Opening Bell: 4.30.07

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Melamine Said Common in China Animal Feed
When it first hit that feed from China contained the semi-toxic chemical melamine, people wondered whether the whole thing was intentional. Then, the articles shifted about how it was definitely intentional, as some feed producers spike their product with it as a cheap boost to its nutritional profile. And now the latest stories are about how pretty much everyone uses it and knows about it, which, well, pretty much answers the question about whether it's intentionally placed there (it is). Meanwhile, a number of humans have definitely eaten pigs that ate it (duh), though it's still not clear whether humans in the US have eaten it directly, in the form of gluten. We're guessing that this is another obvious "duh". It also seems possible that this will be an excuse to erect some fresh trade barriers, something that' been on the wish list of many US politicians for some time. Certainly protectionist drums are starting to bang louder, on all sides. And while we're on the subject of the food supply, is anyone else concerned by the apparent collapse in bee populations that's been on the news a lot lately? Let's get a show of hands on that.
Chalco triples in Shanghai listing, rivals Alcoa (Reuters)
You've probably noticed that the Chinese IPO market is red hot. They're doing new ones every day, and they're big. Lots of banks and industrial firms raking in large amounts of cash with the promises of monster profits. The latest is aluminum firm Chalco, which, after tripling in its Shanghai debut, is already on par with Alcoa in terms of market cap. It's already the country's eighth largest stock. What's scary is that you get the impression there are plenty more where that came from.
BoA threatens ABN with $220bn lawsuit over LaSalle (Times Online)
Bank of America really doesn't want ABN Amro to go back on its agreement to sell LaSalle. Just in case there was any ambiguity on that point, the bank has threatened ABN Amro with a little $220 billion lawsuit, should it renege. It's not clear how it came up with that number, which on its face seems ridiculous -- it's ten times the worth of LaSalle itself. But still, nobody wants that kind of threat hanging over their head.
Citigroup Wants to ‘Get It Done’ (Dealbook)
Just in case there were any doubt about Citigroup's commitment to righting the ship, it will announce next weekend its new tagline "Let's Get It Done". The great thing about this slogan is that it's obviously not a message that customers will give a damn about (just a guess: customers don't care much about taglines when it comes to banks), rather it's a message aimed internally. For more effect, it should be "Let's Get It Done, Dammit!" Meanwhile, executives at the company are said to be concerned about it becoming a target for activist hedge funds, that seek its breakup.


Yahoo to Buy Right Media for $680 Million Cash, Stock (Bloomberg)
After the Google/DoubleClick deal, there was a feeding frenzy for online advertising companies, as old names (which you haven't heard since the bubble) started jumping around, just as they did during bubble. Expect the fun to get started again, as Yahoo has purchased Right Media, an online ad firm in which it already owned about 20%. Right Media doesn't seem to be in DoubleClick's league, but this officially marks a trend.
Turkish Markets Plunge on Army Threat Over Election (Bloomberg)
This isn't going to do much to advance Turkey's cause of someday joining the EU. The markets plunged hard after people gathered to protest a candidate that's said to have Islamist leanings; the Army even promised to prevent him from taking office, should he take be elected. In a way, it's a good sign for the country and its connection to the rest of Europe, that such a large swath of the population opposes a religious radical, but splits between the government and the army are rarely a good sign for long term stability.
Investors Decline to Ride Ocean Power’s Wave (Dealbook)
The recent IPO of a company that generates power from the ocean's waves has performed poorly after just a few days of being public. Are you surprised? The company makes power from the ocean's waves. Even in the midst of green tech mania, something about that fails to inspire.
Bundesbank warns against hostile bank takeovers (Reuters)
The German central bank doesn't want to see an ABN Amro-like saga play out at one of its own banks. So it's taking a preemptive stance, by warning potential suitors not to mess around. It said that any such moves would constitute a threat to financial stability (seems highly dubious), and as such, any buyer should probably be on guard over regulatory action. The warning is also meant to deter cross-national purchases, which is funny, considering that the whole point of the EU was to define away these national borders. But as we've seen time and time again, most EU countries get really sensitive about losing their national treasures.

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