Opening Bell: 2.11.08

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Societe Generale Plans Offer to Raise EU5.5 Billion (Bloomberg)
So SocGen will replenish itself with a big Blue Light Special on its stock. The bank plans to raise about $8 billion, by selling shares at a 40 percent discount from its last closing price. Existing shareholders will have the right to buy one share for every four they own. Analysts, apparently, had been expecting a 30 percent off sale, so this would be a little steeper than that. With the latest slide in shares, the company has a EU35 billion market cap.
Graft Paper (The American)
The key sentence: Olken and Jones discovered that a country was “more likely to see democratization follow­ing the assassination of an autocratic leader,” but found no substantial “effect following assassinations—or assassination attempts—on democratic leaders.” They concluded that “on average, successful assassinations of autocrats produce sustained moves toward democracy.”"
An inglorious anniversary (NakedShorts)
It's been a long year. And it's been one year since the IPO of Fortress Investment Group. That first day of trading: "back in the days when sub-prime meant finding gristle in a filet at Smith & Wollensky, it opened at $35, traded up to $37—still an all-time high—and closed at $31."
Theory Gains That Trader Had a Helper (NYT)
This is going to sound totally asinine, but we, at the Opening Bell, are actually getting a little tired of the SocGen rogue trader story. Yes, it should be endlessly interesting. You know, $7.2 billion and all, but... something... hard to say. Even rumors about a conspiracy and it "going all the way to the top" don't animate us as it should. Maybe cause it's French, but maybe not. Anyway, he might've had a friend. If so, does that mean the two only get credit for $3.6 billion each? They can't both get credit for the full $7.2 billion, obviously.


Yahoo! set to revive merger talks with AOL after rejecting hostile takeover (Times of London)
This is just a rumor, but there's speculation that Yahoo will try to tie-up with AOL as a way of avoiding Microsoft's wrath. We're not sure how that would work, or how that would actually provide a satisfactory alternative to Yahoo shareholders. When Microsoft made its bid, folks were making jokes about two injured runners teaming up in a three-legged race. How would you extend that analogy?
Jerry Yang Strikes Back; Here's Microsoft's Next Move (TechTicker)
And Yahoo has gotten back into the online finance video space, with the launch of TechTicker. It's not the first time Yahoo's been here, and to its credit, online video is in a lot better place than it was seven years ago. Today's episode: Hendry Blodget talking about YHOO-MSFT. We don't really have time to watch it this morning, but we're hopeful it will be better than a lot of other online tech videos, which basically just rehash stuff that we saw on a blog two days earlier.
The Wonderful Complexity of BHP-Rio Tinto (Deal Professor)
This is from Friday, but still an interesting look at the complexity of BHP's bid for Rio Tinto. Funny, the coverage of this hostile offer has paled in comparison to Microsoft-Yahoo, but this is like three times bigger. Of course, neither are consumer-facing brands, so that's an issue. Still, just in terms of intrigue, this is definitely on par. Easily on par
Writers Near Return, But Web Question Lingers (WSJ)
Barring some total shock, the writer's strike will soon be distant history and your favorite scripted TV shows will be back on the air. More Tina Fey. More Heroes. More Logan and Fallaci on Law & Order: CI. Awesome. Other than that last one, we wouldn't have noticed the strike at all, and that's the truth. You can see the deal for yourself (.pdf) and you might want to ask if there's any provision in there that couldn't have been reached a few months ago, before the strike. The story will go that the writer's went on strike and one some key consessions, but we basically buy the idea that strike, because it doesn't reveal new information, doesn't really help two sides reach an agreement. If anything, we thought this strike might've revealed the opposite, that the two sides didn't need each other as much as they thought they did, which is probably not what led them back to the negotiating table.
Berlin: Weinerei (NYT)
Just curious what y'all think of this: a wine bar in Germany where you pay $1.50 to rent a glass and get unlimited samples of wine. It's sort of an honor system thing, that you don't abuse it and get totally schloshed. Also, at the end of the night, you can throw a couple more bucks in a jug. You think it can work long term? Even food prices are on an honor system. Actually, we're amazed that we're first reading about this in the Travel section of the NYT. We'd have thought this would be the sole purview of the Freakonomics blog.

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