Opening Bell: 7.8.07

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Thomson May Buy Reuters for 8.77 Billion Pounds (Bloomberg)
This news broke last week, but the parties were acting all coy about who was involved. There were a number of reports that said Thomson was interested in buying Reuters, but then an equal number of reports said that the buyer was unknown. Now it's known that it's Thomson as both sides say a deal may be in the works. So much exciting stuff happening in the financial news and data space. Maybe Bloomberg will step down as mayor and return to the helm of Bloomberg (after his failed independent bid for President).
Icahn strikes out in Motorola bid (Chicago Tribune)
Carl Icahn lost his bid for a seat on Motorola's board yesterday, as he believes that he failed to win over the support of large institutional shareholders of the company. At its annual shareholder meeting, Icahn stood in front of the stage and congratulated CEO Ed Zander for his victory. The whole thing sounds a little surreal. Then he talked about how the company has too many VPs, is losing ground to the Japanese, the criminality of Golden Parachutes, and how America has become a second-rate nation.-- ok, he didn't talk about those last four things.
Arcelor-Mittal Is Said to Eye AK Steel (Dealbook)
You know what's great about Dealbook? When I click on the headline, I don't get a pop-up window that gives me the definition of the words, which I can't say for the rest of the New York Times site. As for the news, it looks like steel empire Arcelor-Mittal is set to make a play for Ohio's AK Steel. This summer is shaping up to be just like last summer in terms of metal M&A, as this news comes on the heels of yesterday's announcement of Alcoa's bid for Alcan. It's not clear whether AK is interested in being bought out, but be sure that Lakshmi will not be denied.
Takeover Bid for Qantas Collapses (AP)
Shares of Qantas -- the airline made famous by Rain Man -- crashed down to earth as a takeover bid for the company raised the white flag and admitted failure. Actually, the stock only ended down about 4%, which gives you some idea of how likely the whole thing was to ever get done. Another possibility is that investors believe another takeover attempt is around the corner, just as Dow Jones investors insist that something is bound to happen at some point.


J&J Stops Selling Costar II Stent After Study Failure (Bloomberg)
Stop the presses, it's a stent failure.
Wal-Mart to Buy Solar Energy for Stores (Forbes)
Wal-Mart's tried a lot of things to burnish its image among the cultural elites, and none of them seem to have worked. Organic produce and sushi bars didn't bring in the crowd in Plano, TX as expected. And it's never been able to pull off Target-like mass market couture, either. The CEO's calls to raise the minimum wage and to expand healthcare coverage for the poor were seen as disingenuous, while the company's own generic drug plan was seen hurting mom & pop pharmacies. The company just can't win. It's latest move is to do a solar power pilot at a number of its stores, as it'll buy panels from BP and SunPower to determine whether it's a viable energy source for the company. It's an important test for the solar power industry. If Wal-Mart gives it the thumbs up -- if it really finds it to be an economical choice, then it should find success elsewhere.
Wall St. Journal Editors Held News of Murdoch Bid (NYT)
This story is a big 'duh'. Apparently the editors of the Journal knew about the bid for a couple of weeks, but decided to sit on it, as other outlets like the New York Times and the CNBC got the scoop. This isn't surprising at all, really. It's totally unrealistic to think that the editors would just "scoop" their bosses, even if it is a big business story that typically they'd be all over. Just to make this article a little more titillating, the Times bring up insider trading, noting the unusual activity in Dow Jones options right before the announcement. It's pretty safe to say that the Journal's editors weren't doing the trading, we can get throw that idea away right now. It's probably some friend of a friend of lawyer that was working for Murdoch. Lawyers can't resist telling their friends that kinda stuff.

I couldn't decide between "Gas Boycotts Don't Work" and "Oh Crap, Here We Go Again" (Environmental Economics)
This summer really is last summer all over again. We've got metal mergers, stent recalls, and now calls for gas boycotts. Well, nobody's actually proposing a boycott of gas. But once again, some economic known-nothings are asking Americans to take one day (May 15th) and not buy any guess, just a show of force for the gas stations that the consumer is in charge. Of course, this will only result in a doubling of gas demand on May 16th, so it won't work. It's a ludicrous idea. But, it's safe to say that we'll probably hear something similar from Bill O'Reilly about this in the coming weeks. Also, expect the gas tax to be an issue in the presidential campaign, particularly among second-tier candidates looking for something to pound away on.

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