Opening Bell: 4.27.07

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Was This a Democratic Debate? (WSJ)
The Democrats debated last night, but there was a poker tournament at the local club, so it really wasn't much of a priority. Maybe we'll watch them when it's just down to Obama, Edwards and HIllary, but at this point, we really don't care too much about what Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich (remind us to tell the story about the time we got to ask Dennis Kucinich a question at a press conference). But apparently, the subject of hedge funds came up, and both Hillary and Edwards sung their praises. Edwards worked for one in a past life, which he admitted, so he was pretty hamstrung. Meanwhile, Hillary said they reflected the entrepreneurial spirit of America, which is pretty much true. In other words, it looks like hedge funds' extensive investments into Democratic candidates is paying off. They weren't asked about private equity, so it's not clear whether the rightward tilt of PE funds would've brought out the guns.
In Nikko Bid, Citigroup Wins the Day (Dealbook)
In the end, it was relatively painless, as Citigroup announced today that it had successfully garnered 61% of Nikko Cordial, giving it a majority stake in the bank. It had offered to buy up the entire company, but it was hoping to at least gain 50%. So, Citi is declaring it a victory. Up until the end, there were reports of holdout institutions that felt Citi's offer was unsatisfactory.
Microsoft exceeds Wall Street expectations (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Valleywag reported yesterday afternoon that the hold music on the Microsoft conference call was the theme song from the Titanic, which, symbolically, seems like a real mistake. That being said, the company has gone another quarter without hitting an iceberg. Despite the fact that the company is dead and irrelevant (according to people who know about these things), it turned in a record quarter, beat expectations, demonstrates strong sales of Vista and Office, and guided solidly.


Hogs That Ate Tainted Food to Be Euthanized (Washington Post)
Officials have concluded that up to 6,000 hogs probably ate some form of contaminated food, and that up to 300 are may have gotten into the human food supply. Well, 300 isn't that bad, and besides, what are the chances that animal that ate a little poison would end up being poison to the animal that ate it? Just so long as this is definitely the extent of the problem, then it looks like we're all clear. Meanwhile, a firm that imported wheat gluten has been raided by the Feds, although it insists that it had no idea about the presence of a poisonous chemical. Hey, buddy, ignorance is no excuse.
Click the mouse and lose your house (The Guardian)
When foreigners, particularly Europeans, write about the US, they always take a slightly befuddled tone at the contradictions of our culture. But it's true, we do have an odd mix of puritan and libertine values, both of which we cherish. Many individuals have found a way to celebrate both at the same time, which is particularly impressive. So, it's obviously ironic (but not at all surprising) that in a country that embraces risk and gambling (of all forms), we'd be the staunchest opponents of online betting. Now, here's a contradiction. In the rest of DB, you can guess that we're not really big fans of Barney Frank, who is an outspoken critic of shareholder pay, while some of his other ideas on things like mortgage backed securities are downright dangerous. But, he is introducing legislation to repeal the ban on internet gambling (well, sort of repeal it), which is something he needs to be applauded for. It's probably not that likely to pass, seeing as the Democrat majority isn't the party of social libertarianism it used to (proudly) be.
RBS turns up the heat in ABN Amro bid battle (Times Online)
RBS will not be deterred. Despite having been rebuffed in first offer for ABN Amro, the group is all set for the long, hard grind of a hostile takeover. As part of the plan, the company plans to launch a bid for the LaSalle bank, which is one of the key assets in RBS' sight.
Carlos Slim's Ideal, Macquarie to Bid for Mexican Toll Roads (Bloomberg)
Australia's Macquire sure loves its toll roads. Like, a lot. Pretty much every story about the company involves toll roads, unless it's about ports and waterworks. The latest is that the company is teaming up with Mexican Billionaire Carlo Slim to bid on a some major Mexican tollroads. Slim, meanwhile, is identified as the second richest man on the earth. But, is he the richest? Let it be noted right here that we're officially throwing out the possibility that he may have already surpassed Bill Gates as the richest man in the known universe. As of the last list, he was nipping on his heals, and it was close enough that the they may have switched positions. We'll have to do more research, or at least call up our friends at Forbes to see if they have more information.

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