Opening Bell: 10.30.06

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Yahoo's Dilemma: Deal Or No Deal (CNNMoney)
Yahoo's been getting some bad advice from the media. Everybody knows that it's in danger of seriously falling behind Google in the internet wars, and that it needs something to jumpstart its growth again. Unfortunately, as it puts its ears to the track, all it hears is people talking about how it needs to buy out this or that company. Sorry, but a buyout of some piddly hot startup, even a decent-size hot startup isn't really going to change things for the company -- and they know it. Now it's being reported that the company recently held discussions, or tried to hold them, about a possible buyout of AOL. Now on what planet is the key to reviving a dying brand buyout a dead brand? Other than the price tag, such a move wouldn't seem much smarter than the last time AOL got bought out.
Online gambling firms in £1.6bn merger talks (The Guardian)
Two major online gambling firms are considering a merger in the wake of the US' "ban" on online gambling. The companies, Party Gaming and 888, are two of the more well-known online casinos, and see a possible tie-up as a good way of coping with the hard times. Both companies have taken major hits in the wake of the new laws. The whole thing's funny, since research done by the Opening Bell indicates that it's not too hard to find plenty of sites that are willing to take your bets. Apparently these guys really like to play it by the book.
Sarbanes-Oxley Brings American Firms Record IPO Earnings Abroad (Bloomberg)
Several have decried that Sarbanes-Oxley has contributed to an increase in foreign-listed IPOs, as companies avoid the regulatory burden associated with being listed here. But at least one sector hasn't seemed to mind, our great banks. As companies list in places like Hong Kong and London's AIM, American investment banks have seen their foreign operations surge. The major banks will collect $1.3 billion more in fees from these IPOs than they have in any other year. There are a lot of stories these days about how the US and New York is losing its role as the center of global finance. Good to know that the words Goldman Sachs are spoken at all corners of the globe.
Dodging Taxes Is a New Stock Options Scheme (NYT)
As if stock options weren't eyed suspiciously enough, a new scandal may be brewing. Great. This time it involved changing the date on options to avoid having to pay income tax. In other word, not only were options used to guarantee a profit, but they may have also been used for tax fraud. So far, executives at Symbol and Mercury Interactive have been associated specifically with such schemes, and here comes the widening net. If this goes anywhere, it could prove serious. Confusing options practices that skirt the edges of the law are one thing, robbing Uncle SAM of his hard-earned tax dollars is quite another.


ViaSat to Supply Broadband Equipment For Gulfstream Jets
In-flight internet access continues to be the impossible dream. If you're not flying Lufthansa, or first-class to Dubai, you've probably never checked your email from the sky -- making you part of the true mile-high club. Well, it doesn't look like it's going to come anytime soon. But if you have Gulfstream jet, you now have more options. California's ViaSat is offering to equip your plane for broadband internet, at a cheaper price than other existing services. Corporate jets today, jetBlue tomorrow, right?
Youth unemployment on rise around the world - ILO (Reuters)
And here we thought that child labor was a bad thing. Now a new International Labor Organization is out with a new report decrying the state of the global economy for youth, nothing that while people aged 15-24 make up a quarter of the world's population, they account for 44% of the unemployed. This number has risen steadily in recent years. But isn't this how it should be? Youth don't have much experience at things. They've never built a financial model. They don't know how to code in C++. So who's gonna hire them. Really, if they didn't have a high rate of unemployment, that'd be pretty strange.
Qantas orders more A380s (Business Times)
It's amazing that in spite of its troubles, Airbus is actually able to continue making order for the A380, its super jumbojet that's been plagued by delays. But Australia's Qantas has placed more orders for the planes, delivery date.... whenever, no big deal. The airline said it believes that the plane's production problems don't relate to any technical problems with the plane itself.
Suitors line up bids for Hard Rock Cafe - papers (Reuters)
Somehow this story seems like it should've been merged with the Yahoo buying AOL story above. The founder of MTV is at the head of a group looking to buy out the Hard Rock Cafe. We're just gonna leave it at that.
Schneider to Purchase American Power for $6.1 Billion (Bloomberg)
It's not much of a merger Monday today, but here's one. Schneider Electric SA announced it would buyout American Power Conversions Corp, a make of surge protectors for $6.1 billion. Now to those of you for whom APCC is not on your radar typically, would you have guessed that a surge protector company would be worth $6.1 billion? Now, granted, we're not just talking about the cheap $8 breaker bars that you get, though they make those too. But they sell some heavy duty items. Schneider Electric is a maker of circuit breaker (synergies galore, baby), and they provide service to champagne maker Veuve Cliquot -- how French.

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