Testing Out the iPhone (WSJ)
Apple can stop holdings its breath. The iPhone has secured a good review from Walt Mossberg. Order is maintained in the universe. The Journal's gadget columnist is arguably the most influential tech journalist there is. He even commands respect from the various tech and gadget blogs out there, which is really saying quite a lot. As for specifics, he wasn't crazy about the speed, and he said it took awhile to learn the keyboard, but that he picked it up in a few days. Other than that, he thought it was a magnificent piece of consumer electronics After the report broke last night, Apple's stock started moving up in after hours trading, a testament to his significance.
Chinese Shift Bank Savings Into Frothy Stock Market (WSJ)
Assets held in Chinese banks have been declining of late, as people move their savings from cash to stocks. Listen. Dear Chinese stock market: just freakin' plunge already. Seriously, we've had nothing but ominous warning sign after ominous warning sign that something bad is going to happen. So just happen already. Watching the Chinese market is like watching the final episode of the Sopranos. Everything looks like foreshadowing and your convinced that someone's going to get a bullet through their head any second now. If China were a play, it'd be a bad one, because as Chekhov said, if you're going to bring a gun onstage, it better go off.
Jurors Are Expected to Get Conrad Black’s Case Today (NYT)
Jurors in the Conrad Black case are expected to start deliberating, in what's become one of the biggest corporate crime cases since Enron -- though we've still not found anyone who understands it (again, like Enron). For some reason, there doesn't seem to be much trading on this one over at Intrade, so apologies for passing on news that can't be monetized.
China and Dubai are coming…together (FT Alphaville)
China and Dubai are set to establish a more formal relationship to partner on investments in global assets. Heretofore, China and Dubai have always been linked, but only metaphysically. As in, they're both part of this new club of money that the US isn't really a member of. Sure, some US business and businessmen are doing quite well there, but on the whole, they represent a distinct alternative. So now the metaphysical is turning to the physical, and we can expect some buyout deals from the pair.
Exxon, Conoco Exit Venezuela Under Pressure (WSJ)
Yet another domino falls for the Venezuelan economy.
Blackstone pulls out of $16.7B Cole's bid (Reuters)
Apparently by going public as a private equity firm, Blackstone has disturbed a very fragile space-time balance. Get this: now it's pulling out of possible bids, rather than going after them more aggressively when the competition gets tough. Very strange indeed.
Blackstone and iPhone? I'm Sick of Both (Information Arbitrage)
Halle-frackin'-llujah. Seriously. Article after article after article. Yeah, we're guilty of it too. Even within this one Opening Bell. But, of course, we have a responsibility to tell you what's out there. If we decided, as a patter of principal, to ignore everything having to do with Blackstone and the iPhone, then we'd be distorting your view of the news. But believe us, we're looking forward to when this nonsense dies down.
Oracle Q4 profits swell on new software deals and acquisitions (CBR Online)
No company has been more aggressive with acquisitions than Oracle has over the last three years. After acquiring PeopleSoft, the company has averaged nearly one deal a month since then, in a bid to bundle all of the world's business applications and take market share away from everyone else. Well, technically speaking, acquisitions will make you bigger in the sense that eating more food will make you weigh more. But what every company wants is lean muscle mass, which Oracle still has yet to show. The verdict is that while the company is performing well, it's still got a major challenge ahead of it, in terms of integrating all of these acquisitions.
Bain to Buy Guitar Center for $1.9B Cash (AP)
Bain Capital is going to buy out Guitar Center for $1.9 billion, a 26% premium over the company's closing price. Is it just us, or does the Guitar Center just scream private equity? Like, what was this company doing public for so long?