Opening Bell: 11.27.06

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Eurotunnel gets two offers to subscribe loan (Reuters)
Everybody knows that infrastructure investments are hot these days. Ports? Everybody's buyin' em. Toll roads? Talk about barriers to entry. One piece of infrastructure that will never be rebuilt, and will always be a monopoly for the rest of its existence is the Chunnel, the only piece of infrastructure that doubles as a punchline, unless you count the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and even then, that's only a punchline in civil engineering circles. So now the Chunnel is restructuring, and everyone is clamoring to finance its debt. And if the debt deal falls through, it'll have to sell out. And you can imagine there'll be a major bidding war for it. Oh, it would be great if an American bank controlled the only physical link between the UK and France. Somehow we imagine the EU would have something to say about it.
Black Friday weekend: Strong start (CNNMoney)
Alright, go team! Blame the wealth effect, from a strong stock market, but it looks as though (after some initial results), that the holiday shopping season is off to a strong start. According to the National Retail Federation, sales at retailers were up 18% over last year. Although, the retailers had to do some pretty deep discounting in order to secure the sales. And what if these sales eat into those on Cyber Monday, then all the in-store sales might not do much for total holiday revenue. Still, if things do work out, you've gotta wonder about all those "Joe six-pack buys flatscreen TVs by dipping into his home equity line, which is basically just an ATM" pronouncements we've been hearing for so long.
Bharti and Wal-Mart in retail tie-up (Reuters)
Restrictions on FDI are a clever way for a developing countries to subsidize local companies. But it's not necessary how you think. It's not that they benefit from the lack of competition, per se (though they may), but foreign firms have to grovel at their altar and sign JV deals in order to get access to the market. Bharti, a telecom firm in India, announced a JV with Wal-Mart to open up stores in India. You might wonder what a telecom is doing opening up a store. Wal-Mart is probably wondering the same thing: why are we dealing with a telco, they can't possibly offer us too much? But, when the local brands hold the keys to market access, you got a get in bed with strange bedfellows.
Very Rich Are Leaving the Merely Rich Behind (NYT)
Just last week, we were noting that the class war between the rich and the really rich was getting a lot of attention these days. We're not sure why now, though. Maybe, the class warfare crowd thinks it can enlist the merely rich over to its cause, by reminding them that there are others who are richer than them. After all, Barbara "Nickel & Dimed" Ehrenrich recently announced plans to put together a union ow white collar workers (yeah, that'll fly). The New York Times is on the story now, and notes, well, that some people are really rich, and some others. Not clear exactly what the point or the problem is, but who knows, maybe the merely rich will get into progressive politics now.


HoneyBaked Foods Inc. Recalls Some Ham and Turkey (WTOPNews)
If your business is extremely seasonal, then you've gotta make the best of things during a small window of time. So if your H&R Block, you damn well better nail tax season, cause you're gonna have to wait another year to try again. Some goes for the HoneyBaked Foods company, which pretty much has to deliver the goods during this time of year. People don't order HoneyBaked hams on July 4th, after all. So, bad news for them -- and anyone who bought one of their turkeys, we suppose -- the company is recalling many items due to contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. Yikes. When did our food supply start resembling Japan's.
Hedge fund singularity (Information Processing)
Ray Kurzweil, the philosopher/writer, who envisions a time when technology surpasses the capabilities of biological organisms (i.e. computers smarter than humans), is getting into the hedge fund game. We're not sure what, exactly, his hedge is going to be, but it'll certainly be extremely complex; far too complex for us mortals. But take heart, Kurzweil also believes he can live forever, as long as he takes good care of himself and drinks plenty of anti-oxidant-rich green tea, so you know he'll have a long-term outlook for his investments.
Firms set to merge (The Standard)
When Vladimir Putin decides he wants to consolidate his country's energy industry, it's a really big deal, because, well, his country's energy industry is the whole world's energy industry. You privatize and mash together a few oil companies, and you've got a pretty sizable glom. At the other end of the spectrum is Malaysia (erstwhile home of the Opening Bell), where state regulators announced plans to merge the country's palm oil plantations. The government sees the newly merged organization as having significant heft and clout. Meanwhile, we can now expect more consolidation of our movie theater chains, as they cope with the high costs of oil for their popcorn.
ProfessorBainbridge.com
Dealbreaker must-read blog ProfessorBainbridge.com, written by UCLA law prof Stephen Bainbrdige has relaunched his blog after a long hiatus. His writing on business, corporate law, and wine are now rolled into one. In our family, we have writing on business and law, though the wine blog, Decanter, is probably a bit further down the list, so until then, go check out his.

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