Opening Bell: 12.4.06

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Bank of New York Agrees to Acquire Mellon Financial (Bloomberg)
Bank of New York, the dowdy old money holder announced the purchase of Mellon Financial, also a financial custodian for $16.5 billion. Bank of New York, of course, is the oldest listed company in the United States (quick trivia question: what's the oldest listed company in the world?), while Mellon Financial is associated with the early days of the steel industry. Other than some retail banking services, these companies basically just operate giant safes. Rich institutions give them their money, and they promise to hold it securely. With a business like that, there's bound to be plenty of redundancies and layoffs after the merger.
In Tough Times, a Redesigned Journal (NYT)
The Wall Street Journal has taken a few shots at the New York Times of late, particularly the paper's business section. So it must give the Times some modicum of satisfaction that the Journal is apparently signaling weakness by planning to narrow the width of its paper, and put out less news. When the format change happens in early January, it might be rather jarring to longtime readers. But the Times shouldn't be gloating. At least the Journal has plenty of paying subscribers to its website, something the Times can not boast of. So when the WSJ's publisher says the website will still be used to aggressively break news throughout the day, he means it, and the company will profit from it. Meanwhile, it's only a matter of time before there's some major head rolling at the Gray Lady. They'll probably have to eliminate half of their sections one day, or maybe just sell the Sunday Times (for the puzzle), giving away the rest.
Demise of a Blockbuster Drug Complicates Pfizer's Revamp (WSJ)
Just last Thursday, during a discussion with analysts, Pfizer said its forthcoming heart drug, torcetrapib, would be one of the most important cardiovascular medicines on the market. Two days later, the drug was 86'd. The next day, following the analyst meeting the company got the latest data on the drug intended to replace Lipitor, which is going generic. The data indicated that there were several more deaths among torcetrapib takers than those were taking just Lipitor. Patients also showed an increase in certain types of heart disease. This is a pretty rough time for the company, and many of its peers, patent-wise, and the loss off torcetrapib is a pretty big blow, and one that significantly weakens its pipeline.
The Hot New Digs For Wall St. Bonus Babies (NY Post) (via Dealbook)
It's no secret that Wall St. bonuses help fuel the high end of the NYC real estate market each year, as bankers play a game of musical condos. Actually, it's more like Q-bert, as everyone just keeps trying to bounce higher up the pyramid. But what if you got tired of moving every year? Sure, you have all this money, but what if you're satisfied with your digs, and the expense and hassle makes it not worth it? Then of course you have to buy property in another country, like the Carribean. Granted, you'll probably never get to go there, but at least it's not redundant, the way another city pad would be.


Big bucks but meager job security (LA Times)
We had already seen statements to this effect earlier in the year, but just to reiterate, 2006 was a terrible year for CEOs in terms of job security. According a study, 1347 CEOs lost their jobs so far this year (and just cause Christmas is around the corner doesn't mean a few more won't get the ax). That's up from 1322 last year. Hey, maybe Barbara Ehrenreich's plan for a white-collar union isn't such a bad idea.
China surges in global R&D league (Times Online)
China continues to confound. We've seen a rash of stories criticizing the Chinese tech scene, pointing out its weaknesses, and noting how unprepared many Chinese companies are to compete on the world stage. And yet according to the OECD, the country is now the 2nd biggest spender on R&D in the world, after the US. This unseats Japan, where they'll throw R&D at any crazy project, like melding brain cells with microchips, or developing two new base nucleotides, for the creation of new proteins. OF course, GDP per capita is a totally different story, though per capita adjustments, like seasonal adjustments, are truly the last refuge of a scoundrel.
Baidu plans Japan entry (Reuters)
All that Chinese R&D is manifest in Baidu, the country's search engine that has done a good job battling Google for market share. Now it's set to move beyond its borders, and expand into other markets where Google would like to dominate, like Japan and beyond. It's a game of go, the Japanese board game -- each side is laying little stones along a line in a bid to cut off and then surround the competition.
Thoughts on the New CNBC Site (Infectious Greed)
OMG, is it December 4th already!? Why, that means that CNBC's website is now at CNBC.com as opposed to finance.money.msn.com/tv_CNBC or whatever abomination of a URL it had before. Still, $10/month for online video? We might wait, oh, 5 minutes, until they show up on YouTube.

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