Sallie Mae Will Be Sold to Banks, Investment Funds for $25 Billion (WSJ)
It's official, Sallie Mae has agreed to be bought out for $25 billion to a pair of private investment funds -- JC Flowers & Co. and Friedman Fleischer & Lowe LLC -- along with Bank of America and JP Morgan. This seems like it will inevitably be Topic A for a host of reasons, including the size of the deal, the fact that it's a financial services company, the fact that it's one of the "Maes", the fact that it's in a highly-regulated industry and because it's seen (rightly or wrongly) as having a social mission -- helping kids go to college. This is good; it'll be like cleaning a gun wound. You gotta scrape out all the bad stuff and get it all out in the open and see where you stand. Should be fun.
Suitors Raise Bid for Clear Channel (NYT)
Meanwhile, Clear Channel may be on the verge of disappearing from the public market as well, as two private equity firms (working together), have raised their bid for the company, fearing that their initial offer was too low. According to people familiar with the situation, the latest offer is for $26 billion, including debt. In other Clear Channel news, the company has hired Google to manage some of its ads, which is another win for Google in its quest to expand offline.
Tracinda’s Chrysler bid in danger of collapse (Financial Times)
When Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda group announced its intention to make a bid for Chrysler about a week and a half ago, it seemed destined to radically shake up the whole negotiations for a host of financial and cultural reasons. But, the FT is reporting that the investment firm is in danger of getting shut out because Daimler has not given the company a high level of access to the firm, and thus its been unable to make its case. The reason is that Tracinda's offer is a bit lower than its rivals and it's demanded exclusive negotiations. Between the two things, Daimler isn't taking its bid as serious as the others.
Citigroup Net Income Declines 11 Percent on Charge (Bloomberg)
Citigroup, the troubled bank, announced earnings this morning that were down 11% year-over-year, although the loss was primarily due to "charges" associated with restructuring and cost cutting. We put "charges" in quotes, because the word typically connotes something one-timey or rare. But, we're guessing that there will be nothing unusual about these charges, since all of the job cuts they're talking about took place before its recent announcement of some massive job cuts coming down the pike. In other words, this company is probably going to be restructuring for a long time, which means that all of these charges and such should be seen as a cost of doing business. As for its pro formas, the company grew earnings by 4% on the back of trading gains. Good for them.
Google pays massive premium for DoubleClick ad biz (Computer Business Review)
Late on Friday, Google announced its largest ever acquisition, as it said it would pay out $3.1 billion (in cash!, not play money stock) for DoubleClick, the onetime darling of the internet ad business. DoubleClick has been taken private for $1.1 billion just a couple of years ago, so it represents a tidy profit for its private equity owners. Furthermore, one gets the impression that this was no "let's see how much debt we can foist on this turkey" kind of deal. At this point, you have to wonder whether Google should best be described as aggressive or paranoid, as it seeks to prevent its competitors from making any serious inroads into its business.
Greenspan Says Global Growth to Cushion U.S. Economy (Bloomberg)
Speaking in Tokyo, Alan Greenspan said that strong global growth should offset any weakness in the US economy, and that his previous concerns about a recession were overblown. It's possible that he was just trying to make a positive speech for his audience, but that's not the interesting thing here. What is interesting is how Greenspan utterly dominates Bernanke. Fact is, we basically never hear anything about Bernanke except during a narrow window right around the time when the Fed meets. Meanwhile, Greenspan is constantly in the news, as the job of parsing his words keeps many financial journalists fully employed.
Another Launch Today: AllThingsD, From WSJ (PaidContent)
Everyone's going to be talking about the launch of Portfolio today (although the site was accessible over the weekend -- looked OK, subscribed to Felix Salmon's RSS feed), but there's another launch today as well. The Journal, well mainly its gadget guru Walt Mossberg, is launching All Things D, which shares a name with a tech conference that Mossberg puts in every year. The Journal's writing on tech, including Mossberg's, tends to be pretty decent, so we have high hopes for the new site.
Storm pounds the NYC area, causing flooding and power outages (Newsday)
It looks like it's going to be another day of lovely spring weather. Thank god tax day is not until the 17th, because you'd have to pay us to go to the post office in this weather. In fact it's just the opposite. Our only reason to go the post office is to drop a sickening check in the mail, something that we'll look for every excuse to avoid. That being said, who wants to propose an over/under for how many retailers cite the big nor'easter for dampening their Q2 sales?