Opening Bell: 6.15.07

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Home Depot Gets $10 Billion Bids for Unit, People Say (Bloomberg)
No, HD isn't under a private equity attack (just yet), but apparently two firms are after its contractor-supplies unit, the part of the business that does more wholesale industrial selling. If the rumors are true, it'd be a nicely counter-cyclical deal, as that business can't be anywhere near its peak these days. The company apparently sees it similar, as former CEO Nardelli indicated that Home Depot would be open to a sale of it.
Jess Jackson Cries Foul Over Blackstone IPO
Jesse Jackson is angry that of the $150,000,000 in underwriting fees that will be paid out by Blackstone, only $750,000 is going to minority-owned business. In his view it's "Wall Street apartheid". Little dramatic there Jessie? First of all, it should be pointed out, that many of the Wall St. banks that will be doing the deal are publicly traded, so it's impossible to know who owns them -- presumably there are a number of minority shareholders (you know what we mean) of all of these banks. But admittedly this isn't an issue that we'd thought of before, although, you need a lot more evidence than what Jesse Jackson has to allege that Blackstone actually discriminated against these firms during the process. Simply saying that not many minority-owned firms were part of the deal doesn't mean much of anything. Still, it'll be another good issue for the Dems on the banking committee to hold hearings about.
Boom Times for Banks in Venezuela (NYT)
By most accounts, Hugo Chavez is running the Venezuelan economy right into the dirt. Even years and years of record oil money, it's believed, won't be able to stave off the carnage that he's inflicting. And yet, at least according to this article in the times, people in the country might be blind to the deteriorating economic situation. That's because with all of the cash that's going around (oil revenue + currency outflow controls), banks have inordinate piles sitting around, and they're eager to lend it out for everything and anything (the times has a picture of a woman who got a loan for breast augmentation, if you like looking at that sort of thing). Now, obviously, this can't last. Either they'll run out of cash, or these loans will go bad (likely). But it would seem that until it all hits the fan, everyone's having a party.
Sanofi setback clouds future of obesity drugs (Reuters)
There's a certain claque of scientific optimists that think they key to cracking obesity will be found in a pill form. We're pretty optimistic, ourselves, but we also think it's going to be hard to avoid the laws of physics. Certain things like conservation of mass and conservation of energy are pretty hard to run up against. Thus the setbacks that Sanofi has run into with its Accomplia weight-loss pill are, perhaps, to be expected. And naturally, people are wondering whether the same problems will manifest themselves in other pills of the same class (probably). If you're trying produce something that sounds too good to be true, there's a good change that it is.


Future Looks Up For Freddie Mac (Forbes)
The Macs and Maes seem universally troubled (wonder why that is) and yet they float along as if everything is peachy. Forbes is reporting that things are looking up, not because the company came out with good financials (it didn't), but because the CEO of Freddie Mac says they're looking. He insisted that despite losing $211 million during the last quarter that the company built up shareholder value. Er, wha? The best case for the company was made by an analyst that pointed out that because the company has been dealing with accounting issues for the past several years, it was too distracted to take part in the recent mortgage boom. Clever.
Investing in fat people? (Houston's Clear Thinkers)
Assuming that we don't find a magic weight-loss pill anytime soon and assuming that Kellogg's decision to stop advertising sugar cereals to kids doesn't have any meaningful impact, then we can only assume that fat is here to stay. So you might as well profit from it by turning pounds into dollars, so to speak. Merrill Lynch is out with a new report examining how best to do this.
Why business professors' salaries are increasing (OrgTheory)
We tend to think that serious professors are an exception to the "those who can't do" line. But, when it comes to business, it would seem that anyone choosing the academy must have some good reason for forgoing the more lucrative outside world. It seems that a lot of folks aren't finding the tradeoff worthwhile, and so the market is trying to correct itself by pushing the salaries of b-school profs every higher to compensate for a lack of qualified business PH.D.s. So, if you've ever wanted to make the jump, now's your chance.

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