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Opening Bell: 11.20.06

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Freeport-McMoRan Buying Copper Giant (AP)
After attempting a number of acquisitions over the summer, all of which were unsuccessful, copper giant Phelps Dodge itself has agreed to be acquired in a deal that values the company at $25.9 billion. The acquirer, smaller rival Freeport-McMoRan agreed to pay a 30% premium over Friday's closing price, which should make shareholders quite pleased. Right now it's a rare moment, as both sides agree, and there's no third party waiting in the wings looking to ruin the good times. But if we go all the way to early 2007, when the deal is expected to close, and nobody tries to disrupt the fun, we'll be rather surprised.
Blackstone to buy Equity Office (Reuters)
In another record-breaking private equity deal, Blackstone has agreed to buy office building owner Equity Office Partners, one of the country's largest REITs. With debt, the deal comes to $36 billion, topping the HCA buyout, which clocked in at $33 billion. There have been a number of REIT buyouts over the last half year, and EOP had been considered a candidate for some time. Blackstone hopes to combine EOP's operations and assets with other office properties that it has acquired.
Trouble in Toyland (WSJ)
The Christmas shopping season sorta makes you wonder whether the market economy is all it's cracked up to be. it seems to be plagued by shortages and long lines, even as retailers pull out all the stops to slash prices. Even the emergence of internet shopping, which should ease the burden on physical stores, doesn't seem to have done a whole lot. Although the internet does at least allow the true market-clearing price of some goods to be revealed, as eBay sellers aren't constrained by some artificial MSRP. The PS3, for example, can be had for about $2700, a price that John Edwards can afford, allowing him to not go to Wal-Mart. So, the official word is, expect more of the same. Shortages, anger, upset kids, and a generally ruined Christmas.
Nasdaq bids over $5B for LSE (Reuters)
The NASDAQ made yet another volley in the battle to create a global stock exchange conglomerate, bidding over $5 billion for the London Stock Exchange. Everybody wants a piece of London. No wonder Chuck Schumer is worried that London is the new New York. But don't expect the NASDAQ to take it in a cakewalk. Already, shares of the LSE have risen above the latest offer, meaning traders strongly suspect another offer is in the works. Of course, the NASDAQ might be ok with that. It already owns 25% of the LSE, so it stands to profit if a bidding war emerges, and it loses it.

U.S. and Russia Sign Accord on W.T.O. Membership (NYT)
Despite the fact that it regularly seizes the assets of companies whose politics aren't aligned with Putin's, Russia can be a partner for free trade. After years and years of negotiations, the US has finally signed off on Russia's entry into the WTO. It's not the US' sole choice, of course. It has to hammer out agreements with all the WTO members, before it can join the not-so-exclusive club. Certainly allowing free trade and a transparent economy doesn't seem to be on the list. If anything it's the opposite. You get the bad, state-controlled economies to join, in hopes that membership will "bring them around". That seems to be the idea with China. Of course, Russia's entry isn't in the bag just yet. Word is that the neighboring nation of Georgia may seek to block it. Oooh, payback baby.
Another rollout set for $1 coins (AP)
The $1 coin has always been a disappointment. Basically, Americans like denominations of $1 and up in paper. Coins of high value are as anathema as coins with holes in the middle, which if those were to be adopted here would be a sure sign of economic decline. This time, The Mint hopes the coins will prove popular due to a new scheme to rotate which President appears on the face of the coin. Starting with George Washington, a new President will appear every three months, until we exhaust the supply of Presidents who have been dead at least two years. Weird, that means Nixon's gonna be on a coin. Reagan too, which conservatives will love.
176 Newspapers to Form a Partnership With Yahoo (NYT)
Yahoo bashing has become something of a sport lately, with everyone taking turns explaining how the company is screwed/lost its way/a lot lamer than Google/possibly even lamer than Microsoft. The attack dogs have done such a good job dragging the Yahoo name through the mud, that news of a deal between a group of newspapers and Yahoo, just sounds like a morbid party of losers, whether that's true or not ("they did a deal... with them?", with they and them being either side of your choosing).
Homosexuality and Income Inequality (Cafe Hayek)
Bottom line: if you're repulsed by income inequality and want to do something to change it, you're basically the same as a homophobe.