Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 05.30.14

Ballmer’s $2 Billion Offer Said to Win Clippers Bidding (Bloomberg)
Donald Sterling’s approval wasn’t needed as his wife completed the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer, people familiar with the process said. Guidelines established in a family trust allowed for Shelly Sterling to unilaterally make the record-shattering deal, according to the people who asked not to be identified because the bidding was private…Ballmer, 58, outbid at least four other suitors. Each of the bids shattered the previous record sale price for an NBA team of $550 million paid in April for the Milwaukee Bucks.

M&A Party Attracts Uninvited Guests (WSJ)
As merger activity heats up this year, hostile or unsolicited approaches by companies undeterred by private brushoffs are also rising. Buyers have gone public with unsolicited takeover bids totaling $97.3 billion so far this year, representing about 7% of all global deals by dollar amount, according to Thomson Reuters. That’s the highest percentage since 2007.

U.S. probing 15 banks, payment processors for fraud (Reuters)
The Justice Department’s investigation, known as “Operation Choke Point,” is more than a year old and aims to crack down on fraud by going after firms that handle and move money for various suspect businesses. According to documents released on Thursday by the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee, the DOJ had criminal probes open of four payment processors, one bank and several officials as of November 2013.

Kentucky’s Big Whiskey Investment: Is the Bourbon Boom a Bubble? (Corporate Intelligence)
A bourbon shortage today reflects decisions made many years — or decades — ago, leaving companies with few good options. Last year Beam Inc. faced a furious backlash from fans of its Maker’s Mark brand when the company said it would reduce the strength of the spirit to make limited supplies stretch further. It eventually backtracked on the decision, but not before panicking customers stockpiled supplies of the bourbon, sending sales up 44% in the quarter. Today’s big distillery expansions will put a flood of new bourbon on the market years from now. Will we still be drinking bourbon by then? Julian Proctor Van Winkle, the chief of the family business that makes Pappy Van Winkle, explained why his company is taking a conservative approach to adding capacity. “They legalize marijuana, and nobody is drinking bourbon anymore,” he said in an interview with Louisville Magazine. ”I don’t want to get caught with a bunch of whiskey.”

Realty Investors Flock to Spain (NYT)
As one of the most moribund housing markets in Europe, Spain has become a magnet for global bargain hunters. Real estate prices are down as much as 50 percent from their peak during a housing bubble, and investors from Asia to the United States and Britain are flocking to Spain to try to catch the uptick. British Airways flights to Madrid are packed with London-based real estate executives. The hedge fund Baupost is buying shopping centers, Goldman Sachs and Blackstone are buying apartments in Madrid, and Paulson & Company and George Soros’s fund are anchor investors in a publicly listed Spanish real estate investment vehicle. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts just bought a stake in a Spanish amusement park complex. Big-name private equity firms and banks are teaming up with and competing against one another on huge loan portfolios with names like Project Hercules and Project Octopus. “It’s surreal,” said Dilip Khullar, a 25-year veteran of Spanish real estate investing and director of Cadena, an investment fund. “One day it’s the worst place in the world to buy real estate and the next, it’s the best.”

UC Irvine Gives Anteaters ‘Superfan’ the Boot (WSJ)
A small crowd of UC Irvine parents and alumni cheered for their Anteaters. But the applause was drowned out by the hoots and hollers of one fan who looked like a California-bred cave man. He was deeply tanned, with thick, cascading blond hair, and wore a full get-up of UC Irvine gear—including fingernails painted in the team’s signature blue and gold colors. “‘Eaters in the house!” he yelled. The rabid reaction came from Keith Franklin, known around UC Irvine as “Superfan.” He has been a zany fixture at the team’s Anteater Ballpark, often clawing the net behind home plate, since 2006. He has nicknames for the players, and knows their statistics and families as if they were his own. Beyond his loud vocal stylings, Superfan is known for a repertoire of stadium theatrics. He has a special cheer for each batter, as well as for every run scored. He also celebrates with physical gusto, high-fiving people up and down rows of seats, even headbanging over the dugout. At dire moments when a run is sorely needed, he calls on the crowd to join him in breaking wind to spark a rally. Those days may be over. Mr. Franklin has been effectively banned from the team’s home games, which means he can only cheer the Anteaters at road contests…Superfan’s antics finally backfired several months ago, after some fans complained, according to the university. Security guards started asking him to behave, as Mr. Franklin recalls it, like “an ordinary fan.” […] Mr. Franklin’s official ejection has many of UC Irvine’s former players crying foul. They say he had a habit of showing up in unexpected places to shore up the team. He made it onto the field after two UC Irvine players, Matt Summers and Andrew Thurman, pitched no-hitters in recent seasons. He helped with chores like unspooling the stadium’s tarp over the infield. Once, he appeared on campus at 2 a.m. to welcome the Anteaters home after a road trip.

Silicon Valley May Be in a Bubble, but It’s Not 2000 (The Upshot)
Mary Meeker says Silicon Valley is not in a bubble. Ms. Meeker, the venture capitalist and former tech stock analyst, has made an annual tradition out of the release of her slide show of Internet trends. Hovering over her projections this year — of smartphone and tablet use; China’s embrace of technology; and mobile advertising — was the question of The Bubble…Ms. Meeker has summoned a series of charts to make her case. She displayed three slides illustrating that the tech industry is nowhere near the era just ahead of the dot-com crash. Technology companies’ market value is only 19 percent of the S&P 500’s valuation, as opposed to 35 percent on March 10, 2000, the peak of the last tech bubble. The venture capital financing of start-ups is at 1998 levels and 77 percent below the 2000 peak.

Geneva, Dubai Rank as Priciest Cities in World for Hotels (Bloomberg)
Geneva, Dubai and Miami…rank among the most expensive markets for hotel rooms, according to an index compiled by Bloomberg. In Geneva, the average cost for a night is $308, followed by Dubai at $273, Kuwait City at $253 and Zurich at $250. Miami is next as the costliest place for lodging in the U.S., at $245 a night.

Why John Mack left Rosneft after only a year (NetNet)
A year after joining the Russian government-owned petroleum company Rosneft as a director, former Morgan Stanley chief executive John Mack is stepping down from it. In an interview, Mack said his resignation, which comes a month after the U.S. sanctioned Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin over Russia’s handling of the turmoil in Ukraine, had nothing to do with geopolitics. “There was no pressure from the government,” he told CNBC. “I just didn’t have the time anymore.”

Woman Arrested For Threatening To Shoot Up A Burger King Over Stale Cinnabon Roll (TSG)
South Carolina police today announced the arrest of a woman who allegedly threatened to “shoot down” a Burger King after she received a stale Cinnabon roll earlier this month. Andrea Ann McCullough, 33, was nabbed yesterday on a misdemeanor assault charge in connection with the May 13 incident at the eatery in Mount Pleasant, a Charleston suburb. According to police, McCullough quarreled with Burger King workers when she discovered that her Cinnabon roll was not fresh. The 7 PM dispute escalated, with McCullough threatening, “I’m going to shoot down the place.” After employees said they were calling police, McCullough and two female companions fled the restaurant’s parking lot in a Dodge Charger. McCullough’s eventual apprehension was aided by Burger King workers who were able to record the getaway car’s license plate number.

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20 Responses to “Opening Bell: 05.30.14”

  1. Quant me maybe... says:

    "Ballmer’s $2 Billion Offer Said to Win Clippers Bidding"

    <1/4 what Microsoft paid for skype
    <1/5 what HP paid for Autonomy
    1/8 what Facebook paid for WhatsApp

    >> That's pretty conservative bidding by a tech ceo.

  2. Guest says:

    Isn't Ballmer responsible for Windows 8? How is this dude not in jail?

  3. HotKarl says:

    We remain staunch supporters of the American people's liberty and freedom to 'shoot down the place' when confronted with the tyranny of stale Cinnabon rolls.

    – Wayne LaPierre, NRA

  4. N. Big says:

    if you got a gun up in yo waist
    please don't shoot up the place, why?
    'cause i see some ladies tonite that aint eatin no pastry,
    pastry. uh.

  5. Guest says:

    Dodge Charger…. shocking

  6. Hold Me Now says:

    Looks like Creed's lead singer

  7. Guest says:

    Ovama, vama, vanana.

  8. E. Texas Gas Trader says:

    "…At dire moments when a run is sorely needed, he calls on the crowd to join him in breaking wind to spark a rally…."

    That's what they used to do at Eastex when they needed the natural gas market to move in a direction that would benefit their book.

  9. Florida says:

    @ Cinnabon hoe,

    We would like to offer you a free lifetime supply of cinnabons in exchange for exclusive rights to your residence in our state.

  10. guest says:

    excellent showing by the commentariat today.

    -guy who gives credit where credit is due