Opening Bell: 7.16.07

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Key Bancroft Aims for a Long Shot (WSJ)
Chistopher Bancroft, who is described as a "key" member of the Bancroft clan, is busily attempting to block the deal that would see the Dow Jones go to News Corp. However, we have more respect for him than some of the others, because he's at least putting his money where his mouth is. Unlike some, who just aren't comfortable with Murdoch, he's actually trying to buy out other Bancrofts, so that he can consolidate enough voting shares to block the deal. Through various funds and trusts that he controls, he already has a third of the Bancroft's shares, though his task would still seem to be tall. Still, if he can give them the same money that Rupert can, he might have a shot. Of course, if he "wins", he'll be stuck with a crazy amount of one struggling company, so the victory might, alas, be Pyrrhic.
In Reversal, Ford Will Entertain Offers for Volvo (NYT)
Ford is looking for a nice one-time gain, as it's set to put its Volvo division on the market. The company has said in the past that it has no intention of shedding the unit, but that was probably said when it felt it might turn things around and start making money soon. Now that that looks like a remote possibility, everything is on the table.
France, Germany seek to resolve splits over EADS (Reuters)
No, really, both the French and German governments are serious about restructuring EADS so that it will no longer be hamstrung by either of their national interests. Very honorable. Just one problem: the two countries can't figure out how this will happen, or who will be in charge of which division. Just wait, there's going to be some sort of deal whereby the EADS CEO is a German, while the head of the Airbus unit is French (or visa versa), which will ultimately accomplish nothing.
DIFC to make bid for OMX, says UK report (Gulf News)
Dubai is starting to get annoying. Look, just because you have an indoor ski slope and a man-made archipelago in the shape of the world doesn't mean you're a global superpower. Or maybe it does. What do we know? Either way, the country is obviously going to keep asserting its wealth in ways that interfere with the plans of US companies. It's being reported that the The Dubai International Financial Centre is set to make a bid for the Swedish stock exchange, OMX, which is currently being pursued by the NASDAQ. Of course, the NASDAQ should just start preparing for failure now, since it seems pretty used to getting rejected on these deals.


Sterling hits fresh 26-year high as dollar weakens (MarketWatch)
On Friday, we caught a few minutes of Larry Kudlow's show. Guess what? He was really bullish, and couldn't imagine that there's anything to be concerned about when it comes to the economy. He also had The Nuge as a guest, who was talking about living sober, although that's another story. One of his econ-related guests asked him why the dollar kept tanking if everything was so great in the US. Naturally, Kudlow ignored the question and pointed to rising stocks. Either way, the dollar continues to plummet, giving us yet another excuse not to vacation to Europe.
Nestle's Alcom to buy Germany's WaveLight in friendly takeover (AFX)
Who knew that Nestle had a US-based eyecare division? Comes as a surprise to us. The division, Alcom, is buying Germany's WaveLight, a maker of refractive lasers.
China's GDP Poised To Top Germany's As Power Shift Speeds Up (WSJ)
So China is poised to top Germany and move into third place on the list of countries with the highest GDP. Germany, feeling a bit hurt by this, turned to China and said, "yeah, but let's measure GDP per capita, beeyotch".
IHOP Buys Applebee's for $2.1 Billion In Bold Move for Pancake Chain (WSJ)
IHOP Is looking for diversify away from just pancakes. Granted, there's nothing wrong with pancakes (except that they're high in starch and sugar), but a whole company based on pancakes is going to start to hit the upper bounds of its potential sooner than later. So it's trying to lasso Applebee's (whose food, we imagine, is execrable, but pleasing to the average consumer's palette), a company twice its size. Best of luck to it.
Casinos Boom in Katrina’s Wake as Cash Pours In (NYT)
The politicians who felt that casinos were to blame for hurricane Katrina (God's wrath), ultimately lost out in their attempts to prevent them from being rebuilt. And it sounds like a good thing: they're raking in record amounts of cash. Some of it is tourist money, while some of it, realistically, is probably the product of FEMA checks, originally intended for something with more social function. Also helping the casinos is the fact that other businesses, like churches and bowling alleys haven't been rebuilt, narrowing the competition.
The Hand That Controls the Sock Puppet Could Get Slapped (NYT)
We still can't quite drop the John Mackey thing. Fortunately, the NYT gives us an excuse to write about it again, as it discusses the broader history of "sock puppetry", which is the name for these kinds of pseudonymous message board/blog comment postings. The good news for John Mackey is that he wasn't alone in not being able to resist the urge. But that moral relativism won't get him anywhere. If you're an executive or even just a lowly blogger, try to resist the urge.

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