Opening Bell: 4.9.07

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Dow Chemical buyout approach days away: report (MarketWatch)
This has been rumored for some time, and now the rumors are back, and more specific. Word is that a group led by KKR, with the help of some Middle East oil money is set to make a bid for Dow Chemical, which would cost upwards of $50 billion, making it easily the largest such deal of all time. Stay tuned.
Zell Wants End to Web's Free Ride (Washington Post)
Sam Zell may have devised a brilliant structure to buy out the Tribune Co., giving him minimal downside and maximum upside, but we're already having major doubts about his ability to run the company he'll soon own. Just a day into his role as "owner of Tribune"-elect, Zell lashed out at Google for stealing content from newspapers, even though it does nothing of the sort. As he put it, "If all of the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content, how profitable would Google be?....Not very." He might want to have an aide look into those figures. Of course, that didn't stop the Washington Post reporter from adding in this line "Newspapers have allowed Google to use their articles in exchange for a small cut of advertising revenue...". That's not true either. That being said, if Zell wants to remove all of Tribune's news articles from Google News, and open up more room for Dealbreaker, we're all for it.
Japan's KDDI to begin U.S. mobile service via Sprint's network (MarketWatch)
Do you have Japanese mobile phone lust? If so, that's ok. There are plenty of reasons to be jealous when looking across the Pacific at the numerous fantastic mobile phones in use there, which make your old Nokia candybar or Motorola RAZR or even Blackberry look pretty weak. Now, for the first time a Japanese mobile operator is coming to US shores, and we can hope that they bring some of their phones with them. This isn't the first time, however, that a Japanese operator has tried to make money in the American market. Incumbent DoCoMo was an initial investor in the original AT&T Wireless, which turned out to be a total flop.
Citigroup to Buy Taiwan's Bank of Overseas Chinese (Bloomberg)
In case you haven't realized, Citigroup is hell bent on buying its way to a higher stature abroad, although it already enjoys a fairly high profile to begin with. The company announced that it's buying the Bank of Overseas Chinese (real name), which is based in Taiwan at a price tag of $426 million. The move expands the company's presence in the country five-fold. Interestingly, Taiwan has a law against opening up new bank branches, a move intended to induce consolidation in the industry -- seems to be working.


Isuzu buys land for U.S. truck plant in Alabama (Reuters)
For several years now, Toyota has been hungrily snapping up land across the South, as it burnishes its red white & blue reputation (still gotta work on the NASCAR though). Now Isuzu has confirmed a major land buy in Alabama, where it plans to open a truck plant, representing the further Japanification of the South/trucking industry, which is fine by us. And yes, we'd be of mix minds if they actually brought back Joe Isuzu. So annoying, but also nostalgia inducing.
MarketWatch's Bambi Francisco resigns (CNET)
While you were away on Friday, an entire scandal broke, evolved and then resolved itself. In the morning, reports came out that veteran tech reporter Bambi Francisco was in some hot water associated with a startup she had an investment in, which looked to be creating some conflicts of interest. By the middle of the day, it was realized that this startup was her company entirely -- it was no mere investment -- but that she had the approval of her manager to simultaneously do a startup and write about emerging tech for MarketWatch. But, it all prove too much in the end, and Francisco resigned late in the day. The whole thing didn't seem like that big of a deal to us, but of course folks like the Poynter crowd or the Columbia Journalism Review guys will have a field day analyzing this one.
Oil Falls as Supply Concern Eases After Iran Releases Marines (Bloomberg)
The hostages in Iran were released four days ago, and yet somehow it's still having an impact on day to day oil prices? Sounds like bunk. It's time to drop that excuse and look for something. Maybe with all this cold, it feels a little premature to start talking about summer driving season. But, hey, they could've at least said that the cold temperatures are pushing prices down as summer driving season gets pushed back a few extra weeks. Hey, we could do this as a living.
Sandisk MP3 player touts wireless Yahoo downloads (Reuters)
Apple knows that everyone in the industry is gunning for the iPod, but for a company that's under so much intense competition, we're guessing that it's not losing much sleep at night. Fact is, most of the competition pretty much sucks. It'd be one thing if it's competitors were coming out with killer products, but so far the big stab has been the Zune and some stuff from Sandisk. The latest is Sandisk's player that can wirelessly download songs from Yahoo's music store. Again, Apple probably shouldn't be too worried.

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