with a Sell at Ascendiant
International Shipholding (ISH) initiated with an Outperform at Imperial Capital
InvenSense (INVN) initiated with a Hold at Ascendiant
Juniper (JNPR) initiated with a Market Perform at Bernstein
Magic Software (MGIC) initiated with an Equal Weight at Barclays
Neonode (NEON) initiated with a Buy at Ascendiant
RF Micro Devices (RFMD) initiated with a Buy at Ascendiant
Ruckus Wireless (RKUS) initiated with an Underperform at Bernstein
Skyworks (SWKS) initiated with a Buy at Ascendiant
Team Health (TMH) initiated with a Buy at UBS
Texas Instruments (TXN) initiated with a Buy at Ascendiant
TowerJazz (TSEM) initiated with a Buy at Ascendiant
TriQuint (TQNT) initiated with a Buy at Ascendiant
Ubiquiti Networks (UBNT) initiated with an Outperform at Bernstein
Yahoo (YHOO) named Alex Stamos as CISO
Bayer (BAYRY), Onyx (AMGN) reported Phase 3 study of Nexavar did not meet primary endpoint
Qualcomm (QCOM) named Derek Aberle as president
Document Security Systems (DSS) filed a patent claim against Samsung (SSNLF), Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM), and NEC Corporation of America
La Jolla Pharmaceutical (LJPC) announced that its Phase 2 trial of GCS-100 in chronic kidney disease reached its primary and key secondary endpoints
Activist hedge fund Elliott Associates disclosed a 4.99% stake in Boyd Gaming (BYD)
American Eagle Energy (AMZG) said it increased its interest in its Spyglass Area for a total consideration of $47M and said it plans capital spending of $86.1M in 2014
Honda (HMC) to create separate Acura, Honda divisions to spur sales
Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
E-House (EJ), Fontegra Financial (FRF), Atlas Financial (AFH), Douglas Dynamics (PLOW), Novavax (NVAX), LipoScience (LPDX), Medifast (MED), Limoneira (LMNR), Onconova (ONTX), PowerSecure (POWR), Urban Outfitters (URBN)
Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Gray Television (GTN), Sunshine Heart (SSH), Endeavour Silver (EXK), Park-Ohio (PKOH), Celluar Dynamics (ICELl), NMI Holdings (NMIH), Summit Midstream (SMLP), Fuel Tech (FTEK), Nuverra Environmental (NES), Dynavax (DVAX), Casey's General Stores (CASY)
Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
FuelCell (FCEL), United Natural Foods (UNFI)
Sprint's (S) Son confirms interest in buying T-Mobile (TMUS), WSJ reports
House Energy and Commerce Committee to look into General Motors (GM) recall, WSJ reports
Apple (AAPL) asks record labels for exclusive iTunes releases, LA Times reports
BHP Billiton (BHP) planning to sell West African iron ore assets, Australian Financial Review reports
Chobani working with Bank of America (BAC) to sell a 20% stake in the company that would value it at about $2.5B, Reuters reports
Sony (SNE), HTC and LG shifting to mid-range smartphone market, DigiTimes says
Judge denies Myriad Genetics (MYGN) request for injunction against rival, NY Times says
Access Midstream (ACMP) files to sell 8M common units for limited partners
American Eagle Energy (AMZG) files to sell 10M shares of common stock after split
China Recycling Energy (CREG) files to sell 8.77M shares of common stock for holders
ING U.S. (VOYA)files to sell $100M of common stock for holders
MakeMyTrip (MMYT) files to sell 3M shares of common stock for holders
Oxford Lane (OXLC) files to sell 2.35M shares of common stock
Post Holdings (POST) files to sell $250M senior notes, 4M shares of common stock
Stock Building Supply (STCK) files to sell 6.6M common shares for holders
Summit Midstream (SMLP) files to sell 8M common units for limited partners
Tekmira (TKMR) files to sell $60M of common stock
Vipshop (VIPS) files to sell 1.14M ADSs for holders