Opening Bell: 10.22.07

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KKR and GS Capital Partners to Invest in Harman International
Now this is pretty funny. KKR and GS Capital Partners have pulled out of their planned acquisition of Harman International, the maker of car audio systems. But why focus on the bad? As you can see from the headline, the press release is all positive. Rather than getting into some nasty litigation food fight, KKR and GS Capital plan to invest $400 million in some Harman convertible notes, which Harman will use on a share buyback. What a great way to spin it. Technically, KKR and GS aren't paying a straight up break up fee, since they're getting something in return. And Harman still feels loved and investment-worthy.
Japan's Brewers Taste Other Sectors (WSJ)
Interesting article about beer brewers in Japan and their attempts to diversify away from liquified fermented grains. Unlike in the US, there there's a lot of consolidation, Japanese brewers are into all other kinds of businesses. Kirin is even pondering the purchase of a stake in Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Co, a Japanese pharmaceutical player that makes cancer and allergy drugs. The move would complement Kirin's own existing pharma operations. Sapporo, meanwhile, has a pretty sizable real-estate arm. As for the beer, none of the big companies (Kirin, Sapporo, Asahi) are growing much in that respect, which pretty much forces the issue in terms of finding some new stuff.
Cabbies Plan 2nd Strike to Protest New Devices (NYT)
You know, cause it made such a big difference last time... the cabs are going on strike again to protest the new GPS/Credit Card requirements. As everyone knows, the issue is not really cost, but the increased difficulty of fudging tax numbers when everyone pays by credit card. Meanwhile, they promise that this time more cab drivers are going to participate, so they're really gonna bring the pain.
NYSE Euronext, CDC to launch worldwide CO2 trading market (AFX)
Sorry, but every time we read about some C02 trading initiative we find it to be pretty confusing. Like, there's no binding C02 reductions in place anywhere, is there? And given that, then there's technically no need to trade emissions credits, right? Seriously, someone correct us, because we'd love to know how this all works. At the moment, we just don't get it.

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Bear Stearns, Citic Near a Deal (WSJ)
Word is that Bear Stearns is getting ready to announce a deal with Chinese investment bank Citic, whereby the two parties will invest $1 billion each in the other. It's not clear what's really going to happen after that, or what kind of access Bear will get to the Chinese market, or why Citic wants to put $1 billion in Bear Stearns. Surely it's something sinister though and surely Bear Stearns is selling out our national security.
GM inches past Toyota in 9-month global sales (Reuters)
Boom! GM has moved past Toyota in global sales for the past nine months. How did it feel to be #1 for all of a week Toyota? Yup, probably good, now get back to work and stop gloating, cause you've already lost the mantle. How could we have ever doubted GM's supremacy. Will never do it again.
Americans Are Open to Chinese Goods, Poll Finds (NYT)
Turns out all the lead and stuff isn't causing too many folks to lose sleep over Chinese goods. Perhaps that's why the Times finally stopped their story-a-day series on the subject. Wasn't really resonating. Good news for retailers this year, though we still expect that 100% of holiday sales will end up being recalled.
Has The MySpace To Facebook Switch Begun? (TechCrunch)
Let us get something of our chests that we've been holding onto for awhile: Facebook is overrated. C'mon, really, it is. Every time we log on, it's like we're waiting for something to happen or looking for something to do, and it's just not there. Sure, the occasional status updates from friends are useful or whatnot. And there are some other features that are functional. But really, usually it just leaves us thinking "is that it?". But whatever, your mileage may vary. Meanwhile a report from Australia, yes, there, shows that Facebook traffic is surging while MySpace's is dwindling. Is that indicative of something broader that could be applied here? Who knows?

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