Opening Bell: 4.18.07

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BCE bidding war looms (Financial Post)
BCE, the parent company of Bell Canada, has confirmed that its putting itself up for sale, and that it's been in talks with a number of parties. Among the parties is a number of Canadian pension funds, including that of the Ontario school teachers. Even if the school teachers lose, they'll almost certainly hunt for new acquisitions. Clearly they've decided that private equity deals fit with their investment strategy, and you can bet that after they've tasted the thrill of a competitive process, such as this one, they'll want to get right back at it.
RIM's BlackBerry system down: report (Reuters)
Word is that the entire BlackBerry network failed on Tuesday night and that it is/was still down this morning, rendering countless emails undeliverable. Can anyone in the audience (we're guessing there are one or two Blackberry users among you) confirm the current status? Let's hope this is completely resolved by the time the workday starts, since we'd hate to see commerce ground to a halt.
Fannie, Freddie to Aid Delinquent Subprime Borrowers (Bloomberg)
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are stepping in to try and fix the "problem" that they helped create. They're going to pressure lenders (lovely) to renegotiate mortgages with delinquent borrowers so that they'll carry more favorable terms. It's times like this that the two organizations really look more like arms of the government than private, for-profit companies It's not that private companies wouldn't try to develop solutions to the foreclosure problem, it's just that private companies can't lean on little lenders the same way organizations chartered by Congress can.
Will Pols Milk the Rise in Milk Prices? (Hit & Run)
It's pretty much become a tradition around election time to ask presidential candidates if they can accurately say how much a gallon of milk costs. A lot of times they can't, which is supposed to signify that they're totally out of touch with the common man. We've always thought the question was a bit unfair -- what if they don't like milk? You'll never find a gallon of milk in our refrigerator (cause on its own it's gross, and because we don't eat cereal), so if we were posed the question, we might look out of touch as well. But apparently milk prices our surging, much to the chagrin of Joe Taxpayer, who is already paying a lot for gasoline. So it's certainly possible that milk will be the new gas this election season, and so you can bet that politicians will be memorizing the price of milk every day before they go out on the stump.


Cellphone ring adds a supernatural tone (The Globe & Mail)
The trial of Conrad black, it's hard to pinpoint why, but it almost seems like more of a Gawker thing than a Dealbreaker thing. Yeah, it's about business fraud, fine, but for some reason it feels hard to care about. It's probably just trial fatigue, that and the fact that he's Canadian. Anyway, the trial must be at some sort of a lull because the big news is that a cell phone went off in court yesterday and the lawyer who owned it couldn't manage to turn it off. Also, the ringtone was the theme to the Exorcist. Creepy.
Putin May Give Russians a Choice of Approved Candidates in 2008 (Bloomberg)
In retrospect, Russia under Mikhail Gorbachev was clearly a more hopeful time than Russia is today, no? Sure, the country was still under Soviet rule, but Gorbachev seemed genuinely interested in a number of western ideals, even if he didn't really know what he was doing. Putin doesn't even seem vaguely interested democracy or anything like that. Although he promises not to change the constitution (thanks for that), he still hopes to retain considerable influence after he leaves office. And he's tightly managing his succession so that Russians have a choice between two handpicked candidates.
Google CEO announces PowerPoint competitor (Computerworld)
Yesterday at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, Google CEO Eric Schmidt confirmed that his company would be unveiling an online presentation app a la PowerPoint. This basically completes the so-called Google Office, which already has email, a word processor and a spreadsheet. It's been clear for a long time that the company has no fear about stepping right into Microsoft's path. After all, they're giving these things away, so it's not as though Microsoft can undercut them. That being said, PowerPoint is probably the single most derided piece of software known to man, so we're not sure why Google doesn't just let the thing die and slow and painful death on its own.
Vonage Says Patent Suits Could Lead to Bankruptcy (WSJ)
Vonage has confirmed that bankruptcy is one of the possible results for the company, particularly if it doesn't overturn get its patent infringement verdict overturned. Yeah, you have to figure that if the company is enjoined from signing up new customers, or if it's forced to stop offering its services, the company is pretty much dead. What's really funny though is that just a few weeks ago the company was scolding investors for being idiots, saying that they'd either find a technical workaround or get the case overturned, neither of which seems particularly likely. Actually, the company announced that the technical workaround idea is hopeless. So yeah, screwed, toast, and on crack.

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