Opening Bell: 12.17.07

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Ingersoll-Rand Will Acquire Trane for $10.1 Billion (Bloomberg)
Merger Monday is back baby. No, actually, there has been an uptick in the deal flow and size of mergers announced on Monday in the last month or so. At least we recall Deal Journal saying something to that effect the other day. The latest is a big, heavy industrial tie-up, as Ingersoll-Rand is acquiring Trane for a solid $10.1 billion in cash and stock. The idea: refrigerated food transport. Trane makes cooling systems and IR makes refrigerated trucks, so the fit is a natural one, with plenty of redundancies, we're sure.
US, EU reach deal over online gambling (AP)
Great news, the EU and the US have reached a deal over online gambling. Actually, sad news. They did reach a deal, but it doesn't mean the US is set to allow online gambling anytime soon. Instead, the US will make certain concessions to EU businesses in such areas as mail services and testing and analysis. And how pray-tell does that benefit us at all? It doesn't really. Minor good news: Barney Frank recently got a 45th sponsor for a plan to exempt online poker from anti-gambling laws, so that's cool.
Developer Behind Time Warner Center Gets Capital Infusion (WSJ)
Goldman Sachs, Abu Dhabi and others have agreed to invest $1.4 billion in Related Cos. Which related Cos.? No, that's their name -- Related Cos. They're not related to anyone, necessarily. That's the cool thing about being a non-consumer facing brand. No need to worry about branding. Call your firm whatever you want. Related Cos., Equity Office Partners, Vornado, er. Anyway. Related Cos. is the developer behind the Time Warner Building, and the deal will value the company at $5 billion. This is where Warren Buffett steps in and makes a comment about giving Manhattan away for cheap trinkets, er, oil.
H&M Sales Growth Slows in November on Milder Winter (Bloomberg)
We were actually in an H&M yesterday. And, like, it was busy, but not that busy. And you know there's a difference. Seriously, we've been in that place on some days -- not even around a holiday -- and you can barely move. Yesterday wasn't like that. On the other hand, we walked by the A&F store, and it looked like there was going to be a stamped to get into the door. If you're a retail analyst, that was some free market research for ya.

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A Familiar Editor for Gawker (NYT)
First saw this mentioned on Drudge last night, but Gawker Media flagship blog Gawker will be helmed going forward by Nick Denton, the company's owner. We're fans of active owners, so this is cool. Sort of like how Vince McMahon is the CEO of WWE and yet he sitll gets in there in the ring every week. You've got to admire that sort of commitment.
Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Overvalued - Barron's (Reuters)
Oh no they di'n't.
Hey Transistor, Happy 60th. Now Move Closer (GigaOM)
You were probably too busy getting smashed this weekend, but you should've been celebrating the 60th anniversary of the transistor, without which, our lives would be radically worse.
Retailers Face an Ominous Holiday Sign (NYT)
That slowdown in consumer spending we've heard so much about. Yeah, it's pretty much here. But you knew that already, so any additional news is sort of just icing. Anyway, this year, sales of women's apparel is actually down 6 percent during the holidays, at least according to MasterCard, who has a pretty fool-proof way of monitoring this stuff. Then again, maybe that money is just being redirected towards Wiis and iPhones. That'd be cool.
Ellison-Backed IPO to End '07 (WSJ)
It's easy to understand why the Dutch Auction IPO format isn't popular on Wall Street. To use the old, only-in-the-movies cliche, 'you takin' food out they mouthes' by going Dutch. Still, it's not like the Dutch model is posing much of a threat. It's never proven to be that big or popular, and there's little-to-no chance that a rush of Dutch IPOs will come anytime soon. So it really shouldn't bother folks that much. And yet there's no doubt that the forthcoming IPO of NetSuite, the on-demand ERP vendor partly owned by Oracle's Larry Ellison will not have the warmest welcome on the street. To wit: The auction format, along with the fact that the company has never been profitable, doesn't sit well with Francis Gaskins, president of research site IPODesktop.com. The closest the company has come to eking out a profit recently was in the third quarter, when it lost $1.8 million." You usually see companies try to crank out a good quarter before their IPO, but you have to wonder how extendable this is. I don't know that there will be much of an encore after this," says Mr. Gaskins. We're sure Mr. Gaskins' IPODesktop has never seen an unprofitable company go public before.
Gregory Mark on Lawrence Mitchell, The Speculation Economy: How Finance Triumphed Over Industry (Conglomerate)
We keep meaning to read this book, but so far we haven't had the chance. Maybe that's what the holidays will be for. Here's a good review of it that makes us want to read it more.

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